‘Something From Nothing’ – the annotated lyrics

October 17th, 2014 Comments off

Seeing how the whole concept of  Sonic Highways was to record songs inspired and shaped by the studio and city it was recorded in, I thought after each episode airs I’d try and piece together the meaning behind the lyrics.

“The episode is basically about these people and how they all started with nothing. They were just inspired to follow their dreams.” – Dave Grohl


The songs whole sentiment seems to be about carving your own path & rising to the top – from a broke and hungry Buddy Guy getting his break, to the young punks growing a scene in the face of hostility.

Give me the flammable light
I’m cold as a match
Ready to strike
So here I go

Here lies a city on fire
Singing along
The arsonist choir
Now here I go

It started with a spark
And burned into the dark
Now here I go

While 1871 saw the Great Fire of Chicago, these lines probably reference the fact Chicago’s first punk club La Mere Vipere closed  after less than a year thanks to a suspicious fire – the first of many clubs in the city to suffer such a fate.

There is a river I’ve found
Into the wild
Under the ground
So here I go

The Chicago River stretches for 156 miles throughout the city and runs adjacent to Electrical Audio where this song was recorded.

A button on a string
And I heard everything
Now here I go

Guitarist Buddy Guy made his first instrument from wires, nails and a screen door.  In the episode he talks about taking a button and string and getting a sound from it.

Oh sweet ignition be my fuse
You have no choice you have to choose
Bid farewell to yesterday
Say goodbye I’m on my way

But in the end we all
Come from what’s come before
So here I go

Oh sweet ignition be my fuse
You have no choice you have to choose
Bid farewell to yesterday
Say goodbye I’m on my way

I threw it all away because
I had to be what never was
Been so hungry I could lie
You took my word I took your wine

And held you in my bloody hands
These rattled bones and rubber bands

Rubber bands were another item used by Buddy Guy to make music.

Washed them in the muddy water

A nod to Blues legend Muddy Waters.

Looking for a dime and found a quarter

A direct quote from Buddy Guy’s interview in the episode.

But you can’t make me change my name
They’ll never make me change my name

Buddy talked about the record industry pressure to change his stage name.

Pay no mind now ain’t that’s something
Fuck it all I came from nothing

I’m something from nothing
You are my fuse

Rick Nielsen also talked about pressure to change names – his band The Grim Reapers were advised to change their name to Fuse.

I’m something from nothing
You are my fuse

It goes oh, oh, oh

All rise!

All Rise is the title of the 1985 album from Chicago’s post-hardcore band Naked Raygun – the band who played the first ever punk gig Dave Grohl attended at The Cubby Bear & it’s possible the line preceding is a reference to their song ‘Home Of The Brave’ and it’s chorus of  “oh, oh, oh, ohs”.

No you can’t make me change my name
You’ll never make me change my name
Pay no mind no wait that’s something
Fuck it all I came from nothing

I’m something
From nothing
I’m something
From nothing

Foo Fighters ‘In The Studio’ feature – Q, November 2014

September 29th, 2014 Comments off

Q magazine’s November issue arrives on shelves tomorrow and inside is a small ‘In The Studio’ feature focusing on Sonic Highways:


Chris Shiflett talks to Kerrang!

September 18th, 2014 Comments off


Last week saw the Foo Fighters return to the UK… and what a return – holy shit! Or should that be The Holy Shits?
Under their alter ego, the Foos crammed themselves into Brighton’s Concorde 2 for the sweatiest gig of all time, blasted the fresh paintwork off London’s House Of Vans and totalled the Islington Assembly Hall. Not content with all that and playing the Olympic Park, Dave Grohl also called the smaller shows a “chance to see [fans’] faces before we play that week at Wembley Stadium”. That’s a potential week of Foos Wembley shows in 2015!
And, just as exciting as that, new album Sonic Highways’ November 10 release is looming ever closer. Yet still all we know about the record is what we’ve seen in a star-studded, three and-a-half-minute trailer for the accompanying HBO documentary series (hello, Obama, Dolly Parton, Pharrell and loads of others).
So, in the midst of their week that rocked the UK, we hung out with Foos guitarist Chris Shiflett to talk about the new album, billed by Dave Grohl himself as “a love letter to the history of American music” and the coast-to-coast journey they took to make it…

“Dave [Grohl] had that idea; what evolved was how many cities. We were even planning Europe, South America – we wound up sticking to the States.”

