The emergence of the Foo Fighters in 1995 as one of rock's great
new hopes should have given drummers everywhere a reason for optimism.
Consider the story of Dave Grohl. The former drummer of the Washington,
D.C. punk band Scream joined a trio called Nirvana in 1990, only
to see them become the most important band of the '90s and then
self-destruct with Kurt Cobain's suicide.
men would have disappeared from the pop music landscape, but rather
than fade away, Grohl mentally regrouped and emerged as Foo Fighters.
In Nirvana, Grohl's drumming was a powerful element but his songwriting
was limited to the obscure b-side "Marigold." With Foo
Fighters, Grohl was allowed to take what he learned from Cobain
and give it his own spin. He wrote, sang and played everything
on the "band"'s 1995 self-titled debut, save for some
additional guitar added by the Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli. Naturally,
some of the album, including "This Is A Call" and "I'll
Stick Around," sounds incredibly Nirvana-like, but if anyone
has a right to ape the Mighty K.C., it's Grohl. Elsewhere, Grohl
showed his pop smarts on the wonderfully Beatlesque "Big
Me." In all, Foo Fighters was a knockout punch few could
have expected from Grohl. Following the completion of the album,
Grohl rounded up a band to bring Foo Fighters to life--former
Nirvana touring member and Germs guitarist Pat Smear, and bassist
Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith, both formerly of Sunny
Day Real Estate.
The Colour & The Shape, the record company propaganda machine
attempted to spin a story that this was the Foo Fighters' real
"band" album. No doubt, the album sounds like more of
a band effort, with Grohl and Smear engaging in pyrotechnic guitar
duels. But there was little doubt who was calling the shots. In
fact, Goldsmith left the band during the making of the album reportedly
because Grohl refused to give up the drum stool in the studio.
Lyrically, on The Colour And The Shape Grohl opted to let Cobain
rest in peace, except for the tribute "My Hero," and
instead focused on the dissolution of his marriage.
Colour and the November '99 release of There Is Nothing Left To
Lose, the Foo Fighters hired a new drummer (Taylor Hawkins, who
used to be in Alanis Morissette's band), lost Pat Smear, hired
Grohl's old Scream mate Franz Stahl to replace him, then lost
Stahl too. By now, it was pretty clear that all this personnel
rotation was purely secondary to the group's central creative
force, Grohl, who seemed more interested than ever in moving his
music away from anything resembling punk and towards a style much
more closely resembling the mainstream classic rock that he grew