For the Foo Fighters eighth studio album, entitled “Sonic Highways”, the band traveled to eight different cities to record a track in each. While there singer Dave Grohl sat down with musicians and producers that call that city their home and discussed their influences on the music scene. The whole process was documented (directed by Grohl) for an eight part mini series for HBO airing Friday nights.
In the premiere episode the band traveled to Chicago and set up shop in Electrical Audio Studios to record in one weeks time the opening track for their new album.
This episode chronicles the city’s musical evolution from the blues of Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters in the ’50s and ’60s, to the classic Midwestern rock of Cheap Trick in the ’70s and the punk rock of the ’80s, as exemplified by Naked Raygun.
Another aspect of this episode was on Electrical Audio Studios owner and friend of Grohl, Steve Albini. Albini, a musician on his own, is more notably known for being music engineer. He has reputation for being tough to work with but genuine at heart. His contract with musicians, unlike most music “producers” (a term he hates), ends when the album and his work is done. He does not take any percentages from album sales, a decision that sometimes is costly as rent is high at the studio. His most famous work on an album came from Grohl’s old band, Nirvana’s third album “In Utero”.
The highlight of the episode for me was Rick Nielsen (guitarist of Cheap Trick) joining the band in the studio to record baritone guitar parts on their new song. Watching them jam with one of their childhood idols is something every musician dreams of.
At the end of the episode, like every episode, the band released an in studio music video for the track they recorded while in Chicago, entitled “Something From Nothing”.
Sonic Highways is not only a unique concept for a recording an album, but also a musical journey across the United States. As Dave Grohl puts it “The environment in which you write or record an album influences the musical result”.
Stay tuned for the next episode, “Washington, DC” airing Friday night on HBO. Foo Fighters will release their new album on November 10th.