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Foo Fighters
Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

While he was drumming with Nirvana, Dave Grohl was recording original songs at home that never received public release. Those tapes would become the foundation of Foo Fighters, the band he formed in 1995, after the death of Kurt Cobain. Like Nirvana, Foo Fighters melded loud, heavy guitars with pretty melodies and mixed punk sensibilities with a sharp sense of pop songwriting.

Dave Grohl began playing guitar and writing songs in his early teens, as well as performing with a variety of hardcore punk bands. In the late '80s, when he was still in his teens, he joined the Washington, D.C.-area hardcore band Scream as their drummer. During the final days of Scream, Grohl began recording his own material in the basement studio of his friend Barrett Jones. Some of Grohl's songs appeared on Scream's final album, Fumble. After Scream's 1990 summer tour, Grohl joined Nirvana and moved to Seattle.

After Nirvana recorded Nevermind, Grohl went back to the D.C. area and recorded a handful of tracks that would appear on Pocketwatch, a cassette released by Simple Machines. For most of 1992 he was busy with Nirvana, but when the band stayed off of the road, he recorded solo material with Jones, who had moved to Seattle. The pair kept recording throughout early 1993, when Grohl returned to Nirvana to record In Utero. Grohl had toyed with the idea of releasing another independent cassette in the summer of 1993, but the plans never reached fruition. Following Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994, the drummer kept quiet for several months. In the fall of 1994, booking time in a professional studio, Grohl and Jones recorded the album that became Foo Fighters' debut album in a week. Boiling down his backlog of songs to about 15 tracks, Grohl played all of the instruments on the album. He made 100 copies of the tape, passing it out to friends and associates. In no time, Grohl's solo project became the object of a fierce record company bidding war.

Instead of embarking on a full-fledged solo career, Grohl decided to form a band. Through his wife he met Nate Mendel, the bassist for Sunny Day Real Estate. Shortly before the pair met, Jeremy Enigk, the leader of Sunny Day Real Estate, had converted to Christianity and quit the band, effectively ending the group's career. Not only did Mendel join Grohl's band, but so did Sunny Day's drummer, William Goldsmith; former Germs and Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear rounded out the lineup. The band, named Foo Fighters after a World War II secret force that allegedly researched UFOs, signed a contract with Capitol Records. The band's self-titled debut, consisting solely of Dave Grohl's solo recordings, was released on July 4, 1995. It was an instant success in America, as "This Is a Call" garnered heavy alternative and album rock airplay. By early 1996, the album was certified platinum in the U.S.

Throughout 1996, Foo Fighters supported the album with an extensive tour, enjoying a crossover hit with "Big Me" that spring. Late in the year, the group began recording their second album with producer Gil Norton. During the sessions, William Goldsmith left the band due to creative tensions, leaving Grohl to drum on the majority of the album. Before the record's release in the spring of 1997, Goldsmith was replaced by Taylor Hawkins, who had previously drummed with Alanis Morissette. The Colour and the Shape, Foo Fighters' second album and the first they recorded as a band, was issued in May of 1997. Smear left the group in the wake of the album's completion, and was replaced by guitarist Franz Stahl, whose stay proved short-lived; 1999's There Is Nothing Left to Lose was recorded as a three-piece, with ex-No Use for a Name guitarist Chris Shiflett signing on soon after. One by One, the group's most polished production, appeared in late 2002, followed by 2005's In Your Honor, which narrowly missed the top of Billboard's album chart. After releasing a live album titled Skin and Bones in 2006, the band returned to Norton's studio and started constructing a dozen fractured and eclectic rock songs to be released in 2007 under the name Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace.

Two years later, the group released its first compilation, Greatest Hits, as Grohl launched his new supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, which also featured Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones. Foo Fighters reconvened for 2011's Wasting Light, a Butch Vig production that doubled as the official return of Pat Smear, who hadn't played on any of the band's albums since 1997. Wasting Light wound up as a smash success for the Foos, debuting at number one on the Billboard charts, going gold in the U.S. and garnering the band another four Grammy Awards. In the wake of Wasting Light, several other Foo projects emerged -- a limited-edition compilation of covers called Medium Rare released for Record Store Day 2011; a documentary of the band called Back and Forth -- and the group toured the album into 2012.

In 2012, the Foo Fighters announced they were taking a hiatus and Dave Grohl immediately returned to the confines of Queens of the Stone Age, drumming on their 2013 album ...Like Clockwork. He also threw himself into directing a documentary about the legendary Los Angeles recording studio Sound City. The film appeared early in 2013 to positive reviews, and it was accompanied by a soundtrack called Sound City: Reel to Real, which featured Grohl-directed jams including a variety of Sound City veterans, plus Paul McCartney. Not long after its release, the Foo Fighters announced their hiatus had ended and they were working on a new album. Sonic Highways, released late in 2014, was their most ambitious project yet; each track was recorded in a different city, some with special featured guests, a process documented on an eight-episode documentary series for HBO. Sonic Highways saw international release in early November 2014.

Content provided All Music Guide. Copyright 2015 All Media Guide, LLC.
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