Emerging, phoenix-like, from the ashes of Nirvana, Foo Fighters perfectly exemplify the old adage that "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade!" And it's been some sweet lemonade Dave Grohl has served up, too. Grohl had been secretly making and recording his own music for years, even while serving as drummer for the seminal Nirvana. But after Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994, Grohl recorded a demo of 15 songs, playing all the instruments himself, that ignited a major label bidding war. Grohl signed to Capitol and assembled a band made up of former Sunny Day Real Estate members Nate Mendel (bass) and William Goldsmith (drums), as well as legendary Germs and Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear. Their self-titled 1995 debut album, though, was basically just produced versions of Grohl's demos. Goldsmith left during the recording of the band's 2nd album, leaving Grohl to handle drumming duties for The Colour And The Shape. Taylor Hawkins joined as drummer just before the release of that album in 1997. Smear soon announced his departure and was very briefly replaced by Franz Stahl, who left before the recording of 1999's There Is Nothing Left To Lose, which was mostly recorded as a trio. In the next few years, Chris Shiflett was added on guitar, and Grohl took time off to join Queens of the Stone Age, an experience which led him to rework some of the tracks on the nearly-completed next Foo Fighters album, One By One which was released in 2002. Their next effort, 2005's In Your Honor was a double album divided up into electric and acoustic discs.
When thinking of the Foo Fighters, we always like to use the Joy Division/New Order analogy. Just as New Order took the gloomy dance punk of Joy Division and, after the death of a key member (Ian Curtis), turned it into sunnier chart-topping electronic pop, so the Foo Fighters took the self-hating punk grunge of Nirvana and turned it into positive, hook-filled, radio-friendly guitar pop. From the pounding wake-up alarum of "This Is A Call" off their debut, to 2005's "yes you can" anthem "Best of You," Grohl has mastered the art of the 3 minute rock single and the skill of screaming at the top of one's lungs without actually sounding, you know, angry.