photo & text by nacrowe
i have this distinct memory of hearing the FOO FIGHTERS's track "THIS IS A CALL" coming from my parents bedroom alarm clock during the summer of 1995. i was 11 and we were still living in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA at the time. there was a kinetic energy and a contagious passion to that song that caught my ear and made an immediate impact. it just sounded like fun. at the time i had no idea that this band was fronted by the drummer from all those NIRVANA records i adored. so in a sense i heard the FOO FIGHTERS eponymous debut album FOO FIGHTERS (ROSWELL, 1995) from a fairly innocent standpoint. so naive was i that for several months i thought that the name of the band was FOOD FIGHTERS.
and for the record: i still think FOOD FIGHTERS is a great name. just saying.
famously the FOO FIGHTERS began as a quick studio project for DAVE GROHL to keep his my mind on something productive months after the shocking and tragic demise of bandmate KURT COBAIN and the end of NIRVANA. there was no plan, just a quick week of recording sessions with his friend BARRETT JONES at a local SEATTLE recording studio (ROBERT LANG STUDIOS) a block away from his house with songs written before and after GROHL's time in NIRVANA. even the name of the project was made plural to disguise the fact that this wasnt a group, but in fact GROHL on every instrument.
the project only became a focus after GROHL declined an offer to join TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS, and made a small series of FOO FIGHTERS tapes that he passed around to close friends and industry colleagues. this led to a major label distribution agreement which laid the foundation for the ongoing ALTERNATIVE ROCK juggernaut that is the modern-day FOO FIGHTERS. actually the project, unlike NIRVANA, had a steady build up to where they are now over a nearly 30 year career playing mostly straight-ahead ROCK N ROLL. probably the most astute move GROHL ever made was starting ROSWELL RECORDS and owning his own recordings. he is part of a short list of notable recording artists (METALLICA, U2, RIHANNA, JACK WHITE, JAY-Z, etc.) that own their own material. it has allowed him the freedom to make his art minus the industry bullshit most have to consider when recording an album.
its interesting to think of whether or not those pressures would have served COBAIN well if he had equal control over his catalogue. obviously like much concerning him, it is impossible to say.
standout tracks on FOO FIGHTERS include the aforementioned "THIS IS A CALL" as well as "ALONE + EASY TARGET," "BIG ME," "I'LL STICK AROUND," "FLOATY" and my personal favorite, "FOR ALL THE COWS." sonically and compositionally, these songs are all anthemic and radiate a light-hearted optimism that is pretty much indistinguishable from the public persona of GROHL. needless to say, this tone is in sharp contrast to that of NIRVANA, which always seemed psychologically and emotionally complex and heavy. this debut is indebted to bands like THE MELVINS and BIG BLACK in terms of its sonic palette, but in essence these songs serve as a popular bridge to a deeper catalogue of 1980s INDIE ROCK. that was my experience at least. getting into NIRVANA and later FOO FIGHTERS begot interest in PIXIES, HUSKER DU, THE REPLACEMENTS, DINOSAUR JR, SONIC YOUTH and so on.
this is not the best FOO FIGHTERS record, the follow-up THE COLOUR AND THE SHAPE (ROSWELL, 1997) is in my opinion, but it is a great transitional record by an iconic musician at a consequential crossroads in his career. it is pretty incredible what GROHL was able to accomplish the and since. definitely worth checking out.