When Foo Fighters take the stage at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, tomorrow night to kick off their latest trek across North America, they will be embracing their inner stadium rockers to the max. "We're proud to be an arena rock band,"says drummer and group cheerleader Taylor Hawkins. "We enjoy doing the bigass shows — making big noise with big toys."
They'll take that big approach on their first domestic tour since the release of the critially and commercially successful new album Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace last fall. Hawkins knows exactly why Foo Fighters, one of the few post-grunge bands still standing, remain relevant and will stand tall in the annals of rock history. "It's all about Dave and how great a frontman he is," Hawkins explains. "When we played Live Earth last year, Dave turned that stadium into a fucking club. All the great frontmen were like that. That's what Freddie Mercury did every night."
Hawkins says the set list will focus on their latest record but the band won't shy away from their biggest hits. "We pander to our audience, there's no question. We're not going to pull a Radiohead and not play our biggest songs. Luckily, I likeplaying 'Everlong' and 'Monkey Wrench.' "
The Foos aren't going it alone. In fact, the tour has mutated into a post-modern "Monsters of Rock" tour, featuring some of the biggest bands in the country. Jimmy Eat World, Against Me!, Serj Tankian and about-to-break-huge Hi-Fi Hand Grenades will all join the Foos at various points on the run. "We played together at a radio festival in the fall," says Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel. "My bandmates were hanging out in the Foos' dressing room saying, '˜Come on, take us on tour!' We didn't think it would actually happen, but here we are."On the prospect of playing arenas for the first time, Gabel says not to expect any bells and whistles. "We don't have enough money or know-how to add pyro or anything, so we're just going to have to play really loud."
It'll be a mutual admiration society backstage, as Gabel is a big fan of tourmates Jimmy Eat World, "especially the last record." Coming off their own tour for last year's Chase the Light, the guys from JEW relish the idea of getting in front of crowds. "The way the business is now, looking at charts isn't the best way to gauge how you're doing as a band," says frontman Jim Adkins. "People keep showing up and singing along to the songs, so we must be doing something right."
Adkins, who is married and has a young son, won't be taking the family on the road the way the Foo Fighters do, as each band member is a (relatively) new father. "Those guys roll deep,"jokes Adkins.