Foo Fighters & 'SNL' Producers Break Down What Goes Into the Show's Musical Performances

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Foo Fighters in Creating Saturday Night Live: Live Music.

For over 40 years, Saturday Night Live has served as a platform for established performers to play their top hits and for newcomers to get their big break. In a behind the scenes YouTube clip, producers of the variety show give a peek into the trust, dedication, and emotions that go into those major musical performances.

“I think the role of the musical guest is to break up the show,” said producer Lauren Shookus. “Lorne [Michaels] came up with this format of the show so long ago and it works for a reason. It’s not just 90 minutes of comedy. He wants those musical breaks,” she continued. 

The process happens over three days. Thursdays are for soundcheck, lighting, promos, and those signature portraits. If a musical guest is in a sketch, they rehearse that on Thursday and Friday. Saturday requires another soundcheck, a dress rehearsal, and finally the big performance.

Associate producer Melanie Malone rattled off a list of artists that she’s been excited to see grace the SNL stage, including Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Rihanna, A Tribe Called Quest, Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars. “Bruno Mars is amazing, he brings it all and then some. All of these performers have just utilized that stage and made it their own,” she said. 

Malone also talked about what it's like to have repeat guests. "You get to grow up with the band," she said. Take Foo Fighters, for instance. The band, who performed on SNL as recently as December 2017, have been musical guests seven times.

Dave Grohl -- who first appeared on SNL with Nirvana -- weighed in on what the show's live music means to him. “Musically, I think SNL has always represented something really important.” He contrasts the experience of performing on SNL with that of performing in a stadium. “When you’re playing a show in a stadium or arena, you run out on stage and your adrenaline’s pumping,” he said. “Here, it’s like you’re getting thrown into a cold lake.”

Check out the clip below.