How ‘One by One’ Nearly Destroyed Foo Fighters
Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at the album ‘One by One’ and how it almost destroyed Foo FIghters.
By the late 90’s Foo Fighters would establish themselves as one of the popular alternative rock acts on the scene. Having come off the success of third album 1999’s album there is Nothing Left to Lose it appeared that the band had finally found some peace. Their sophomore record 1997’s The Colour and Shape while a huge success, was tumultuous time for the group. The recording sessions dragged on, while drummer William Goldsmith would depart the group on bad terms after having his drum parts re-recorded by Grohl without his knowledge. I’ve done a whole video on this feud. The link is down below. In addition to that guitarist Pat Smear would leave the band during the tour only to be replaced by Franz Stahl, an old bandmate of Grohl’s from his previous group Scream. Foo Fighters spent nearly two years on the road supporting their second album and when it came to write there 3rd record, 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose, Stahl didn’t gel with the band and was fired. The band would record their third record as a three piece and enlist guitarist Chris Schiflett to join them on tour as their new lead guitarist.
Work would begin on foo fighters 4th record as early as August of 2000 with Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins coming up with song ideas.
The band would spend the remainder of the year and a good chunk of 2001 on the road.
By the summer of 2001 the band would hit some rough times though While on tour in the UK drummer Taylor Hwakins would have a near fatal drug overdose following the band’s performance at the V2001 Festival. He would spend 2 weeks in a coma. it would result in the band cancelling the remainder of their tour dates. A press release that was sent out by the band’s management claiming Hawkins had and i quote “apparently overindulged” at a party following the festival performance.
Once Hawkins had recovered, the band would retreat to Taylor’s studio in Topanga, Calif to work on their fourth record, but from the sart band wasn’t gelling. In 2002 Grohl would admit to Billboard just how tense and unsuccessful the sessions were revealing
At the time, we were making an album that wasn’t working. We’d started in October of 2001. After about three-and-a-half months, I realized it didn’t sound familiar. “It didn’t sound like the band does live. It didn’t feel right. With our band, the most important thing is that the songs feel right and the recordings feel good. It’s more about the feel than anything. We were so focused on production, because our intent was to make this big rock record. But your energy tends to wane after three months. Spontaneity and energy have a lot to do with rock, and rock records shouldn’t take long to make.”
Foo Fighters fourth album would be the first time new guitarist Chris Schiflett would be in the studio with the band. And He would reveal in the Back and Forth documentary. “It was bizarre, it was my first record with the band. i’d just show up to the studio everyday i was sort of confused It’s really weird I’m never really playing on this and you know i’d show up at noon everyday and i’d kind of sit here and eat food and drink coffee and then i go home. What is this? he would say.
Bassist Nade Mendel meanwhile would reveal just how tense everything was saying “I’d so something and Dave would listen to it and say like no this has gotta change and this is not working with the vocals and that’s too busy and i was disagreeing so i had a bad attitude ”
The band would spend time in several studios between October of 2001 to February of 2002. These sessions alone cost the band over a million dollars in production costs. By February of 2002 the band would submit their finished material to their manager John Silva who wasn’t very enthusiastic about what he heard. According to Mendel Silva would tell the band “well we could put this out but i don’t know if we’ll be able to sell any of them.”
At this point Time in the record’s productions songs times like these and low had not been written. The album they submitted to their manager would be known as the million dollar demos and the recordings would be scrapped by the band would take a break.The time apart would allow dave grohl to play drums on the Queens of the Stone Age’s new record Songs for the Deaf as well as tour with the band.
In the meantime Grohl would release a statement updating them on the status of the new record saying
“After four months, three studios and who knows how many foosball games, we decided to take a break from it”
Grohl’s time with Queens of the Stone Age also created some resentment amongst his bandmates who felt like they were left waiting for their leader, especially drummer Taylor Hawkins.
