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Having commemorated their tenth anniversary with a year-plus run commencing with a double studio album hailed by the New York Times as “an unexpected magnum opus,” a sold out arena tour built on that first disc’s rock foundation followed by a toned down and intimate theater trek that highlighted the softer side showcased on that record’s second half and capped off by a headlining gig at London’s Hyde Park for a crowd of 85,000, the question looms larger than any in the Foo Fighters’ career to date: What do they do for an encore?!?
The answer, in the form of the band’s sixth studio album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace is a resounding “whatever the fuck we want.” Ably assisted by producer Gil Norton, who last worked with the band on 1997’s double-platinum The Colour and The Shape (recently reissued in deluxe 10th anniversary form), Dave Grohl, bassist Nate Mendel, drummer Taylor Hawkins and guitarist Chris Shiflett have crafted a 12-track milestone that showcases and reconciles the band’s every strength and sensibility in the most complex and confident Foo Fighters album to date.
“Everyone in the band has become a better writer and a better player,” Grohl says. “This record is the sound of us realizing that we’re capable of things we never were before. It sounds fearless.
“But that also made the process more difficult. Breaking away from any kind of boundaries meant we were writing everything from country to old-school metal to piano and string arrangements, which meant we didn’t know what kind of album this was until it was finally done.”
The road to Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace has been anything but easy. Even the formation of Foo Fighters as a band is hard to pin down to a concrete date or circumstance, 1995’s now classic self-titled debut itself evolving from home recordings of compositions created largely during Grohl’s tenure in Nirvana. Having handled all instruments and vocals save for a guest guitar spot from Afghan Whig/Twilight Singer Greg Dulli on “X-Static,” Grohl recruited Mendel, guitarist Pat Smear and drummer William Goldsmith to bring life to “This Is A Call,” “I’ll Stick Around,” “For All The Cows” and the MTV VMA-winning “Big Me” to stages the world over. This first Foo Fighters line-up would do just that, beginning well before the release of Foo Fighters with a U.S. club tour on which they pulled double duty as support act and backing band for Mike Watt.