Foo Fighters are back with In Your Honour, their fifth album doubly marking their 10th anniversary. After Route 66 and Studio 54, Dave Grohl presents Studio 606. It sounds more like a highway winding through the American desert.
“It’s a dumb, lucky number I’ve had since I was a little kid,” explains the Foo Fighters frontman of the number 606. And it looks like being a lucky number for the Foo Fighters. They’ve just celebrated their 10th anniversary by releasing a double CD -“one loud, one not-so-loud” – In Your Honour.
“I wanted to do something different, something that would make it exciting to be in a band again, that would really challenge us and become more than just a record,” Dave explains. “So instead of going into a studio for two months, recording 12 songs and making another album, playing another festival and making another video, I thought: Let’s build a studio and make a double record.”
After Studio 606 was erected, In Your Honour was constructed, resulting in one rock and one acoustic CD. “I think we needed to prove to ourselves that we should still be a band and have a future. Also, with the other albums we’ve made, we’ve always had hard rock songs and softer, gentle acoustic melodies too. But it’s hard to put things on the same record sometimes without it sounding crazy and schizophrenic.”
“It’s hard to put things on the same record sometimes without it sounding crazy and schizophrenic” – Dave Grohl, telling In Your Honour like it is.
The Foos basically eliminated the middle ground and went to the extremes, yet keeping them apart on two CDs. “You could feel it harder that way, or you could go more delicate that way,” he says. “And if you split the two they make more sense together.” Guitarist Chris Shiflett adds, “It was like making two different albums.”
“The most important thing is that we did something that we’re really proud of, something that raises the bar a little for the band and is better than things that we’ve done before,” Dave says, filled with pride. “But we also want people to enjoy it. You don’t really want to alienate everybody, but you don’t really want to do it for them. You have to do it for yourself in order to feel rewarded.”
And Dave rewarded himself with the some very honorary guests, including his mate Josh Homme from Queens Of The Stone Age, while Norah Jones lends her voice on the bossa nova Virginia Moon and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones plays the piano on the ballad Miracle.
“He contacted us,” jokes Chris. Yeah, right. “Some people on the record, like Josh, I’ve known for 14years,” says Dave. “You pick up your cell phone and ask, ‘Hey, you wanna come and play on a song?’ But with John Paul Jones, you get your people to call his people, and then they give each other your phone numbers and then you call each other. But he was so cool.” And Dave was nervous. “The thing about meeting legends and heroes is that they seem larger than life and you’re just afraid. I think he did his best to calm us down. I was shaking!”
“If it weren’t for Butch, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now” – Dave Grohl, bigging up Nevermind producer Butch Vig.
This is coming from Grohl, mind, one of the most highly sought-after guest drummers around. The QOTSA album Songs From The Deaf owes much of its success to his drumming abilities, as well as Garbage‘s Bad Boyfriend, the opening track on their latest album.
“You like that?” he smiles. “That was fun! That was easy, ‘cos it’s Butch Vig. I owe that guy the biggest favour in the world. If it weren’t for Butch, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” he says of the man who produced Nirvana‘s Nevermind.
Which brings us to the inevitable subject of the band that changed the music scene forever. He must be getting sick of being considered a Nirvana rep, especially as he was the band’s sixth drummer.
“Yeah! Sometimes I’ll get calls about making a boxset.” His involvement in the last one was due to his brotherly love for former Nirvana bassist Kris Novoselic. “He’s like my big brother. He’s the sweetest, most gentle person in the world. I want to be there to support him, but it’s kind of weird sometimes ‘cos I was the sixth drummer. There’s a lot of history in that band before I joined them. I was just there in the spotlight when everything blew up.”
But there are limits, he says. “There’s no way I could go see that Gus Van Sant movie.” Last Days, recently presented at the Cannes Film Festival, is loosely based on Kurt Cobain’s life.
“So what is that?” asks Chris. “It’s Gus Van Sant’s interpretation of what he thinks was going through Kurt’s head in the last couple of days,” explains Dave. “It’s total speculation. A lot of people will ask me questions like, ‘What do you think you would be doing right now if Kurt were alive?’ It’s that kind of speculation… I think of it differently than a lot of people because it’s personal.”
And what would Kurt think of Last Days?
“He would be bummed,” concludes Dave, “I can definitely speculate that!”