Try as he might, Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl just can’t write a song without a strong melody.
“That’s the bain of my existence,” he says with a laugh. “I’d love to write Motorhead and Slayer songs all day long. I love writing riffs and coming up with heavy patterns, but at the end of the day, I’m a sucker for a sweet melody, whether it’s the Beach Boys or ABBA. It’s like picking a lock — when you hear it click, you know you’ve stumbled onto the right melody.”
Melodies abound on “In Your Honor,” a two-disc set coming from the Foos June 14 on RCA in the United States and one day earlier in the rest of the world.
The first disc is a straight-ahead rock album, while the second features 10 acoustic songs.
“I look at this record as kind of the end of one chapter and the beginning of something new,” Grohl says. “The last 10 years have all been about working up to this point. With the rock record, we finally got the aggressive, anthemic thing down. With the acoustic album, it offers some kind of look into the future of things we’re capable of doing and the direction we could move if we wanted to.”
The idea, Grohl says, was to span the musical range of the band — which also includes Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel and Chris Shiflett — by showing the extremes of its sound.
The two-disc set is priced at $19.98, $1 more than the standard list price for a single-disc release.
“I remember having the pricing discussion with my lawyer and her explaining to me that you don’t get paid the same amount for each song that you would if you released them separately, but the whole idea was to display the contrast” between the two albums, Grohl says. “I thought they’d complement each other in one package, and I don’t need any more money. I’m fine, thanks.”
Foo Fighters recorded the album in their new 8,000-square-foot studio in California’s San Fernando Valley. “We call it ‘the Abbey Road of Northridge,'” Grohl jokes.
The creation of the studio and album is captured on a limited-edition DualDisc. The 20-minute film is on the flip side of the rock record; the flip side of the acoustic album is a 5.1 mix of the acoustic tracks. RCA will make 25,000 copies of the limited edition available in the United States for $29.98. The label is also pressing a limited vinyl run of 5,000 four-LP sets.
When Grohl started writing the music, he envisioned composing a film score. Then it morphed into an acoustic album of songs, and then, he says, “I realized I couldn’t live without rock’n’roll,” and the double-album was born.
With the rock album, Grohl says he focused on “general themes that everyone can get their hands on.” But for the acoustic set, he wrote lyrics that are “vulnerable and revealing. I never get specific about anything, but a lot of the lyrics are things that I wouldn’t say out loud, wouldn’t even admit to myself.” Guests include Norah Jones, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones.
Grohl knows that listeners always believe that he is mining his Nirvana past for material, and he freely admits that “Friend of a Friend” (which he wrote 15 years ago and is on the acoustic album) is about the first time he met Nirvana bandmates Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. But other than that, he laughs at the interpretations fans make. “People imagine that there are only two or three people in my life I write songs about; there are a lot of people that I love and hate.”
The band will spend part of the summer playing European festivals then head for Japan for the Fuji Rock Festival. A proper U.S. tour will begin in September, and Grohl is already excited. “I can’t wait until I’m stuck on a bus, watching ‘Office Space’ for the millionth time and eating a pizza in Utah. That’s my perfect day.”
Unlike many of his contemporaries — and musical heroes — Grohl has avoided licensing the Foos’ music for commercials, aside from a beer ad in Japan that he says ensured the band’s dressing room will be stocked with Kirin.
“It kind of breaks my heart when I hear a classic song that changed my life in a car commercial,” Grohl says. “Integrity means a lot to me. The fucking tiny shred that we’ve maintained over the last 10 years, I guard with my life.”
Excerpted from the June 11, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available to subscribers.
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