BAKERSFIELD, California — Don't credit Dave Grohl's stint in Queens of the Stone Age for the especially hard rock edge of the new Foo Fighters record. He's had it in him all along.
"Hey man, I've been listening to Slayer since I was 13," the former Nirvana drummer said proudly. "I've been listening to hardcore since I was a little kid. Hardcore, punk rock, death metal, Zeppelin, Hüsker Dü, R.E.M. Everyone has their influences."
One by One, due October 22, takes a U-turn from the pop-inspired There Is Nothing Left to Lose, which included adult contemporary radio candy like "Next Year," back to the raw punk of the band's 1995 self-titled debut.
"Every one of our records is different," Grohl explained in between takes at the video shoot for the raucous new single, "All My Life" (see "Foo Fighters Out To Show They Can 'Really Do It Up' ") "The first one was made in five days, it was a demo tape. Who cares? The second record [The Colour and the Shape] was a lesson in production. We really wanted to get in and make sure sh-- sounded good. The third was a lesson in restraint. A lesson in dynamic and texture and vibe and mood and not going straight for the jugular, writing songs that are beautiful and make sense.
"This album was all about the energy of playing live," he continued. "There's songs on all of the last records that we never play live. They are kind of studio songs. This album, we thought, 'F--- it man, I want this album to be like a set list, like a show.' Every one of the songs I would play every night. And we recorded it in like two weeks, a really short period of time, so that the energy of the performance is a little more frenetic, just more energetic. That's what the songs deserved."
One by One (recently changed from 1 X 1), is also more experimental than anything the Foos have recorded in the past.
"It's wild because when you are recording, there is a line that you get to and you're like, 'OK, there it is,' " Grohl said. "And you don't want to cross that line 'cause you don't want it to get stupid, you don't want it to get weird. On this record, we said, 'F--- the line.' You just keep going. If it gets weird, let it get weird. If it's too rock, let it go. All of the songs were about going as far as we could go with them."
"All My Life," which will hit radio and video outlets in early September, is perhaps the band's most aggressive single ever. Grohl's vocals take a backseat to his guitar work, while Taylor Hawkins drums nearly as brutally as Grohl did with Queens. Hawkins is particularly effective building back from the song's mid-point breakdown.
"This song was one of the first ones we wrote for the record," Grohl said. "It kind of started as an instrumental. It was just a bad-ass riff that built up into this explosive middle section and had some melody to it, but for the most part, it was kind of dissonant, aggressive hard rock song. And I had to find a way to sing to it and I had no idea what to do. I just kind of threw some lyrics together and sang it. I wasn't sure if it was working out or not. And it just turned out to be everyone's favorite."
Although the outcome was different, the Foo Fighters wrote the new record the same way they always have.
"I would have an idea and everyone else would get their hands on it and turn it into something good," Grohl said. "We're just more comfortable with each other and the band. By the time you get to the fourth record, you're just comfortable. You're over the sophomore slump."
Fittingly, One by One features 11 songs, but Grohl said the album's title is actually a reference to relationships.
"Think of it like one person by another person, or one after another," he said. "The word 'one' comes up a lot in a lot of the lyrics. It's used in a lot of the songs. It's kind of weird because it can represent loneliness — 'one is the loneliest number' — or it can represent continuation."
While Grohl thoroughly enjoyed his time drumming with Queens of the Stone Age this summer, he is counting down the days until the release of One by One, which the Foos will promote with a U.S. tour.
"It's different than anything we've ever done in that it is darker and more aggressive, and I dig it, man," Grohl said. "It's nice to be able to choose your destiny and steer your ship into the direction you want to go in and just let it happen. It kind of takes its course. It's not a contrived decision. It's like, 'Wow, it's turning into this.' Of course we wanted to make a rock record, but sh--, we never knew what kind it would be."
For a feature interview with Dave Grohl, check out "Dave Grohl: Rock Royal."
One by One track list, according to a Foo Fighters spokesperson:
- "All My Life"
- "Have It All"
- "Times Like These"
- "Disenchanted Lullaby"
- "Tired of You"
- "Lonely as You"
- "Burn Away"
- "Come Back"