With the Foo Fighters up for Grammy recognition soon, I thought I'd revisit their most current documentary, The Foo Fighters - Back and Forth. The term “Foo Fighter” was originally used to describe any unidentified flying objects, and unless you were a diehard Foo Fighters fan, you might not have noticed the lineup changes that made them hard to truly identify too. Before Back and Forth, I didn’t realize how much personnel this group went through ... but the story goes deeper, and this is a pretty well done piece.
There were two standout highlights: one was Dave Grohl trying to record a guitar line and his child kept tapping him on the shoulder to tell him he promised they would go swimming. It was quite touching, and the fact that they recorded their latest album in Dave Grohl’s garage on tape instead of on computer, while having just sold out Wembley Stadium says a lot. The other was when Grohl recalled being attacked for playing music that sounded like Nirvana after Kurt Cobain’s death. To paraphrase, he asked, what he was supposed to do instead, put out a Reggae album?
Some might criticize Grohl for taking control, but if you’re a songwriter and your song is your baby, you pick and choose input cautiously. That’s a tough spot to be in if you choose to be in a band, but it isn’t unreasonable if you’re the songwriter. Still, one can’t help but feel a little sorry for their original drummer for not being able to essentially read Dave Grohl’s mind and play exactly like him.
If I have anything negative to say about Back and Forth, it’s that it’s too long. It would have been better if it was shorter, maybe with the extra footage as a DVD bonus. It really succeeds in highlighting the fact that this group has its own identity apart from being the drummer from Nirvana’s “new” band.
It’s a good flick, even for the casual Foo Fighters listener. Pat Smear (who played with the Foos, Nirvana, and punk legends The Germs) is an excellent and charming eyewitness to all of the goings on, his commentary helps this project’s appeal quite a bit. One thing I got from Back and Forth was that Nirvana’s success wasn’t just because of Cobain, as often is accepted. Dave Grohl brought dynamics and a sense of humor, and most assuredly continued that tradition with Foo Fighters to an equal level of success.