The Foo Fighters are back with In Your Honour, their fifth album doublymarking their tenth anniversary.
After Route 66 and Studio 54, Dave Grohl presents Studio 606. It sounds morelike 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 tenth anniversary by releasing a double CD -“one loud, one not-so-loud” – In Your Honour.
“I wanted to do something different, somethingthat would make it exciting to be in a band again, that would really challenge usand become more than just a record,” Dave explains. “So instead of goinginto a studio for two months, recording 12 songs and making another album,playing another festival and making another video, I thought: Let’s build astudio and make a double record.”
After Studio 606 was erected, In YourHonour was constructed, resulting in one rock and one acoustic CD. “I thinkwe needed to prove to ourselves that we should still be a band and have afuture. Also, with the other albums we’ve made, we’ve always had hard rocksongs and softer, gentle acoustic melodies too. But it’s hard to put thingson 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, oryou could go more delicate that way,” he says. “And if you split the two they make moresense together.” Guitarist Chris Shiflett adds, “It was like making twodifferent albums.”
“The most important thing is that we did something that we’re really proudof, something that raises the bar a little for the band and is better thanthings that we’ve done before,” Dave says, filled with pride. “But we alsowant people to enjoy it. You don’t really want to alienate everybody, butyou don’t really want to do it for them. You have to do it for yourself inorder to feel rewarded.”
And Dave rewarded himself with the some very honorary guests, including hismate Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, while Norah Jones lends hervoice on the bossa nova Virginia Moon and Led Zeppelin bassist John PaulJones plays the piano on the ballad Miracle.
“He contacted us,” jokesChris. 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 wannacome and play on a song?’ But with John Paul Jones, you get your people tocall his people, and then they give each other your phone numbers and thenyou call each other. But he was so cool.” And Dave was nervous. “The thingabout meeting legends and heroes is that they seem larger than life andyou’re just afraid. I think he did his best to calm us down. I was shaking!”
This is coming from Grohl, mind, one of the most highly sought-after guestdrummers around. The QOTSA album Songs From the Deaf owes much of itssuccess to his drumming abilities, as well as Garbage‘s Bad Boyfriend, theopening track on their latest album.
“You like that?” he smiles. “That wasfun! That was easy, ‘cos it’s Butch Vig. I owe that guy the biggest favour inthe 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 theinevitable subject of the band that changed the music scene forever. He mustbe getting sick of being considered a Nirvana rep, especially as he was theband’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 forformer Nirvana bassist Kris Novoselic. “He’s like my big brother. He’s thesweetest, most gentle person in the world. I want to be there to supporthim, but it’s kind of weird sometimes ‘cos I was the sixth drummer. There’sa lot of history in that band before I joined them. I was just there in thespotlight when everything blew up.”
But there are limits, he says. “There’sno way I could go see that Gus Van Sant movie.” Last Days, recentlypresented at the Cannes Film Festival, is loosely based on Kurt Cobain’s life.
“Sowhat is that?” asks Chris. “It’s Gus Van Sant’s interpretation of what hethinks was going through Kurt’s head in the last couple of days,” explainsDave. “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’sthat kind of speculation… I think of it differently than a lot of peoplebecause it’s personal.”
And what would Kurt think of Last Days?
“He would bebummed,” concludes Dave, “I can definitely speculate that!”