Bassist Nate Mendel stuck with Foo Fighters as the band developed its
sound and endured several personnel changes.
Comparisons to Foo Fighters founder/guitarist Dave Grohl's previous group,
Nirvana, have died down, and the band seems to have won over doubting
critics, as well as many record buyers, with the new There Is Nothing
Left to Lose.
Nathan Gregor Mendel was born Dec. 2, 1968, in Washington. Growing up
around Seattle, Mendel played in punk-influenced bands such as Product
of Rape, Diddly Squat and Christ on a Crutch. He also worked at a
construction site and in a cookie factory to earn money for college, where
he double-majored in history and journalism.
In 1992 Mendel, drummer William Goldsmith and guitarist/singer Dan Hoerner
formed Chewbacca Kaboom, who soon changed their name to Sunny Day Real
Estate. Later that year, the melodic punk band issued a single called
"Flatland Spider" on its own One Day I Stopped Breathing Records. The
music was filled with fast drums, loud guitars and anguished singing.
Sunny Day Real Estate soon added singer Jeremy Enigk, who was present on
the single "Thief, Steal Me a Peach." The song brought the band to the
attention of Sub Pop Records, which issued Sunny Day's debut LP, Diary,
in 1994. It featured such tracks as "Seven" and "In Circles." But stresses
within the band caused them to split the following year.
Grohl, meanwhile, had his own stress. In the wake of Nirvana frontman
Kurt Cobain's April 1994 suicide, Grohl gathered together songs he'd
written and recorded them with a friend. When a bidding war among record
companies erupted over the demo, Grohl decided to form a band officially.
He recruited Mendel and Goldsmith and guitarist Pat Smear and christened
the group Foo Fighters, after a cabal of World War II fighter pilots who
allegedly had encounters with and chased UFOs.
The acclaimed Foo Fighters was issued on Capitol Records in 1995
and featured tracks such as "This Is a Call" and "Big Me." During sessions
for their second LP, Goldsmith quit, leaving Grohl to handle most of the
Foo Fighters replaced Goldsmith with Taylor Hawkins before the release
of The Colour and the Shape (1997). The LP featured "Everlong"
excerpt) and "Monkey Wrench."
Though he and Goldsmith returned to Sunny Day Real Estate for a while,
Mendel decided ultimately to stick with Foo Fighters. Smear quit Foo
Fighters permanently at the end of 1997.
"We talked about musically changing things radically," Mendel said of this
year's There Is Nothing Left to Lose. The album includes such
tracks as "Learn to Fly," "Gimme Stitches," "Stacked Actors" and "Breakout."
Foo Fighters are now making the talk-show circuit as well as touring the
world to promote the album.
Other birthdays Thursday: Roebuck "Pops" Staples (the Staples), 84; Tom
McGuinness (Manfred Mann), 58; Ted Buechel Jr. (Association), 57; Dave
Munden (Tremeloes), 56; Michael McDonald, 47; Rick Savage (Def Leppard),
39; Jimi Haha (Jimmie's Chicken Shack), 31; Treach (Naughty by Nature),
29; and Britney Spears, 18.