“A love letter to the history of American music”
[Shelby Loasby | News Sub Editor]
For all you Foo Fighter fans and Dave Grohl lovers out there, Sonic Highways is probably all you can talk about These days (see what I did there). Not only will their new album be already worn and scratched among your collection, you will almost certainly have seen the HBO series Sonic Highways.
Since writing and recording their last album in Dave Grohl’s garage, the band have been looking for another ambitious and challenging project to make their new record even more exciting. As it’s also the Foo Fighter’s 20th anniversary, they have gone all out to show the world just how talented they are, and to highlight their childlike enthusiasm for music.
The series and album go hand in hand in documenting the bands journey across America to find the identity of music, or as Dave Grohl explains “It is a love letter to the history of American music.” The Foos go to eight different cities; Chicago, Washington D.C, Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle and New York, and record one song in each city.
Grohl interviews various artists and big names who have distinctive links and sounds with each different place such as; Dolly Parton, Pharrell Williams, LL Cool J, Chuck D and Gibby Haynes – and even President Barack Obama. Grohl then sits down with a bottle of wine and uses the words and phrases from these interviews to write the lyrics for the album.
Each section of each song is designed to tell a story of where the song is from. Taking Foo Fighter’s first song, Something from Nothing, for example, the beginning lyrics are “here lies a city on fire” referring to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It shows the history of the place it was recorded in, and also sets the underlining theme of the song about building something from scratch, which the punk rock movement in Chicago had to do in order to survive. The bridge lyrics “But you can’t make me change my name”, also tell a story and refers to an interview with Buddy Guy, who was told at the beginning of his career to change his name as it was not a strong enough stage-name.
The series itself sees the Foos going behind the scenes inside world famous recording studios such as; Inner Ear and Electrical Audio. They explore the different sounds that originated there and relate it back to their album. Whilst the highly caffeinated yet humble Grohl is directing and leading the documentary, he is joined by band mates; Pat Smear, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel and Chris Shiflett. Whilst generally taking a back seat, each member gets animated and excited about the different places they visit and people they meet.
Whilst some of their songs adopt different musical styles from each city, the band cleverly maintain the rock ‘n’ roll Grohl feel that the Foo Fighters are famous for. The only criticism to make is that the album and series are simply not long enough. An 8 song album just leaves us hanging and begging for more. What the Foos need to do is travel to every single state and have 50 ambitious songs – knowing Dave Grohl, that could definitely be a possibility!
Whilst the anticipation for the new album and series has been fulfilled, fans now have the Foo Fighter’s tour to look forward to next Summer (luckily I have my tickets!). Make sure you get your tickets and look out for when the rock legends are playing!