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Inhale the deepest breath you can, hold it for a second, then try to scream the following verse at the top of your lungs (all in that single breath): 

One last thing before I quit, I never wanted any more than I could fit into my head, I still remember every single word you said and all the shit that somehow came along with it, still there’s one thing that comforts me, since I was always caged and now I’m free. 

Can you imagine delivering that and 18-20 other blistering compositions just like it on consecutive nights, while guitaring your fingers raw and holding court over a massive mosh pit of testosterone-fueled teenagers? Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters have made a career of it.

Rising from the ashes of the great Nirvana in late 1994, few people imagined the Foo Fighters would eventually stake a more significant claim in the rock n’ roll landscape than Grohl’s prior band. After all, in their beginning the Foos were but half the iconic band, if you include Pat Smear. Grohl and Smear waited six months after Kurt Cobain’s funeral to recruit Sunny Day Real Estate’s bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith. Sunny Day Nirvana just didn’t have a good ring to it (and Courtney Hole would’ve surely sued for copyrights), so Grohl named his new band after a secret military force from World War II and promptly signed with Capitol Records.

The self-titled debut arrived on the July 4th, 1995, a full-on assault of punk and garage rock designed to shred car stereos and pack the sweaty rock clubs of America. Immediate modern rock radio favorites like “This is a Call” and the popular-by-way-of-Mentos-video “Big Me” established Grohl as more than just a surviving drummer. Who knew the guy could write, sing, and play guitar with the best of them? By the time 1997’s The Colour and the Shape hit, Foo Fighters were among the biggest drawing live acts on the scene, commanding top dollar whether opening for the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers or headlining themselves. The most significant part of the Colour and the Shape tour, however, came when Alanis Morissette’s drummer Taylor Hawkins replaced Goldsmith, who never could see eye to eye with Grohl. 

Foo Fighters

MTV and radio hits like “Monkey Wrench” and “Everlong” legitimized Foo Fighters but Grohl’s impressive catalog was just starting to be realized. 1999 saw the release of the largely successful Nothing Left to Lose. Balls-out punk rock anthems like “Stacked Actors” and “Breakout” were paired with the melody-rich “Learn to Fly” (which came by way of yet another classic video), giving the Foos more than enough material to pack arenas every night and play for two hours. In 2002, staying true to form and living up to a tag of each new record being better than the last, they delivered One by One, arguably their best record to date. “All My Life” is a long-time fan favorite, while “Times Like These” has been gobbled up by several teen movie soundtracks. (If you can find the acoustic version of “Times Like These”, it’s really something special!) 

An extensive double-disc set, half hard rock and half acoustic, called In Your Honor came out in 2005 and displays just how far the Foos have come in a decade. Many critics screamed “stay the course!” in disapproval of the kinder, gentler side of Grohl, though it didn’t keep him from touring in support of Honor and even doing select dates completely acoustic. Whether loud and fierce or laid-back and more poignant, Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters charge headlong into their second decade with a now-legendary songbook and every bit as much momentum as the late Nirvana had in the waning months of their career.

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