For decades now, whenever you question who the biggest rock band in the world is, Foo Fighters have never not been in the running. Hell, ask anyone with even the slightest interest in rock music that question and they’ll probably tell you it’s the Grohl & The Gang.
Indeed, it’s a fact that Foo Fighters were at the forefront of modern alternative rock for a long time. The band – who formed after the tragic end of Nirvana – released a string of great albums throughout the 90s and 2000s, spawning iconic single after iconic like ‘My Hero’, ‘The Pretender’, ‘Best of You’ and, of course, ‘Everlong’.
These days, it’s a little harder to argue in Foo Fighters‘ honour. The band haven’t released a stellar album since ‘Wasting Light’, which came out in April 2011 – almost a decade ago. Dave Grohl felt like he had something to prove with ‘Wasting Light’, opting to record the entire album in his garage on analogue equipment, avoiding what he believed to be a safety net in digital recording. Speaking about ‘Wasting Light’, Grohl said he wanted to make an album that would ‘define’ Foo Fighters in the way “‘Back in Black'” defined AC/DC” and “the black album defined Metallica“. Some would argue that he had already achieved that goal 14 years earlier with 1997’s ‘The Colour and the Shape’, but I digress.
This theory would pay off majorly, because ‘Wasting Light’, obviously, is a fantastic album. It gave us great songs like ‘Walk’, ‘Bridge Burning’ and ‘Rope’. But in a way, it would begin the decline of the great American rock band. After the success of the bands experimentation with analogue recording, Foo Fighters decided to get a little more extreme with their recording techniques for their next album ‘Sonic Highways’. In 2013 the band decided that they’d record all eight of the album’s songs in different locations, with each song paying sonic homage to the states they were recorded in. What resulted was an overblown, drawn out (eight songs, 42 minutes?!) and lacklustre effort from a band who we expected better from.
‘Concrete and Gold’ followed in 2017 and, whilst the band showed glimpses of past glory with singles ‘Run’ and ‘The Sky Is a Neighbourhood’, the album as a whole was a boring dud. It’s not a knock on the talents of the band as their instrumental performances were still sharp and enjoyable, but it did leave the impression that maybe the Foo Fighters just didn’t have anything to say anymore. After all, at this point they were 22 years and nine studio albums-deep into their career – who could blame them?
Over the last few months, Foo Fighters have been releasing singles from their upcoming 10th studio album ‘Medicine at Midnight’, and whilst the songs aren’t particularly bad, it does have us wondering if the band, who are nearing 27 years in the game, have anything left to say. Not that there’s anything to be ashamed of in that. It’s said in music that a large part of knowing how to play, is knowing when not to. Would it be such a bad thing for Foo Fighters to consider wrapping up their storied studio career with a 10th album and becoming a gigs-only group? When it’s once again possible, there’s definitely a lot of money to be made from Foo Fighters tours. People will go to see Foo Fighters until the band can no longer physically play their instruments. They could, of course, release the odd new single every now and then – but it’s hard to imagine Foo Fighters ever breaking new ground with a whole album ever again.
At the very least, Foo Fighters could consider taking a longer break than usual to really work on something that would be new and exciting. After all, a number of the members have other projects to work on in the meantime. Perhaps Grohl could even meet up with Queens of the Stone Age‘s Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin‘s John Paul Jones and bring out the long-awaited follow up to Them Crooked Vultures‘ fantastic self-titled debut… or at least do a tour when that’s possible. It’s been almost 12 years!
Of course, the new album could absolutely kill it and I’ll have egg on my face. But, until that day it comes, it’s worth asking the question: do Foo Fighters have anything left to say?
What do you think? Answers on a postcard.
Check out Foo Fighters latest single ‘Waiting on a War’ from their upcoming album ‘Medicine at Midnight’ here:
Photo: Danny Clinch