With 2011’s Wasting Light becoming Foo Fighters‘ first Number One album, frontman Dave Grohl knew the band earned the capital to go into more experimental regions for their upcoming new album. “As we were coming down from the success of the last record, I thought, ‘Now we have license to get weird,’ ” Grohl told Billboard. “If we wanted, we could make some crazy, bleak Radiohead record and freak everyone out. Then I thought, ‘F- that.’ “
Instead, the album will feature “stadium anthems that startle.” Instead of just “banging out these big choruses, because that’s what we do, we’re banging them out in the middle of instrumental sections that will take you by surprise,” Grohl said.
The new album, scheduled for release later this year, will both coincide and be inspired by Grohl’s upcoming documentary series on HBO focusing on different recording studios around the country. The band recorded parts of the album with artists endemic to their respective regions, including Joe Walsh, Gary Clark Jr. and Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen. The singer saved writing lyrics to each song until the last day of recording “in order to be inspired by the experiences, interviews and personalities that became part of the process,” he said in a recent statement.
“After making Sound City, I realized that the pairing of music and documentary works well because the stories give substance and depth to the song, which makes for a stronger emotional connection,” Grohl said. “So I thought, ‘I want to do this again, but instead of just walking into a studio and telling its story, I want to travel across America and tell its story.'”
As Billboard notes, Grohl did all the booking and interviewing himself to supplement his role as host, producer, director and co-editor. “It’s basically the history of American music broken down to the cultural roots of each place,” Grohl said, describing the as-yet-untitled documentary. “Why did Chicago become a blues capital? Why did country go to Nashville? Why did the first psychedelic band, Thirteenth Floor Elevators, come from Austin? How did the second line rhythm make its way to New Orleans? It’s crazy.”