The late eighties gave birth to one of the most influential rock bands of all time and parent’s to the grunge genre, Nirvana. Nirvana was formed in 1987 by frontman/ guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. Between the band’s first rehearsal and hitting the studio to start their second album, Nevermind, the band went through numerous drummers. In September of 1990 they found their perfect fit, Dave Grohl. Novoselic stated “We knew in two minutes that he was the right drummer”. The band’s first album with their final lineup was the hit record Nevermind which included singles such as Smells Like Teen Spirit, Lithium and Come as You Are. Nevermind was recorded at Sound City Studios in California with producer Butch Vig. The album took roughly two months to record with the band working eight to ten hours a day. Grohl and Novoselic had their drum and bass tracks finished in just a few days, but the guitar and vocal layers, as well as finalizing the lyrics took much longer.
After the initial mixes of each track were complete, both the band and their producer Vig were far from satisfied with the sound. Cobain then chose to bring in Andy Wallace, co-producer of Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss, to oversee the mixing process. Novoselic stated “We said ‘right on’, because those Slayer records were so heavy”. Wallace did his magic and at first the band loved what he had done. Though, after the album was released, the band was displeased with the polished sound the album had taken on. Cobain stated “Looking back on the production of Nevermind, I’m embarrassed by it now. It’s closer to a Mötley Crüe record than it is a punk rock record.”
Shortly after Cobain’s death in 1994, Nirvana’s drummer Dave Grohl set off to form a new rock project, the Foo Fighters. The band’s debut self titled album credited Grohl as the band’s only official member. So just before the album’s release date, Grohl started recruiting members. Then in 1997 the band got back into the studio to work on the project’s second album/ whole group debut The Colour and the Shape which included hit singles such as Everlong and My Hero.
Like Nirvana’s Nevermind, Foo Fighters’ album The Colour and the Shape took only two months to record, this time at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood. Bassist Nate Mendel stated that Grandmaster Recorders was “a small studio that sometimes moonlighted as a porn set, and looked the part.” At the start of recording, the band’s drummer, William Goldsmith, left the group. This lead to Grohl performing the majority of the drum tracks while Goldsmith’s takes remained on only two songs. The composition of the album touched home for all the members, though mostly Grohl. This was a time when Grohl had just started to become comfortable with his voice and started writing lyrics with meaning. Much of the lyrics revolved around Grohl’s recent divorce, he stated “Wow, I can actually write about things I feel strongly about and things that mean something to me and things I wouldn’t normally say in everyday conversation.”
Personally, I have never been a fan of Nirvana, I remember everyone is middle school being absolutely obsessed with the band. I listened to every one of their albums multiple times trying to like them but, it just wasn’t in my taste. In my own humble opinion, the best thing Nirvana ever did was introduce Dave Grohl to world. I have been a fan of the Foo Fighters since the very first time I heard them on the radio. They were one of the bands that inspired me to take up music in the first place. Even years later when I was just starting to learn audio recording techniques, Grohl’s influence on me was still present. His documentary on Sound City is what sparked the “tone hunter” in me and in turn drove me to dump my solid state amps and nearly go broke buying tube and analog gear.
Dooley, S. (1991, May 02). This Day in Music Spotlight: Nirvana Begins Recording. Retrieved from http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/spotlight-0502-2011.aspx
Peters, M. (2011, March 25). Foo Fighters: The Billboard Cover Story. Retrieved from http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/472359/foo-fighters-the-billboard-cover-story
Robbins, I. (1991, November 28). Nevermind. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/nevermind-19911128
Schiller, M. (2007, August 22). Foo Fighters: The Colour and the Shape. Retrieved from http://www.popmatters.com/feature/foo-fighters-the-colour-and-the-shape/