REVIEW: Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways 2 – Washington – “The Feast and the Famine”

Back in 2014, Uncle Meat asked me to sit down with him and write up Dave Grohl’s series / album Sonic Highways episode by episode, song by song.  Eight hour day at minimum.  I said OK.  I took meticulous notes.  Then we never finished it.  So I’m posting them all now, nine years late, as-is and unrefined.

FOO FIGHTERS – Sonic Highways 2 – Washington – “The Feast and the Famine”

Washington DC.  Home of the Bad Brains.  PMA: Postive Mental Attitude.  Time to record another song.

The episode begins with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  Dave grew up in nearby Virginia, a place that feels like home.  The stark poverty surrounded by the upper crust is the inspiration for “The Feast and the Famine”.  It’s an ugly reality that cannot be ignored.  There was also racial segregation.  The only white people that the kids in Bad Brains saw were their school teachers.

DC didn’t have much of a rock scene in the 70’s, but it did boast some pretty wicked funk.  “The art form that should have been popular instead or rap.”  It’s based on something called the “pocket beat” which switches up the hits to make something new: “Go Go music”.  Pharrell is on hand to offer his perspective of growing up with Go Go funk.  It’s repetitive but irresistible.

Grohl goes to Inner Ear Studios in Virginia, a studio responsible for some early classic Black Flag records with Henry Rollins.  Don Zientara was the producer who was responsible for virtually every punk record to come out of Washington.  Bad Brains bassist Daryl Jenifer says that speed was the key for their brand of punk rock.  Faster and more aggressive, says Rick Rubin. Mike D from the Beastie Boys says that Bad Brains were the best show he’d ever seen.  The original Inner Ear studio was in a house in the suburbs, a crazy juxtaposition of the punk and the normal.  The records were released on Dischord records and other indi labels.  The labels started out of necessity; they cut, folded and glued the record sleeves together themselves.  Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi) has many great stories about the scene at the time.

Virginia band Scream attracted young Dave as a highschool kid.  When they needed a new drummer, Dave gave them a call.  To his surprise, they actually hired him.  He went on to record the pretty crap album No More Censorship, but he was doing it!  When he wasn’t doing that, he was protesting apartheid in Washington.

The new Inner Ear doesn’t seem much bigger inside, but the drum sound that Taylor Hawkins gets is a killer.  It’s the studio that bassist Nate Mendel was most looking forward to, because of all the records he loved that were made there.  The band start working on a stuttery, syncopated riff.  It’s rhythmically interesting, but the melody reeks of punk rock.  It combined the punk/funk relationship in Washington DC.  It has the speed and melody of punk, but with the rhythmic chops of funk.  It’s not a basic, straightforward punk song due to the interesting stuttering rhythm.  To Meat, it sounds like Foo Fighters.

Episode 4/5 stars

Song 4/5 stars



        1. I think video podcasts have a lot to do with it.

          I have seen a lot of research out there that states video podcasts should be between 15 to 30 minutes in length.

          For me anything over 30 mins I ignore.
          I’ve noticed alot of the Spotify podcasts are moving to an edited time of 30 mins and less. Some of these podcasts went over 2 hours. And now they are editing them down to under 30..

          Liked by 1 person

        2. That’s a shame. I can’t do 30 minutes, that’s way too short. Last night we did an hour 20 and it was just enough time to fo everything we wanted to do. Hoping next week will be 2 hours.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. The series! It was good. I can’t remember if he had the whole series on a memory stick or if we streamed it on YouTube. I do remember taking a picture during the credits: “Starring Vinny Appice”. We thought that was funny and cool. That picture is on my laptop somewhere.

          Liked by 1 person

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