Foo Fighters is an alternative rock band, which was formed by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl after Kurt Cobain's suicide. The band currently comprises Grohl on vocals and rhythm guitar, Chris Shiflett on lead guitar and backing vocals, Pat Smear on second lead guitar, Nate Mendel on bass, and TaylorHawkins on drums and backing vocals. The name is a reference to a term for unidentified flying objects sighted by pilots during World War IInote which in turn harkens back to "foo lights", a New England term referring to the glowing lights produced by swamp gas, and produced the metasyntactic variables foo and foobar. Grohl is on record as saying he hates the name, and would never have used it if he'd thought the band would get anywhere.Foo Fighters was originally a one-man project started by Dave Grohl after the dissolution of Nirvana (though he had written and recorded future Foo Fighters songs while still in the band), and he plays all the instruments on almost every song on the first, self-titled Foo Fighters album (why almost? Greg Dulli has a guitar part of "X-Static"). At first, Grohl hid behind the Foo Fighters name, preferring that people judge the album on its own merits rather than on Grohl's name or the fans' desire to fill the vacuum left by Nirvana. Eddie Vedder played a few songs on his radio show, and the positive response motivated Grohl to move forward.Grohl decided to draft in a full band for live shows and for the second album, The Colour and the Shape. Bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith came from cultly admired emotrope codifiers Sunny Day Real Estate, while Pat Smear, a member of the Germs and the fourth member of Nirvana for its last few years, played guitar. Goldsmith left after the album was recorded, as Grohl had replaced most of Goldsmith's drums tracks with his own. Smear left shortly after the album was released. Replacements were found in Alanis Morissette ex-bandmember Taylor Hawkins on drums and Franz Stahl in place of Smear (who was himself replaced by Chris Shiflett after the release of their third album, There Is Nothing Left to Lose; that album was recorded by Grohl, Mendel and Hawkins as a trio specifically because of the lineup instability).The band has been praised highly by critics, stepping out of the shadow of Nirvana to become one of the most influential alternative rock bands of recent years. To date, all of their albums have been nominated for the "Best Rock Album" Grammy, with four of them actually winning. However, some critics believe that their mainstream popularity and many radio hits mean that Dave Grohl has been "selling out" Kurt Cobain's legacy. (Grohl himself wondered this in "Hey, Johnny Park!", where he sang "Am I selling you out?")The band's new album Wasting Light was released in April 2011. It was produced by Butch Vig of Nevermind fame, and features Pat Smear back as a full member of the band.Recently, the band has gotten out of hiatus and are currently recording their eighth studio album. The album, titled Sonic Highways, is due to be released November 10th, 2014; it shares its title with a documentary series directed by Dave, set to debut the previous month.Note that they don't actually fight foos, much to Mr. T's chagrin.Not to be confused with Foo Fu.
Album Title Drop: with the album One By One, in the first track "All My Life" ("One by one, hidden up my sleeve").
Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace takes its title nearly verbatim from a line in the album's final track, "Home" (Echoes and silence, patience and grace).
"Generator" from There Is Nothing Left to Lose fakes-out one of these with the line "When there's nothing left to use".
"Miss the Misery" has "Don't change our mind, You're wasting light"
Subverted by The Coulour and the Shape whose proposed title track ended up as a b-side.
Audience Participation Song: Foo concerts are basically 2 and a half hour invocations of this trope. Oftentimes the audience sings louder than Dave does, especially during "Best of You", "Times like These", "Rope" (during the "CHOKE! On a kiss, save my breath for you!" part of the chorus), "Learn to Fly", "Arlandria" (Dave does a stop and go portion in the middle of the song, encouraging the crowd to yell along with the guitar chords) and of course "Everlong".
Badass Beard: Dave, but in recent years, Taylor, Chris and Nate as well.
Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment: During the Beaconsfield Mining disaster, when they finally made contact with the trapped miners and could give them food and water, the miners asked for an MP3 player with Foo Fighters music on it. Dave Grohl was touched by this and sent with them a note saying that the miners had tickets to any Foo Fighters gig when they got out. Dave met with one of the miners after a concert in Sydney and wrote the track on the spot.
Brain Bleach: Their video for "Keep It Clean" requires a bucket of it. Let's just say it involves a lot of nudity and borders on porn.
