With the Foo Fighters nabbing six nominations, including album of the year, the band’s frontman and “Wasting Light” producer talk about their all-analog achievement and look back on a 20-year history of great music.
The Grammys shed 31 categories in April, but the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl has a suggestion for one they should add: “Best garage record. Wouldn’t that be f–ing rad?” says the 43-year-old frontman. “Or best old-school album,” offers producer of the year nominee Butch Vig, 56. They’re not entirely kidding, though it’s doubtful they’d have much competition. That’s because Wasting Light, the Foos’ seventh album, was an all-analog production created by meticulously stitching together pieces of 2-inch tape, as was the usual practice until the mid-’90s, when digital recording became commonplace. “You have to be a little insane to make a record this way,” says Vig, who also produced Nirvana’s seminal 1991 album Nevermind. “And I’ve got all these young bands asking, ‘Will you do records in analog now?’ My answer is, ‘Not unless you can play as good as the Foo Fighters!’ ” Weeks of preproduction and rehearsals in a top-of-the-line studio preceded four months spent in Grohl’s garage in the San Fernando Valley, which offered the best of two worlds, allowing him to spend time with his wife and two daughters and make the band’s most challenging — and likely most gratifying — album, the first to get a Grammy nom for album of the year (the Foos have six noms this year). Says Grohl: “To me, it’s the greatest honor. It blew me away.” Still, he adds a dose of modesty: “It’s not rocket science. If you’re semi-decent at an instrument and grew up with Beatles albums, make a f–ing record in your garage. You might get a Grammy nomination. It’s not an impossibility.”
The Hollywood Reporter: It is somewhat ironic that before starting your all-analog garage record, you did weeks of pre-production in a top-of-the-line facility…
Butch Vig: A million dollar studio.
Dave Grohl: Then recorded it in the garage, which is exactly the opposite of what most people do. I thought the most important thing was the environment in which we record and how we do it. Rather than just walk into the nicest studio in town and go through the same process that every other band goes through. Why not make it exciting? It made perfect sense to me. Butch is great at making bands sound great. I’m usually sort of shifting in this other sort of direction. I want it to sound great in kind of a f–ked up way and Butch and I sort of met together. There’s a few bands that have their Butch Vig record — like Sonic Youth have their Butch Vig record, Nirvana has their Butch Vig record and that record always stands out in the catalog as a really masterful piece of work. I just wanted that, I wanted a Butch Vig record so bad.
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