The Foo Fighters front man has a new album but has kept the sameBy Kevin Raub
old rock sound - well, sort of.
Unlike fine wines, most bands do not get better with age. So maybe it's surprising that the Foo Fighters' sixth and newest album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, is their best work since 1997's The Colour and the Shape.
OR MAYBE IT'S not so surprising. After all, the band tapped Colour producer Gil Norton to helm this album. And he and front man (and Nirvana alum) Dave Grohl have filled the work with raucous rock and roll. That's really no surprise, either, given the Foo Fighters' 12-year history of making that style of music. What is surprising is that the album also includes fiddles and string quartets, and that on it Grohl plays piano and sings a song called "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners."
If you didn't know that Grohl had an aptitude for softer songs, then you might not know these four things either.
1. He's a grill master.
"I've always been a backyard-barbecue kind of guy," says Grohl, who in 1999 moved to Alexandria, Virginia - not far from the suburban Washington, D.C., neighborhood he grew up in - and stayed there until he returned to Los Angeles in 2005. "I spent most of my time hanging out with people I have known since fifth grade."
2. He's not into deep contemplation.
"This sounds terrible," Grohl says, "but I don't put that much thought into anything I do. In making albums, you don't necessarily think about the follow-up to what you've just done. You just start writing songs. We don't have a lot of time to sit around and reflect."
3. He rocks hard. He works hard.
The Foo Fighters "haven't taken more than two months away from the band in 13 years," Grohl says. "So at this point, the focus is entirely musical. There's not a whole lot of career direction. For the longest time, I kept these parameters around the band, like: 'We're a four-piece rock band. I don't want it to sound like Sgt. Pepper's. Let's just make a rock record.' Eventually, you have to punch your way out of that and do something more exciting musically - melodically and lyrically deeper - so that was the intention."
4. He keeps his promises to miners.
"A mine collapsed in Tasmania," Grohl says of a collapse in Beaconsfield, Australia, last year that killed one miner and trapped two others for two weeks. "And when the rescuers first contacted the miners, they couldn't pull them out, but they could get them things to help until they were rescued. The first thing one of the miners asked for was an iPod with the Foo Fighters on it. I was genuinely moved. That's heavy. It made me feel like something I have done is truly legitimate.
"Later, we went down to do an acoustic show at the Sydney Opera House, and the night before, I wrote 'Beaconsfield' [which is on the new album] to not only pay tribute to the guy but to give something back to him since he gave me a gift that nobody else could have. I played it for him that night. Afterward, we went out and got trashed at a bar, and I told him I'd put it on a record. So I did."