Breakup Breakout: The death of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana was the catalyst for Dave to move out from the drums, and start the Foo Fighters as a one-man project. He is much more well known now than he was when he was "just" the drummer for Nirvana, but he is still nowhere near as famous as Cobain is.
Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs plays guitar on "X-Static". This is the only part on the entire album not recorded by Dave.
Tenacious D appear in the video for "Learn to Fly" as custodians who spike the coffee.
Brian May plays guitar on "Tired of You", and Grohl's former bandmate Krist Novoselic reportedly sings backing vocals on b-side "Walking a Line".
"Virginia Moon" is a duet with Norah Jones, Josh Homme plays guitar on "Razor", and John Paul Jones plays mandolin on "Another Round" and piano on "Miracle".
Kaki King plays guitar on "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners", while then touring band member Pat Smear plays guitar on "Let It Die".
Grohl's idol Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü sings and plays guitar on "Dear Rosemary", Krist Novoselic plays bass and accordion in "I Should Have Known", and Fee Waybill of The Tubes sings backing vocals on "Miss the Misery".
Careful With That Axe: Dave already screams a lot, but "In Your Honor" has one that falls straight into this.
Changed For The Video: The video for "Everlong" features a repetition of the final chorus which isn't present in the studio version.
Cluster F-Bomb: Compared to the rest of their catalog, "The One" qualifies as this, dropping the word "shit" six times; on the other hand, Dave (and to a lesser extent, Taylor) are this incarnate at concerts.
Fading into the Next Song: "Hey, Johnny Park!" -> "My Poor Brain", "Learn to Fly" -> "Gimme Stitches", and "The Last Song" -> "Free Me". "White Limo" -> "Arlandria" is kinda muted in Wasting Light, but live performances make sure the transition is seamless.
The 7-minute long "Come Back" has a rather elaborate fade fake out that fades to just one instrument. Which then picks up others. Which develops into a long musical piece. Which then fades out... and finishes off with a final chorus.
"Rope" takes this to new heights by doing it twice, once around the 2:45 mark, and again at the 4 minute mark. The second break doubles as Book Ends, since it's the same echoed chords at the beginning.
When "Let It Die" appears to end, it returns with a full blast (it's almost Epic Rocking).
Case in point: "White Limo" seemingly ends abruptly, but in fact it only pauses long enough to make one think the song is over...then, cue the final Metal Scream.
Lighter and Softer: Compared to the band he became famous in, Dave set out a much less Darker and Edgier path with the first Foo Fighters album, which features nonsensical lyrics written in 20 minutes, catchy melodies, more blatant jokes ("For All the Cows", "Wattershed") and the laidback "Big Me". Later Foo albums started to get somewhat more serious and less lighthearted, as the nonsensical lyrics disappeared and the catchy melodies were turned up volume-wise.
Long Runner: "The Pretender" topped the Modern Rock chart for 18 consecutive weeks. That's longer than any song has topped the Hot 100.
"Rope" topped the Hot Rock Songs chart for even longer, clocking in at 20 weeks; it was the longest-lived chart topper until Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" spent 23 straight weeks at the top.
Loudness War: One By One was widely derided for playing into this trope, and is considered by all, including the band itself, as their worst album. Compare say.. "Times Like These", with its muddy, distorted guitars and drums that bleed into the rest of the instruments, with "The Pretender" and its crisp distinctive sounds.
The Colour And The Shape regularly flitters between maxed out and dynamic, which makes it somewhat exhausting to listen to all the way through.
Wasting Light regular version is incredibly obvious, and odd since the entire thing was record on tape to recreate the 'garage experience'. Lampshaded, as a label on the shrink-wrapped CD's reads "Please play at maximum volume." There's a special vinyl edition which is normal.
Lyrical Cold Open: "Doll", "Best of You", "Breakout", "This Is a Call" and "Lonely As You".
Metal Scream: Except for slow ballads such as "Big Me" and "Walking After You", every song has Dave yelling the lyrics at least once ("Best of You" is one of the most yelled).
The entire bridge of "Monkey Wrench", between the second and the third choruses, is yelled out nonstop.
Dave starts singing "Let It Die" in a rather quiet manner... then after a a short break he goes louder, culminating in a full throttle scream by the end.
