TURN IT UP TUESDAY: Foo Fighters – Wasting Light


(May 2, 2023)

On September 6th, 2010. Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Taylor Hawkins, and Pat Smear, gathered at Dave Grohl’s garage to begin the Foo Fighters seventh album. Wasting Light. The garage was soundproofed, and a makeshift control room was constructed. They set up a couple cameras, T.V’s, and mic’s between the control room and garage so that they could all communicate. The entire album was recorded to tape, on all analogue gear, much like last weeks album, Elephant. With the same gear from Grohl’s house in Virginia, that was used to record, There’s Nothing Left to Lose and One by One. Grohl brought another thing from his past to make this album, well actually, a person. Producer, Butch Vig, with whom he made Nirvana’s Nevermind with. 

Recording fully analogue didn’t come without its challenges. Vig, had to, after a couple decades, re-learn how to splice the tape, and really most of the procedures. Vig tried to convince Grohl to have some digital process, but he wasn’t having any of it. When one of the tapes even started shredding, on the song “Miss the Misery”. Vig tried to get Grohl to backup everything digitally right after the part was recorded but Grohl responded, “No, Butch. I don’t want any computer in this house at all. Maybe it’s a bad reel.” So they forged on.

During the making of the album, some friends of the band came by to lend a hand. One of them being Husker Du’s, Bob Mould. Who Grohl thought of when writing “Dear Rosemary”. I actually got to see Mould play live with the Foo’s about a month and a half after the release of the album, at a music festival, both were playing. Which was cool, and something I’ll probably never see happen live again. 
Grohl’s and Smear’s former Nirvana bandmate, Krist Novoselic, jumped in and played on “I should’ve Known.”
And Fee Waybill of The Tubes come in and sang backup on “Miss the Misery”.
Also on the album were regulars, Rami Jaffee, who is now a full member of the band. And Jesse Greene, on the cello. 

Speaking of full members, This was the first album back to full fledge membership status for Pat Smear, who’d been touring and recording with the band since 2005, after he’d left in ’97.

On having three guitarists, Grohl has said, “You have to be careful that it doesn’t become a huge fucking mess. But when everyone’s playing their thing really well, it sounds perfectly orchestrated.”
Smear would often use a baritone guitar, which sonically sits in between a regular guitar and a bass. Giving the track a fuller sonic range. 

Most of the songs were written about Grohl’s life, both past and present. As a reflection of what he was feeling at the time, looking back. With the exception being, “White Limo”. But more on that later.


Release & Singles

On April 12, 2011, Wasting Light was released, where it debuted at number one in twelve different countries.

As a part of the promotion of the album. Two contests were held. One being the “This Video Sucks” where fans were encouraged to make music videos for all the songs on the album. Another took inspiration from the recording process itself. Fans could win the Foo Fighters playing in their own garage.
First up, was “Rope”. The song dropped on the radio on February 23, 2011. With the video premiering from a fans house, a week later on March 1st.
While most of the songs were written during the recording process, “Rope” was written while touring Echos, Silence, Patience, and Grace.
The song debuted on the Billboard Rock chart, where it spent twenty weeks atop the list. Only being dethroned by another from the album.
On the sound, Shifflet said “What my guitar is doing over the bass makes no sense, in a way. It does, but you don’t know how.”
It takes major influence from Rush and Led Zeppelin. With Hawkins going so far as to say, “I owe Neil Peart a lot of money for the chorus of “Rope”. I’m splitting my royalties on that song with Neil Peart.”
The Dave Grohl directed video finds the band in a box. With it representing the claustrophobic garage. In the video Grohl trades in his signature guitar, for a Dave Dearnaley Flying V.

It was all shot on VHS. Just like the video to the next song…

“White Limo”. Who’s video was actually released before “Rope” was released, on February 12. But wasn’t officially a single until after, on March 28.
While all the other songs are about life’s reflections. “White Limo” was written in two minutes after bassist Nate Mendel, wrote to Grohl that not every song has to be “Imagine” or “We Are The World.” “I really like it when you write songs that are silly and mean nothing, too.”
Speaking of silly. The video is a classic Foo Fighters being silly. They even brought in Motörhead’s Lemmy, to be their limo driver in the video. The videos style was inspired by old punk videos, like Black Flag.
About a year after debuting, “White Limo” picked up the Grammy for Best Hardrock/Metal Performance.

Next up was “Walk”. The first single to debut, after the album was released, on June 6th. This was the song that knocked “Rope” from the top spot on the Billboard Rock chart.
This too was a song written during Echos, Silence, Patience, and Grace.
The video is a parody of 1993’s Falling Down. I probably will lose a bit of movie buff cred admitting this, but I didn’t know that the video was a parody of anything, so when I went to watch Falling Down a couple years ago, I was like “hey, this is the video for Walk”. Which is kinda funny watching the movie after the video. But I do recommend you check the movie out, it’s good.
Grohl wrote the song about the day after Kurt Cobain died. And how he, Grohl, wanted to live. On Grohl’s affinity for life and this song, Pat Smear has said about Grohl singing the line “I never want to die”, “I look at him ever time and think of Kurt. Every single time. Because Kurt was, ‘I hate myself and I want to die.’ And that’s the opposite-ness of them. And I do so love being with life lovers.”
The song also has the distinction of being the song that Grohl played on his tenth performance on SNL. Which marked the most ever.

The third official single was a UK only release, the song being “Arlandria”. The dropped September 18th. Two music videos were released. A live version from the 2011 iTunes festival. And another that was released in 2019, featuring a man walking the city while being chased down by a cooky group of characters.

“These Days” was up next, on November 1st. The song was named the fourth best single of the year by Rollingstone.  With Grohl calling it his favourite song he’s ever written. Saying in a 2015 interview, “Every night I sing it, I still get choked up.” The video was shot during the bands tour of Australia and New Zealand.

The final single came out as a radio single on June 5, 2012.
Getting an official video in 2019.

If you think you know all the songs from the album, you might not. There was a bonus song called “Better Off” as an exclusive Japanese release. You can find the song on the Foo Fighters YouTube.

In all this weeks album may not have been their biggest seller, but could be considered their most successful in terms of hardware. Ending with five Grammy’s of their six nominations, only being beaten by Adele, and 21, for album of the year.

And if you were lucky enough, you got a piece of tape from the  master recording, tucked into your CD. This CD is actually the last physical one I bought. A little bonus fun fact about me.

So grab it off your shelf, or open your favourite music app, and turn up this weeks album. The Foo Fighters, Wasting Light.



Hey, Jade here. Thanks for visiting Backline Beat. If you like the site and would like to help support it, I’d be very grateful. Every little bit helps. Right now I’m an army of one, and would like at some point to be able to bring on other voices, to be a part of Backline Beat. Below, are links to Patreon, PayPal, and Linktree.

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