During the last dark days of Nirvana in 1994, tapes of Dave Grohl’s solo demos circulated among alt rock royalty -- Greg Dulli commented positively about them in more than one place -- but it never seemed that these home-made tapes would be the origin of one of the biggest modern rock bands of the post-grunge era. As it turns out, that’s exactly what Grohl’s Foo Fighters
became, perhaps the one band of the alt rock revolution to continually have success on the charts and in the stadiums without a dip in popularity. It was this consistency that distinguished the Foos; other bands burned brighter, or had bigger hits, but Grohl’s band -- which eventually coalesced into a permanent lineup around the group’s third album -- always climbed into the upper reaches of the charts, churning out singles like “Everlong,” “Learn to Fly,” and “My Hero” that built upon the heavy and melodic, loud-quiet-loud template of the Pixies and Nirvana, pushing it ever so slightly toward the realm of classic guitar rock
Dave Grohl began playing guitar and writing songs in his early teens, as well as performing with a variety of hardcore punk bands. In the late '80s, when he was still in his teens, he joined the Washington, D.C.-area hardcore band Scream as their drummer. During the final days of Scream, Grohl began recording his own material in the basement studio of his friend Barrett Jones. Some of Grohl's songs appeared on Scream's final album, Fumble. Following Scream's 1990 summer tour, Grohl joined Nirvana
and moved to Seattle.
After Nirvana recorded Nevermind, Grohl went back to the D.C. area and recorded a handful of tracks that would appear on Pocketwatch, a cassette released by Simple Machines. For most of 1992, he was busy with Nirvana, but when the band stayed off of the road, he recorded solo material with Jones, who had moved to Seattle. The pair kept recording throughout early 1993, when Grohl returned to Nirvana to record In Utero. Grohl had toyed with the idea of releasing another independent cassette in the summer of 1993, but the plans never reached fruition. Following Kurt Cobain's
suicide in 1994, the drummer kept quiet for several months. In the fall of 1994, booking time in a professional studio, Grohl and Jones recorded the album that became Foo Fighters' debut album in a week. Boiling down his backlog of songs to about 15 tracks, Grohl played all of the instruments on the album. He made 100 copies of the tape, passing it out to friends and associates. In no time, Grohl's solo project became the object of a fierce record company bidding war.
Instead of embarking on a full-fledged solo career, Grohl decided to form a band. Through his wife he met Nate Mendel, the bassist for Sunny Day Real Estate. Shortly before the pair met, Jeremy Enigk, the leader of Sunny Day Real Estate, had converted to Christianity and quit the band, effectively ending the group's career. Not only did Mendel join Grohl's band, but so did Sunny Day's drummer, William Goldsmith; former Germs and Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear rounded out the lineup. The band, named Foo Fighters after a World War II secret force that allegedly researched UFOs, signed a contract with Capitol Records. The band's self-titled debut, consisting solely of Dave Grohl's solo recordings, was released on July 4, 1995. It was an instant success in America, as "This Is a Call" garnered heavy alternative and album rock airplay. By early 1996, the album was certified platinum in the U.S.
Throughout 1996, Foo Fighters supported the album with an extensive tour, enjoying a crossover hit with "Big Me" that spring. Late in the year, the group began recording their second album with producer Gil Norton. During the sessions, William Goldsmith left the band due to creative tensions, leaving Grohl to drum on the majority of the album. Before the record's release in the spring of 1997, Goldsmith was replaced by Taylor Hawkins, who had previously drummed with Alanis Morissette. The Colour and the Shape, Foo Fighters' second album and the first they recorded as a band, was issued in May of 1997. Smear left the group in the wake of the album's completion, and was replaced by guitarist Franz Stahl, whose stay proved short-lived; 1999's There Is Nothing Left to Lose was recorded as a three-piece, with ex-No Use for a Name guitarist Chris Shiflett signing on soon after. One by One, the group's most polished production, appeared in late 2002, followed by 2005's In Your Honor, which narrowly missed the top of -Billboard's album chart. After releasing a live album titled Skin and Bones in 2006, the band returned to Norton's studio and started constructing a dozen fractured and eclectic rock songs to be released in 2007 under the name Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace. Two years later, the group released their first compilation, Greatest Hits, as Grohl launched new supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide