Foo Fighters are a post-grunge band formed by musician Dave Grohl in 1995 after the demise of the grunge band Nirvana, in which he played drums. They are named after the World War II term "foo fighter", used to refer to mysterious aerial phenomena.
Foo Fighters have earned a strong worldwide following, and their hits include "I'll Stick Around", "Big Me", "Monkey Wrench", "Everlong", "My Hero", "Learn to Fly", "Breakout", "All My Life", "Times Like These", and "Best Of You". On top of their five studio albums, they have also contributed to several movie soundtracks, including the song "A320" on the 1998 Godzilla soundtrack.
Foo Fighters began as a studio solo project for Grohl. Unbeknownst to most of Nirvana's fanbase, Grohl had slowly written a stockpile of songs that he had held back from the band for fear of ruining their chemistry. Following Cobain's death, Grohl entered Barrett Jones' Seattle studio to put many of his new songs to tape. With the exception of a guitar part on "X-Static" by Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs, Grohl played every instrument and sang every vocal on the tracks. Lured to Capitol Records by former Nirvana A&R (and then-Capitol president) Gary Gersh, Grohl had the demo recordings professionally mixed, and the results became the Foo Fighters' self-titled debut album.
However, Grohl didn't want the Foo Fighters to be a one-man studio project, so he worked to try to put together a band. Initially, former bandmate Krist Novoselic was a main candidate for the band, but both were concerned that it might portray Foo Fighters as a reincarnation of Nirvana. Having heard through the grapevine about the disbanding of Seattle-based Emocore band Sunny Day Real Estate, Grohl drafted SDRE's bass player, Nate Mendel, and drummer, William Goldsmith. Pat Smear, who was an "unofficial member" of Nirvana after the release of In Utero, was added as a second guitarist, completing the band.
The band's first single "This Is a Call" was released in June of 1995, and their eponymous debut album was released the next month to enthusiastic fan response. "I'll Stick Around" and "Big Me" were released to radio and MTV in the months that followed.
After touring through the spring of 1996, the now full band Foo Fighters entered a Seattle studio with producer Gil Norton to record the band's second album. However, conflict erupted between Grohl and Goldsmith, resulting in Goldsmith's decision to leave the band. The band regrouped in Los Angeles and almost completely re-recorded the album with Grohl on drums. The album, The Colour and the Shape, was released in May of 1997.
In need of a drummer, Grohl contacted Alanis Morissette's touring drummer Taylor Hawkins to see if he could recommend anybody. Grohl was surprised when Hawkins volunteered himself. Hawkins made his Foo debut in time for the album's release.
In September of 1997, in front of a crowded street outside the MTV Video Music Awards, Pat Smear simultaneously announced his departure from the band and introduced his replacement, former Scream guitarist Franz Stahl. Following the recording of the band's third album There Is Nothing Left to Lose, Stahl departed the band, and was eventually replaced by Chris Shiflett.
Before the release of There Is Nothing Left to Lose, Capitol president Gary Gersh was forced out of the label. Given Grohl's history with Gersh, the Foo Fighters' contract had included a clause that allowed them to leave the label upon Gersh's departure. They subsequently left Capitol and signed to RCA. (Gersh eventually joined forces with former Nirvana manager John Silva to form GAS Entertainment, a company that manages the Foo Fighters and other artists such as Jimmy Eat World, Beck, and the Beastie Boys.)
One notable moment in the band's history came in 2000 when American late-night talk show host David Letterman invited the Foo Fighters to perform on his first show after undergoing heart bypass surgery, where the band played "Everlong". Letterman introduced them by proclaiming, "My favorite band, playing my favorite song".
Near the end of 2001, the band reconvened to record their fourth album. After spending four months in a Los Angeles studio completing the album, Grohl spent some time helping the Queens of the Stone Age complete their 2002 album Songs for the Deaf. Once the Queens of the Stone Age album was finished, Grohl, inspired by the sessions, decided to reconvene the Foo Fighters to rework a few songs on their album. Instead, they completely re-recorded the album in a ten-day stretch at Grohl's studio in Virginia. The final album was released in October of 2002 under the title One by One. (Hawkins jokingly refers to the first version of the album as the "Million Dollar Demos".)
For most of its history, the Foo Fighters chose to stay away from the political realm. However, in 2004, upon learning that George W. Bush's presidential campaign was using "Times Like These" at rallies, Grohl decided to lend his public support to John Kerry's campaign. Grohl attended several Kerry rallies and occasionally performed solo acoustic sets. The entire band eventually joined Grohl for a performance in Arizona coinciding with one of the presidential debates. Grohl later cited his experiences with the Kerry campaign as inspiration for the title of their next album.
The band's newest recording is a double LP, In Your Honor, released on June 14, 2005. Singer Dave Grohl says that the two-disc release – one full of rock songs, the other featuring acoustic tracks – is a perfect memorial for band's 10th anniversary. Grohl hinted about the release in an interview with NME magazine: "It's really amazing. The good thing about doing it is that you split it up so that there's no middle ground. So the rock stuff is the most rocking stuff we've ever worked on, ever."
One highlight on the acoustic part of the set is a song called "Friend of a Friend", which has a surprisingly long history. Grohl wrote the song in 1990, basing it on his initial impressions of Cobain and Novoselic after joining Nirvana. He recorded the song in 1990, and included it on an informal collection of songs (called Pocketwatch) released on cassette in 1992 under the pseudonym "Late!". The version on In Your Honor is very similar to the original recording (albeit more polished), with Grohl simply accompanying himself on acoustic guitar.
During promotion of In Your Honor, Grohl had the chance to feed his fascination with UFOs when the Foo Fighters performed a show in a hangar at the Roswell International Air Center in Roswell, New Mexico. The Roswell International Air Center is the site of the former Roswell Army Air Field, where the fragments of the supposed alien crash landing in 1947 were stored. (Grohl named his label Roswell Records for the incident.) Grohl commented after the show that he wished he'd had a chance to examine what all was being stored inside the hangar.
The future of the band seems unpredictable. While doing press for In Your Honor, Grohl has been quoted as saying that he'd like to go out on a high, and that In Your Honor might be that high. However, he's also said that he could see the Foo Fighters go on for years. Other ideas thrown out during recent press have included a possible box set including b-sides and covers recorded over the years, as well as RCA/BMG's desire to release a Greatest Hits album covering the band's career.
Dave Grohl - Vocals, Guitar,
Taylor Hawkins - Drums, Percussion (1997-present),
Nate Mendel - Bass,
Chris Shiflett - Guitar, Backing Vocals (1999-present).
William Goldsmith - Drums, Percussion (1995-1997),
Pat Smear - Guitar (1995-1997),
Franz Stahl - Guitar (1997-1999).