“Yeah, we explored the cities, made friends and figured out where the good restaurants and coffee places were. It was great!”

“It never felt like that. Dave would write the lyrics the day before, based on his time in the city and the interviews that he did.”

“Only Dave met Obama; we didn’t go this time. It was in a secure location – you’re not high-fiving the president (laughs)!”

“Yeah. the HBO show is turning out really fascinating. Being on the show will make it so even people like my mum’s friends will know the Foos!”

“Yep. Every time we put out an album I think to myself, ‘How are we going to top that?’ Maybe next time we’ll record in a city all over the world.”

Foo Fighters tell NME about their 3 secret club gigs

September 17th, 2014 Comments off

dgnmesecretgigs“Please let me be your plus one!” cries a desperate fan by the guestlist queue as hundreds of ticketless neck-craners gather outside
Brighton’s Concorde 2 venue, struggling to get a glimpse of The Holy Shits. Their singer, one David Grohl, spotting them from the stage, thinks there’s “like, 2,000 people trying to listen to the show” and suggests, “I’d rather be out there than in here, motherfuckers, it is hot as shit.”
The Holy Shits, of course, are none other than Foo Fighters, who kicked of the first of a handful of UK club shows in advance of their headline set at the Invictus Games Olympic Park show on Sunday (September 14) with a hot and sweaty gig at the Brighton venue. After this show, they travelled to London’s House Of Vans and Islington Assembly Hall on a mission to “play gigs like this pretty much every night we’re here until we have to go home,” yells Grohl from the stage.
We caught up with the band to find out how this mini tour came about…
You haven’t played in this country for over two years. What made you decide to start of with some smaller shows?
Dave Grohl (vocals): “Well, when we decided to come over and do the Invictus Games closing ceremony, I thought, ‘God, we haven’t even been [in the UK] in for so long, we’re only just going to do one show?’ So I thought we really needed to fill up the week with some club gigs. So we picked three little venues and started rehearsing.”
How did you choose the setlist?
Dave: “We just blasted out as many songs as we could in rehearsal – things that we don’t normally play came up. And so the setlist was a lot of stuf from the first and second records that we don’t normally do. It was great. More than anything we just miss playing. It’s been a while. We’ve been making this record for the past year, but we’ve only done maybe, like, three or four shows in, like, the past two or three years and we will enjoy doing this so it’s hard not to [choose old songs].”
Why did you pick Brighton for your return?
Nate Mendel (bass): “We’re doing a bunch of warm-up shows and we didn’t want to do them all in London. We played at the Concorde 2 before, when we put out ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’ [in 2007].”
Why call yourselves The Holy Shits?
Taylor Hawkins (drums): “We did a show at Firefy Festival in Delaware in June. After the set we came out and did an encore as a cover band called The Holy Shits. It’s from that.”
What was it like to be back playing live again?
Pat Smear (guitar): “I like that point in the touring cycle where you haven’t played your songs in a long time so even a song like ‘Monkey Wrench’ you’re like, ‘Hang on, what’s that next chord?’ You really have to be on your toes. In a few months or whatever it’ll be a whole different thing. It was a mini glimpse into being on tour. I mean, we got on a bus – it’s been literally years since we were all on a bus, you know! It’s great.”