In April of 2002 Foo Fighters got an offer to perform at Coachella as did Queens of the Stone Age. Grohl would perform one night with Queens of the Stone Age while the other night he would play with Foo Fighters. The Foo’s would reconvene ahead of Coachella to rehearse and there was a lot of tension in the room. Grohl was disappointed that Hawkins hadn’t seen him play with Queens of the Stone Age while Taylor was still reeling from his overdose. A fight would erupt between the band mates and the pair vowed that Coachella would be their final gig together.
. But the Back and Forth documentary outlined how the gig at Coachella went really well and Hawkins felt that Grohl seemed like a new frontman. Afterwards Dave and Taylor talked about going back to Dave’s home in Virginia and re-recording the album.
Grohl would tell billboard “I had this window after queens tour and i had some ideas for songs so i invited taylor back to my house and in those 2 weeks we recorded the whole record. We did all the basic tracks in 10 days. Then we called up nate and chris and i said i think we made the record. They came back and put their parts on it and it was done.”
While the initial sessions in late 2001 and early 2002 were done with producer Adam Casper, Nick Raskulinecz) produced the sessions at Dave’s home in Virginia in the spring of 2002 & It was luck that Kaskulinecz got the gig telling Music Radar
“ I was at the studio to pick up my paycheck, and Dave rolled up, literally in his tour bus, to record a song for the Godzilla soundtrack. The engineer who was supposed to be working that day wasn’t there, so I said, ‘Hey, I’d be glad to record you, Dave.’ Which, of course, was no joke! [laughs] We got on great, had a lot of laughs, and I think he was very pleased with my work.
“Dave and I kept in touch for a couple of years after that. I had quit Sound City and was trying to make a go of it as a producer. Times were tough As luck would have it, I ran into Dave in the parking lot of this rehearsal studio called Mates. The whole thing was so random, but again, right place, right time.
“Dave was just about to start recording One By One, and he wanted to do it in the basement of his house in Virginia. I guess he was having a hard time finding a guy who would commit to sitting in his basement for four months, but to me it sounded like heaven. So he asked me if I’d be interested, and I said, ‘Whatever you need, Dave.’ Two weeks later, I’m in his basement in Virginia, putting a studio together. And we proceeded to make One By One.” he would say
Foo Fighters would release their fourth album one by one on october 22, 2002.
The first single from the album would be All My Life which came out six weeks before the record’s release with Grohl telling Kerrang the origins of the song
, “It went through a few different versions. At first it was really dissonant and noisy. The middle section sounded like ‘Wipe Out’ [by the Surfaris]. It was just nuts! We recorded the instrumental and I had no idea how I was gonna sing it. Again, that was another one that our manager said, ‘That’s the song!’ And we said, ‘Really? You think that’s the one people will like?'” The song would end up topping the alternative rock charts and peaked at number 3 on the mainstream rock charts in addition to winning a grammy in 2003.
The follow up single Times Like These would be written during those sessions at Dave’s house in Virginia. It was written about the band’s three month hiatus in early 2002. It would peak at number 5 on the billboard mainstream rock charts and give the band one of the most popular songs ofin their catalog.
The album would produce two other singles in Low and Have It All. The video for Low would be banned by MTV because it was deemed too controversial. While Have It All did little on the US charts it would be the b-side a cover of the prince tune Darling nikki that made it on the US alternative charts peaking at number 15. Prince was never a fan of other artists covering his music so during his 2007 super bowl performance he covered foo fighters song best of you.
Grohl would remark on the difference between the million dollar demos and the final album saying in the back and forth documentary “”We had already spent three months and a million dollars on something that we threw away. The difference between “All My Life” and “All My Life” was that this one cost a million dollars and sounded like crap, [while] this one we did in my basement for half an hour and became the biggest song the band ever had.””
The million dollar demos would eventually leak online and they’re up on youtube if you guys want to hear them.
The album itself would end up peaking at number 3 on the US album charts and sell over a million copies going platinum. That does it for today’s video guys thanks for watching. BE sure to hit the like button and subscribe and we’ll see you again on rock n’ roll true stories. Take care.