I don’t think this has ever happened before. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen more in love with a band seven studio albums into their career. Isn’t the lust phase supposed to end after a few years? But it has happened – I am head over heels for the Foo Fighters as much now as the first time I laid ears on them. Alright, sorry – I know I can afford to tone down the cheese factor, but for real – their most recent, Wasting Light, is, without a doubt, the Foos’ finest.
I will admit, for a brief moment, I was skeptical and curious to see whether the drummer of Nirvana could pull of a lead singing gig in a brand new band. I remember seeing one of their early videos on Mtv, back in the glory days when Mtv played videos, and thinking, “Hmm, how’s this gonna work out?” Quite well, it would seem.
The Foos still have it. So many bands mellow with age, but the Foos are still clearly evolving as a rock band. They’re rocking it harder than ever. I waited with bated breath for the CD to arrive in my hot little hands, as there are only about three artists left who I need to have their actual CD, to still enjoy that experience of looking through the liner notes and slipping an actual disc into my car stereo. Of course, in this day and age of maximum accessibility, I’d already heard the entire album front to back and back to front weeks before its actual release date, due in large part to James Molls’ documentary Back and Forth.
My fascination with rock stars is and always has been that they are ordinary people living their lives with an extraordinary backdrop. Back and Forth completely feeds into that. Grohl has been labeled “the nicest guy in rock,” and that comes through in Back and Forth, even among band re-orgs and Grohl re-recording all the drum tracks behind early drummer, William Goldsmith’s back. Seeing these five seemingly average guys (albeit wealthy and famous beyond belief) cutting an album in a garage (albeit a garage the size of a house) feeds right into my fascination.
The doc not only chronicles the making of Wasting Light, but the timeline of the band, from Grohl’s time in Nirvana to the present day with the Foos. And for a band that doesn’t divulge or indulge in gossip and tabloid fodder, especially when the lead singer is constantly bombarded with, “Is that song about Kurt Cobain?” it definitely whets the appetite for any fan. And it whets the appetite for those Nirvana fans, too (of whom I am not especially), as Butch Vig produced the album and Krist Novoselic plays bass on the serioulsy kick-ass track, “I Should’ve Known,” which one cannot help but listen to and wonder, “Is that song about Kurt Cobain?” It’s a vicious cycle.
And, of course, there’s the direct hit of the arrow straight to my heart – the clincher, the thing I find most exciting about Wasting Light – it was recorded on analog. There is a moment in Back and Forth where the engineer marks and splices the tape…I am such a little analog geek that I get a little wanderlusty for the days when I wanted to make films…on film. Slightly different mediums, but the concept’s the same. The resulting sound is different, as well, and it’s noticeable on Wasting Light. Analog is richer, it’s fuller, it’s…Filet Mignon. Digital may be convenient and malleable and able to achieve near perfection, but I liken it to a much cheaper cut of meat, like…brisket. I don’t much care for brisket.
What I do care for is the Foo Fighters, Wasting Light and Back and Forth. Check them out – check them all out.