A round-up of Sonic Highways studios & guest musicians

September 16th, 2014 Comments off

As press interviews for Sonic Highways start to appear, more details are beginning to emerge about each specific track. Here’s a round-up of whats been revealed so far:

Track Studio & City Guest Musician
1. “Something From Nothing” Electrical Audio – Chicago Rick Nielsen
2. “The Feast and the Famine” Inner Ear Studio – Washington D.C Rd Gld Grn
3. “Congregation” Southern Ground Studios – Nashville Zac Brown
4. “What Did I Do?/God as My Witness”  Austin Gary Clark Jr
5. “Outside” Rancho De La Luna – Los Angeles Joe Walsh
6. “In the Clear” Preservation Hall – New Orleans  Preservation Hall Jazz Band
7. “Subterranean” Robert Lang Studios – Seattle Ben Gibbard
8. “I Am a River” The Magic Shop – New York Chuck D *

* pretty unlikely but it’s who Q pegged as a guest & there hasnt been any confirmation either way yet.

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Nate talks to NME about Sonic Highways

September 10th, 2014 Comments off

As a band fronted by one of rock’s biggest polymaths, it’s no surprise that Foo Fighters are doing things a bit differently on their eighth album, ‘Sonic Highways’, which will be released on November 10.
Instead of just hitting a single studio and getting stuck in, Dave Grohl and co travelled to eight cities in the US, including Nashville, New Orleans, LA, New York, Chicago and Seattle, honing in on the story of a local studio and then recording a song there alongside local legends such as the Eagles’ Joe Walsh, Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
The stunt will be made into a documentary series, to be released before the album, in which each episode ends with a finished song. The result is a rare, intimate and entertaining insight into the making of the record.

Nate Mendel

Nate Mendel

“It was Dave’s idea,” Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel tells NME. “I think there’s a pretty clear line of inspiration from the Sound City documentary he made last year. It’s time to start to think about ways to make an album more interesting than just a grouping of songs. That’s really important to our band and probably for anybody who is serious about producing music now. You’ve got to be creative.”

You visited eight studios to make new album
‘Sonic Highways’. Which were your favourites?
Nate: “The most perspective-altering experience for everyone was New Orleans. It’s not really a rock’n’roll city at all. People just do not give a shit about rock music there. So instead of trying to create that out of thin air, we went and recorded at this Preservation Hall Jazz Band venue right in the heart of the French Quarter. It was a total education playing with this huge collective of jazz musicians who are part of a larger culture that’s unique to that town. Being there even just for a week really brought the city to life [for me] in a way that I’d never seen before.”

You recorded a track in each city. Did the
songs take on the character of each location?
“That was the idea. We wrote the bulk of the songs back in Los Angeles, so it was more a matter of experiencing each place,
learning about the studio and then bringing in guest musicians. In Seattle we had Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie; in the desert outside Los Angeles it was Joe Walsh from the Eagles for a classic southern California feel – and, sure enough, suddenly our song has layers of ‘Hotel California’ in it. That’s where the local character came from.”

What was the weirdest studio you went to?
“Chicago was cool because Steve Albini runs his Electrical Audio studio like an autobody workshop. They dress in overalls. He very much looks at it as a craft. He’s detailed about how it was constructed, and really gets into the science of sound. It’s like, to him, the music that’s put out in the end is secondary to the scientifc experiment of how sound operates within a physical structure.”

Did any musicians take you out on the town?
“Ben Jafe, who runs the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, took us all over New Orleans. The coolest thing was on a Sunday morning, we
were drinking beer and watching a parade.”

How does ‘Sonic Highways’ difer from your previous albums?
“They’re fairly straightforward Foo Fighters songs and almost every one of them takes a left turn and goes of on some psychic
odyssey with the guest musician in the middle. Sometimes there’s an awkward transition back into the song. You catch on with a few of them, where we go ‘oh fuck!’ and we’re back into the final chorus. There are a few elements that are looser than traditional Foo Fighters moments.”

How did the diferent studios and cities inspire Dave Grohl’s lyrics?
“Dave took a creative leap on this one and decided to incorporate into his lyrics things that actually happened in the cities, and
conversations he had with the various musicians. So ‘I Am A River’ was inspired by the fact that under one of the studios we
found there was an actual physical river. ‘Something From Nothing’ was inspired by Buddy Guy’s story of moving up from the South, not a button to his name, moving to Chicago as a young blues guy, meeting Muddy Waters right of the bat, being the young buck in town and making his way in the blues scene there and becoming a legend after walking into town without shit. The song ‘Congregation’ was a play on how a lot of the folks in the Nashville country music scene came together in church, in a sort of gospel environment, to learn their craft.”

