The Foo Fighters & drummers who get off the throne to lead the band
*intro music credit: "Wake Up High" by REC, featuring Nick DeMatteo
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Welcome to WEEK 244 of MUSIC is not a GENRE (Video #70 & S3Ep35)
The Foo Fighters – Drummers Who RULE Once They Get OFF the Throne
When we think of drummers, we imagine them on their throne behind the kit pounding away, maintaining the beat & structure of songs, and giving them energy they’d never have otherwise. We might see a mic off to the side for some backup vocals or the rare lead vocal. If a drummer comes out from the kit, it’s to take a break or a bow. That’s pretty damn accurate as far as 95% of drummers go (that percentage has been scientifically measured by The Guesstimators).
But what about that other (scientifically measured) 5%? What do they do? They rule – on AND off the throne. They not only kick-ass on a kit, they kick it on the mic and in the studio and with a pen & paper. It’s the difference between a titular monarch and one who actually calls the shots. These drummers go from laying the foundation to ruling the entire castle.
Plenty of drummers have sung backup or the occasional lead – Roger Taylor, Peter Criss, Grant Hart, even Foo’s Taylor Hawkins. Much respect but they aren’t the subject here. I’m not even talking about all the very worthy drummers who sang lead from the start – like Dave Clark, Mickey Dolenz, Levon Helm, Sheila E., Anderson .Paak, etc. Or the multi-instrumentalists who drummed whenever – McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Todd Rundgren, Prince.
And this is absolutely not about lead singers who CAN drum but didn’t play that role in any significant way, like Rick Astley, Chris Cornell or Jack White. This is about drummers who went from virtual silence to running the whole show. I’m talking full frontperson status, like Ringo Starr, Phil Collins, Karen Carpenter, Don Henley, aaaaaand Dave Grohl.
The Foo Fighters are now legends. They’ve been around over 25 years. So Dave Grohl emerges from the destruction of one legendary band to create another. He was already a veteran by 1994, and already writing & recording his own songs. He had a ton of options post Nirvana, but fronting his own band was the next logical step.
And boy did the Foos come out of the gate roaring. Grohl recorded almost everything on that first album, which is an indication of how much he needed to ascend. Every step since then has been Grohl and his bandmates – the core of which has been intact for over a decade – doing more & finding more challenges to tackle. Killing it live. Conquering the pop charts – every album has had at least one massive hit, no matter what else was going on in the charts. Recording & writing on the road and making it a TV show. Adding to their sound.
Their early work was thrilling to me. It was therapeutic to hear that passion burst forth after Kurt Cobain’s death. It felt like what Nirvana might have done had they continued, because it merged grunge with earlier hard rock and most importantly power pop. The Foos’ music had everything I was looking for, and has influenced me time and again over the years. There are songs on every REC album from Parts and Labour onward that take cues from the Foos. Most recently, this song here:
REC – “Don’t Say You Don’t” (from the album Synergy for the Weird)
Do you remember what it felt like to hear the Foo Fighters’ first music so soon after Cobain’s death? Was it a surprise how amazing Dave Grohl was at everything from the very beginning? Did you expect them to have such staying power, to become the hard rock standard bearers & ambassadors? Discuss dammit!