18 Years Ago: Foo Fighters’ ‘Foo Fighters’ Album Released
When Kurt Cobain committed suicide on April 5, 1994, Nirvana fans the world over were shocked and saddened. Why would a young man with such tremendous talent end his own life? One of those people scrambling to put it all together was Nirvana’s drummer Dave Grohl. As he described in his 2013 SXSW keynote speech, he thought his career as a musician was over. “The music that I had devoted my life to had … betrayed me.”
Which is why, when Grohl released the Foo Fighters self-titled debut album on July 4, 1995, fifteen months later, it took most fans by surprise. Eighteen years later, it still has the same goosebump-inducing effect.
Packed full of accessible, hooky, guitar-centric songs — the majority of which were recorded completely by Grohl himself — ‘Foo Fighters’ proved that he’d been Nirvana’s George Harrison: The guy sitting on a mountain of amazing songs that were just dying to get out. And possibly the most incredible revelation of all: Grohl was as good (or dare we say better) a pop songwriter than Cobain. Just take the album’s string of radio hits — ‘This Is a Call,’ ‘I’ll Stick Around’ and ‘Big Me’ (the first three tracks on the album) — expertly layered opuses that soak in all the best aspects of pop, punk, metal, what would later become emo and that impossible-to-categorize Grohl cheese (see: ‘Big Me’ and ‘For All the Cows’; later examples include ‘See You’ and ‘Walking After You’ from ‘The Colour and the Shape’).
Unlike some artists who record their debut albums with the “sound of the moment” (and are subsequently left with records that age about as well as month-old limburger cheese), Foo Fighters arrived with a collection that, 18 years later, sounds like it could’ve come out yesterday. With sparse production, guitars distorted in all the right places and Grohl’s gigantic drums and vox, the album is a solo masterwork. (The follow-up, ‘The Colour and the Shape,’ is the full band’s true debut). And U.S. audiences — the most fickle in the world — have responded: ‘Foo Fighters’ has been certified platinum and sold well over a million copies.