"White Limo". Add the vocals being run through a distortion box, and the studio version is essentially unintelligible.
"Weenie Beenie". The vocals are modulated and screamed, and constitute epicness.
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Though they generally stick to a 4 or 5 (with Wasting Light skewing a point higher), they've been known to fall anywhere into the 1-8 range. Examples:
1: "Miracle", "Friend of a Friend" (most of their acoustic stuff on In Your Honor qualifies)
2: "Big Me", "Cold Day in the Sun"
3: "Next Year", "Aurora"
4: "Everlong", "My Hero"
5: "These Days", "No Way Back"
6: "All My Life", "Rope"
7: "White Limo", "Weenie Beenie"
8: "FFL", "The Colour and the Shape" note Right on the border between 7 and 8.
Mondegreen: Taylor Hawkins once admitted in an interview with MTV that he used to think the line "What do you do when all your enemies are friends?" from the song "Monkey Wrench" was actually "What do you do when all your enemies are French?"
Dress Rehearsal Video: "All My Life". "The Pretender" appears to be this, then the Culture Police show up in Riot Gear. Then the wall explodes with water and epic rocking out ensues. "Times Like These" has the band in front of a green screen in one version of the video.
Stock Footage: The ends of "Long Road to Ruin" and "White Limo" both use the same footage of a car flying off of a cliff.
Surreal Music Video: "Everlong". Takes place partially in dreams, but not All Just a Dream as such. It involves giant phones, band members discarding false skins to reveal their true identities, and Dave Grohl (in-character) gaining a massive right hand with which to administer bitch slaps of death. It's directed by Michel Gondry, one of the kings of surrealist videos
"Monkey Wrench" is also pretty weird, with the multiple versions of the band.
"DOA" features a world that slowly does a 360-degree roll over the course of the video (reportedly, the spinning around got them so sick they nearly had Potty Failure), subtitled lines from both humans and animals that don't match the context, and mixed color and black-and-white. And that's just the beginning. Nothing is certain except that it's set on a train.
Video Full Of Film Clips: "Breakout" (though it justifies, by having Dave and Traylor Howard going to a drive-in to see Me, Myself and Irene - on which Howard stars...) and "The One" (it even opens with Dave reenacting a sequence of Orange County).
Must Have Caffeine: Dave ended up in the hospital once with chest pains after his work schedule drove him to downing 6 pots of coffee a day. Being the person he is, it didn't take long for him to revel inthe situation.
New Sound Album: After the first two post-grunge sounding albums, the next was more pop-rock oriented, whilst later albums have included a complete acoustic set. This lead to a return to heavy, straight-to-the-point rock in Wasting Light.
Nice Guy: Dave has a strong reputation as this among other musicians and fans, so much so that 'nicest guy in rock' has become a nickname for him. Grohl is aware of this trope and during the Wasting Light period in particular, took every opportunity to live up to it by doing as much publicity as possible. In the movie 'Back And Forth', he apologized for the rare times he didn't live up to this, such as the poorly handled firing of drummer William Goldsmith, and a time when he yelled at a producer during a particularly frustrating recording session.
Non-Appearing Title: "Hey, Johnny Park!", "Oh, George", "Cheer Up Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running)" and "White Limo".
Notable Music Videos: The band often produce playful, innovative music videos ("We take our music seriously. But music videos? They're candy commercials, we can liven up on them!"):
"Learn To Fly": Consists of the three Foo Fighters playing almost every character in the video. Dave Grohl plays a teenage girl who recognizes Dave Grohl himself and asks him for his autograph and also plays a gay steward who gives the eyes to - you guessed it - Dave Grohl, the pilot. There's a cameo by Grohl's friends Tenacious D at the beginning and end of the video, with Jack Black as the guy who spikes the coffee. There's also a somewhat goofy sounding elevator music version of "Everlong" at the beginning of the video.
"Big Me": A 2-minute parody of Mentos commercials, which involves huge grins, the band moving a car, and Dave with pony tails and wearing a dress.note They stopped playing it for a while because audiences would throw Mentos at them - and according to Dave, "It's like being stoned. Those little … things are like pebbles – they hurt".