Any plans to tour the album?
“We’re planning on doing a pretty unique and cool idea for our 20th anniversary. It’s something that’ll be fucking cool – plus all of the usual things like festivals.”

Zane Lowe asks Dave about Foo’s 8th album

January 28th, 2014 1 comment

During a busy week of Grammy events, and with Sound City about to get its UK TV debut, Dave got on the phone from LA to chat to Zane about the documentary, but as the phone call wound up Dave was asked how recording was going:

“How’s the Foos record going?”

“It’s Incredible.  I mean, we haven’t really disclosed exactly what we’re doing, and there’s rumours on the internet of what’s going on… Well, we’re doing something that nobody really knows about and we’ll announce pretty soon I think.  We’re making these songs in a way that I’m not sure anyone’s really done yet, and I know what it sounds like and I honestly think the entire concept is going to take people by surprise and it sounds nuts man.  Like, we recorded something the other day that’s unlike anything we’ve ever done before… it starts with a fuse and then it just explodes.  It’s awesome man.  It’s gonna be great.  I can’t wait.”

Foo Fighter’s 8th LP rumour round-up

January 22nd, 2014 Comments off

On Monday Morning I tweeted the following piece from the latest issue of Billboard:

Unsubstansiated at the time but it’s certainly a grand enough idea to match up with what Dave was hinting at last year:

“I’ve a crazy idea of what I want to do with the next record and how we record it. It’s not conventional. It won’t be a conventional record.” – March, 2013

“Well, I’ll tell you, we have been in our studio writing and in the past few weeks we’ve written an album and we are going to make this album in a way that no-one’s ever done before and we’re pretty excited about it,” he admitted.
“It’s a little ways off – it’s not ready to happen right now but I think next year is going to be a really big year for the Foo Fighters without question.
“It’s going to be great, I can’t wait.” – August 2013

Since then weight has been given to the ’12 studios in 12 cities’ rumours after a flurry of FF activity in Chicago  – Nate caught a Diarrhea Planet/Yuck show, Taylor did some sightseeing, Dave rode the subway & the whole band got Pizza with Rick Nielsen.

But what about actual recording? Well, Butch Vig (Wasting Light’s producer) also happened to be in Chicago as was James Brown (Wasting Light’s engineer) who took this pic of Rami Jaffee photoboming him:

In what looks very much like Studio A of Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio, (Bob Mould’s bassist also posted a pic to twitter in what looks like the studio) while Sound City’s producer Jim Rota has also on-hand with a camera crew (a post on Reddit said Dave was being filmed while on the CTA train).

So from Billboard’s “definites” list that’s Chicago covered, any hometown sessions in LA could have passed without word getting out, Robert Lang Studios in Seattle saw a visit from Dave last year – could that mean a session there?  Will the New York recording coincide with the band’s Superbowl gig on Feb 1st?  And could the suggestion that Nashville is another destination also be true?

Regardless.  It’s an exciting time for those of us desperate to hear new music – roll on LP#8.

Sound City giveaway

March 11th, 2013 Comments off

Not have Sound City yet?  Is it because the recession is biting?  Is your drug habit getting in the way of your music buying?  Or are you just lazy?

Regardless, I’m giving some away: I’ve a copy of the soundtrack ‘Sound City: Real to Reel’, a copy of the documentary on DVD & also one on Blu Ray.  To win either email fooarchive@gmail.com or tweet @fooarchive with SOUND CITY & your chosen format (so, SOUND CITY DVD, etc)

Winners will be chosen randomly on Thursday and recieve an e-mail/tweet to ask for their address.  Again, the contest is only open  to UK residents… but if your overseas and can use a relative’s address – go for it.

Done & dusted – thanks!

NME review Sound City: Real to Reel

March 6th, 2013 Comments off

Categories: New Releases, Reviews Tags: ,