Foo Fighters Biography and Profile

foo fighters
Foo Fighters. Photo: Steve Gullick

Foo Fighters' Origins:

Foo Fighters came about due to tragic circumstances. After the suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1994 and the band's subsequent dissolution, drummer Dave Grohl decided to focus on recording a collection of songs he'd been developing for a few years. Handling all the vocals and almost all the instruments himself, Grohl called his 1995 debut Foo Fighters, which was also the name of his new band, a reference to World War II terminology for unidentified flying objects. The album showcased Grohl's melodic rock songs indebted to hard rock and punk, establishing the band's musical blueprint.

Getting a Band Together:

When it came time to hit the road to support Foo Fighters, Grohl recruited two former members of the alternative-rock group Sunny Day Real Estate -- drummer William Goldsmith and bassist Nate Mendel -- as well as guitarist Pat Smear, who had been a part of Nirvana for that band's final tour. Foo Fighters were a full-fledged band now, but its lineup was about to go through a series of changes.

Tension Within Foo Fighters:

When Foo Fighters reconvened in the studio in 1996 to record its follow-up, The Colour and the Shape, tensions began to grow between Grohl and Goldsmith over the album's drum sounds. Unhappy with Grohl's decision to rerecord the drums on his own, Goldsmith left the band. Grohl brought in Taylor Hawkins, who had worked with Alanis Morissette, to replace Goldsmith on the subsequent tour.

Another Album, Another Lineup Change:

After The Colour and the Shape's release, Smear announced he was also exiting the group. Guitarist Franz Stahl, who had been a member of the punk band Scream with Grohl in the 1980s, took Smear's place, but by the time Foo Fighters began work on their third album, 1999's There Is Nothing Left to Lose, he too would depart the band. When the band toured after There Is Nothing Left to Lose's release, Grohl added guitarist Chris Shiflett, formerly of the punk band No Use for a Name. The quartet has remained intact ever since.

Stability and Success:

With newfound stability, Foo Fighters have maintained a steady commercial course in the 21st century. Although Grohl has acknowledged that it's his least favorite Foo album, 2002's One by One was the band's fourth straight platinum-selling record on the strength of the singles "All My Life" and "Times Like These." Inspired by his time campaigning for U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, Grohl named the group's 2005 album In Your Honor, a two-disc set split between rock songs and acoustic tracks. 2007's Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace was nominated for five Grammy awards, including Album of the Year.

'Wasting Light':

The band released their first album in four years, Wasting Light, on April 12, 2011. Former Foo guitarist Pat Smear rejoined the lineup for the new disc which was recorded at Dave Grohl's home studio with Nirvana Nevermind album producer Butch Vig. Wasting Light was recorded using only analog tape recording equipment with no computers involved in the recording process. Guests on the album include: former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselik, singer Bob Mould, violinist/cellist Jessy Greene, The Tube's singer Fee Waybill, and Foo Fighters' touring/session keyboardist Rami Jaffe.

'Sonic Highways':

Dave Grohl got ambitious for Foo Fighters' 2014 eighth studio album -- recording each of the album's 8 songs in a different U.S. cities with a special musical guest from each city. Grohl also directed an HBO series, also called Sonic Highways, documenting the recording of each song with biographical information on each city including: Chicago, Nashville, Austin, New York City, Seattle, New Orleans, Los Angeles/Joshua Tree, California, and Washington D.C./Arlington, Virginia. Foo Fighters recorded again with producer Butch Vig and Grohl wrote last minute lyrics for each song encapsulating experiences and interviews with musicians in each city. Foo Fighters have promoted the album throughout 2014-2015 with a massive world tour.

Current Foo Fighters Members:

Dave Grohl - lead vocals, guitar
Taylor Hawkins - drums
Nate Mendel - bass
Chris Shiflett - guitar
Pat Smear - guitar

Essential Foo Fighters Album:

Sounding like he was so anxious to create his own identity away from Nirvana's towering legacy that he could barely sit still, Dave Grohl turned his old band's tragic end into rollicking musical catharsis. On his band's 1995 debut, the songs blast out of the speakers, one after another, with such undeniable hooks that it's hard to believe he ever took a backseat to anyone.

Foo Fighters Discography:

Foo Fighters (1995) 
The Colour and the Shape (1997) 
There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999) 
One by One (2002) 
In Your Honor (2005) 
Skin and Bones (live acoustic album) (2006) 
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007) 
Foo Fighters Greatest Hits (2009) 
Wasting Light (2011) 
Sonic Highways (2014) 

(Edited by Bob Schallau)