"Long Road to Ruin" where the band members and RashidaJones play actors on a soap opera. It's quite funny.
On the other hand, at concerts, Dave Grohl is Cluster F-Bomb incarnate.
Protest Song: "The Pretender" is generally considered to be about the George W. Bush presidential administration, but the full interpretation is kept somewhat vague to allow listeners to make their own interpretation and gain their own inspiration for their own issues.
Revolving Door Band: Dave felt the band was turning into this around 2000 (on which half of the original band, plus the replacement guitarist, had left). Chris even said he was afraid he would either be fired or the band would end just because he had joined.
Long Runner Line Up: After Chris, it has since became stable, with the only changes being Pat returning to full-time member status with Wasting Light.note He previously returned as touring guitarist starting with the In Your Honor tour.
Rock Trio: Dave, Nate and Taylor recorded There's Nothing Left to Lose as one. For the tour, they decided that they needed a second guitarist again and hired Chris after auditions.
Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners is a shoutout to the trapped Beaconsfield Miners. (see Ballad of X).
"The Last Song" is a shout out...to themselves. The main riff is identical to the main riff in "Breakout".
"Times Like These" has the line, "I'm a new day rising." New Day Rising is an album by Hüsker Dü, one of Dave's biggest influences.note Dave has played in concert with ex-Hüsker Dü member, Bob Mould, who later performed on "Dear Rosemary" and "I Should Have Known."
Step Up to the Microphone: "Cold Day in the Sun" and their covers of Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar" and Joe Walsh's "Life of Illusion" are sung by Taylor Hawkins. Covers of "Danny Says" by The Ramones and "Kiss the Bottle" by Jawbreaker are sung by Chris Shiflett.
A few songs are complaints against the ever-greedy Courtney Love, from "I'll Stick Around" ("I don't owe you anything!"), to "Let It Die".
As part of its Whole Plot Reference to Falling Down, the "Walk" video opens with Dave Grohl stuck in a traffic jam and being increasingly annoyed by the behavior of those around him and text around him. Among these is "Punk is Dead" in a wall, and stickers reading "Bieber is my co-pilot" "Thank You, President Bush" and "Coldplay".note The last one is only a joke, Dave likes the band and said that "We don't hate Coldplay, we just like to make fun of them"
A less-than-peaceful church from Kansas that isn't worth naming tried to protest a 2011 concert. Their response was to dress up like hicks and sing a country song about loving everyone. The best part was that the band stood right in front of the protestors during the performance.note That track was actually Keep It Clean, which explains that song's video.
Textless Album Cover: There Is Nothing Left to Lose has no text, just a picture of Dave Grohl's FF tattoo on his neck◊.note Most copies of the album have a red sticker indicating the album title, singles and if it features enhanced sections or bonus tracks.
They have a song called "The Colour and the Shape", but it was cut from the eponymous album because Dave felt its "Weenie Beenie 2.0." vibe didn't fit with the record (it was released as a bonus track on the 10th anniversary edition of the album).
True Companions: Related to the above: the band took a break from recording, during which Dave played with Queens of the Stone Age and even considered disbanding the Foo Fighters... and then noticed he was missing the band, which inspired him to write "Times Like These".
A whole disc in In Your Honor are unplugged songs, they released a live album of unplugged songs (Skin and Bones) and they also have several slower songs on their 6th album Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace.
There are also acoustic versions of "See You" , "Floaty" and "Ain't It The Life" as b-sides.
At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the band performed acoustic versions of "My Hero" and "Walk".
Uncommon Time: Most of their songs are written in 4/4 time, but not all of them; "Enough Space" and a decent part of "Miss the Misery" are in 6/4, while "Times Like These" is partially in 7/4.
Word Salad Lyrics: Especially on the first album, where Grohl admitted he wrote whatever he could think the twenty minutes before recording, even if it was completely nonsensical or gibberish.
Your Makeup Is Running: The Non-Appearing Title of one of their songs ("Cheer Up Boys (Your Make Up Is Running)"), either taking a potshot at the emo scene or an Artifact Title, as Dave Grohl said that this was a working title that had nothing to do with the song. It just stuck because it was funny. It greatly enhanced Dave Grohl's popularity amongst people who were sick of the melodramatic emo scene of the time regardless.