BALTIMORE — Over the last 18 months, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl got bored with music and contemplated breaking up his band — then he changed his mind, wrote 40 songs in his bedroom, built an 8,000-square-foot recording studio and decided to make a double album.
And after all that, you think he’d be pretty tired. But just get him talking about his band’s new double album, In Your Honor (which comes out on June 14), and his eyes bug out and he starts waving his arms — to say he’s excited would be the understatement of our young century.
“If someone asked me which Led Zeppelin album to buy, I would tell them Physical Graffiti, because it has such a wide dynamic and it shows the range that band had. And that’s what we wanted to do with this album,” he said, backstage at last weekend’s HFStival (see “Foo Fighters, Good Charlotte Usher In Summer Concert Season” ). “One CD is beautiful, orchestrated, acoustic-based music, and one CD is really aggressive, anthemic rock stuff. It shows our whole dynamic. The first song on the rock record is insane, it sounds like Motörhead. It’s super heavy. And then on the acoustic record, there are some songs that are really beautiful and quiet and delicate, so it shows this wide range of sound.”
He’s not kidding. The songs on Honor‘s “anthemic” side are some of the heaviest things the band has ever written, and the “beautiful” side features some of the quietest, gentlest tunes ever to bear the Foo stamp of approval (see “Foo Fighters Album Preview: Grohl Gets Grand On In Your Honor” ). It’s completely unexpected, but also totally what you’d expect from a motivated, rejuvenated Grohl.
“At one point I was demo-ing this stuff at my house, writing riffs and little pieces of songs, and I downloaded it onto a hard drive and [realized] it was five hours of music. And I thought, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got to make a double album!’ ” he said. “I mean, we’ve been a band for 10 years now, this is our fifth record, and I thought it would be boring to just keep making album after album and making videos and playing festivals, so I wanted to do something special.”
He also decided to invite some guests, including Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, Led Zeppelin legend John Paul Jones and, in a move that seemed to royally piss off a lot of Foo fans, maven of mellow Norah Jones (see “Foo Fighters Joined In Studio By John Paul Jones, Norah Jones” ).
“The song with Norah Jones, ‘Virginia Moon,’ is eight years old, but it never made sense on any of the records we’d made previously, because it’s hard to put an acoustic song in the middle of a rock record,” Grohl explained. “So I thought, ‘Now that we’re doing this acoustic record, maybe it can see the light of day.’ And I heard a Norah Jones record and I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this is her vibe. She does jazz.’ And her voice was so smooth and warm that I figured it would work out great with mine.
“So she came to the studio, and she was only in there for three hours. She was perfect,” he continued. “A lot of people think it’s really weird, like ‘What the hell is she doing on there?’ They’re thinking it’s like ‘Monkey Wrench’ with Norah Jones in the background. But when people hear the acoustic record, they’ll understand where it’s coming from.”
Not surprisingly, Grohl is already cooking up some tour plans that are as ambitious as his band’s new album.
“We wanted to do this tour where it was two nights: a Friday night rock show and a Saturday night acoustic show. And the rock show would be at a big place, and then Saturday night in a small theater. So hopefully we can pull it off,” he said. “And I think we’re going to do a fall tour with Weezer — we’re really excited for that one.
“Basically, we’re excited about everything,” he enthused. “Because everything we’ve done up until this point has led up to this, and it’s almost like we’re back at square one. It’s almost like we’re a new band now.”