Foo Fighters: 'Sonic Highways' Aiming Skyward

BY Andy Richardson

1st Jan 2015 Music

Foo Fighters: 'Sonic Highways' Aiming Skyward

2015 marks the 20th anniversary of that monumental moment when ‘nicest guy in rock’, Dave Grohl, picked up his sticks (and all the other instruments in fact) and recorded the Foo Fighters' self-titled debut. Following the death of band-mate and Rock ‘n’ Roll icon, Kurt Cobain, Grohl amassed a mighty selection of his own songs written during the rise and untimely fall of Nirvana and recorded everything in five days. It is for this reason, among many others, that Foo Fighters have been assigned the ‘band of the month’ accolade. Moreover, it coincides with their new record, Sonic Highways.

Sonic Highways: A Sizable Project 

Not many bands have a carbon footprint that is as impressive as their history but whether or not former Nirvana sticksman and his band are collecting air miles in preparation for what is shaping up to be a heavy year of relentless touring, they sure do get around. But that’s kinda their thing now. New album, Sonic Highways, is a musical road trip of America. In visiting 8 cities across the country, Foo Fighters map out their new album and make a documentary of the same name along the way. It sounds farcical and downright impossible given the scope of such a project, but these guys can literally do anything they want at this point. And do what they want they shall!

In a similar manner to Dave Grohl’s directorial debut, Sound City (2013), Sonic Highways pays tribute to America’s rich tapestry of musicians and industry folk, but on this sonic highway all roads lead to Grohl in that each of the eight episodes culminate in the band writing and performing a song entirely informed and inspired by their visit. Featuring interviews along the way with living legends such as Buddy Guy, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Billy Gibbons and even the President of the United States, Barak Obama which all feed into the overall album. It’s tastefully done but, naturally, this album has not come without its criticisms. It seems commonplace to massively anticipate the next Foo Fighters release and then still feel disappointed that it doesn’t sound like 1995's eponymous album.      

Quit Dismissing Foo Fighters!

A band like Foo Fighters are so easily (and ignorantly) criticised for so many reasons; for having the gall to be a band following the death of Kurt Cobain and then, ironically, not sounding like Nirvana to name but two. Now with a huge body of work under their belts the feeling is that they've become a bit of a one trick horse. So where can they go after two massively successful albums without treading familiar ground? The answer is skyward.  But that might require a few adjustments to the tried and tested formula that got them to this point.

1999’s There is Nothing Left to Lose saw a change in pace with more downbeat and intricate tracks such as ‘Aurora’, ‘Ain't it the Life’ and ‘Next Year’, while maintaining their signature sound with album opener ‘Stacked Actors’, hit single, ‘Breakout’, and quirky talk-box effected ‘Generator’ (influenced in part by Joe Walsh who features on Sonic Highways). Not only did this album mark their departure from flat-out post-grunge, but also showed that there was, musically, more to them than people expected and therefore more for people to love (or criticise).

But 20 years on from those first recordings Grohl wrote and performed single-handedly, Foo Fighters couldn’t be stronger and Sonic Highways not only demonstrates that in it’s colossal undertaking, but in it’s maturity (namely the track ‘Subterranean’). It borders ‘dad-rock’ at times but they are all fathers so I guess that’s accurate. When all is said and done, it’s their sheer lovability, the obvious sense of fun still at play and their unrelenting work ethic that makes Foo Fighters not only one of the biggest acts on the planet but one of, if not the most, well deserving and enjoyable bands still making music today. 

Sonic Highways is available to buy from iTunes and Amazon

Dave talks about the project




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