Dave Grohl teased Foo Fighters fans late last month, telling BBC Radio 1 that the “biggest pop star in the world” features on the group’s upcoming Concrete and Gold. “[He or she] sings backup on one of the heaviest songs on the record,” he said. “And we’re not telling anybody who it is.”
Grohl declined to reveal the megastar’s name when speaking with Rolling Stone, but the musician provided a few more hints, walking back the “pop star” comment he made originally. “This person is, I think, is more than that,” he says.
“It was sort of towards the end of the album and this person came up and said, ‘Man, I’d really love to sing on your record,'” Grohl says. “I looked at [producer] Greg [Kurstin] and said, ‘OK, come in tomorrow and we’ll figure something out.’ So we found a backup part for this person to sing and we decided we were gonna make it our own dirty little secret and see if anyone can figure it out.
“I’d be amazed if anyone can really figure it out,” he says. “But it was great and this person’s been around a long time. And I think I’ve met this person maybe a few times, but I’d never spent time with this person, and we had a blast together. Really fucking fun. And [he or she is] very talented – more so than I ever knew. But, of course, I fucking ran my mouth off; now I have to answer to it every time I pick up the telephone and I’m like, ‘Fuck! I shouldn’t have said anything.'”
His final hint was that the person was someone he’d talked to about doing the next season of his star-studded, multiple-location TV series Sonic Highways with.
Popular on Rolling Stone
“We decided we were gonna make it our own dirty little secret and see if anyone can figure it out.”
“Everyone thinks Adele sang on the record,” he says. “She didn’t sing on the record. I fucking love her, she’s an amazing person – I love her personally, and I of course also love her music – but I think everyone made this correlation because Greg had produced her. I’m like, ‘Fuck, I wish it was Adele. Goddamn, that’d be amazing.'”
He also shot down Taylor Swift as a potential guest. “Ooooh, that’d be a good one,” he says. “Wasn’t T-Swift. She’s pretty rad, but… That’s the thing. Maybe everyone should just start submitting their wish list and then the next album will be ‘We Are the World.’ We could do this.”
As previously reported, Grohl did reveal some of the guests who appear on Concrete and Gold: the Bird and the Bee’s Inara George, who sings on “Dirty Water” (“Her voice is just so crystal-clear beautiful, man,” he say, “legendary smooth-jazz saxophonist”). Grohl’s “close, personal friend” Dave Koz (who plays on “La Dee Da”) and the Kills’ Alison Mosshart, who also sang on “La Dee Da” as well as “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” also make appearances.
One of the turning points was asking Boyz II Men singer Shawn Stockman, whom Grohl had spotted in the parking lot, to create a choir for the song “Concrete and Gold.” “When he left the room, I turned to everybody and I said, ‘You guys, the Boyz II Men dude just raised the fucking bar. Every song has to sound this big,'” Grohl says. “We were just like, ‘Holy shit.'”
Grohl said that the band also had fun meeting some of the other artists recording at EastWest Studios, though he did not confirm whether they made appearances on Concrete and Gold. “It felt like a community of musicians,” he says. ” There’s five rooms in there, so on any given day, you see Lady Gaga walking down the hall, or there’s Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple is in there today. Hey, Justin Timberlake’s in the kitchen. Or fucking Rufus Wainwright’s there one day. One day, I get a text like, ‘Shania Twain’s in the big room. She wants to say hello.’ It’s like Jesus fucking Christ; it’s like Hollywood Squares.”
How Dave Grohl’s divorce, interband tension and a “Sonic Youth rip-off” played into group’s hit 1997 LP, “The Colour and the Shape.” Watch here.