FOO FIGHTERS – Sonic Highways 5 – Los Angeles – “Outside”
L.A. Home of Pat Smear and the Germs. Pat wouldn’t live anywhere else. It’s Hotel California!
Lots of people went to L.A. to make it. Very few did. The first that did in the 1960’s had sunny, California sounds. Then came the excess and rock and roll stylings of Motley Crue. To a young Duff McKagan, straight off the bus from Seattle, it was “the wild west”. The desert itself attracted the artist types and a hippy mentality. Foo Fighters recorded The Color and the Shape there, but on a day off, Dave went into the desert to find an obscure studio called Rancho de la Luna. It was home of the “desert scene” there. Daniel Lanois helped set it up. It’s the weirdest studio you’ve ever seen, loaded with weird, creepy and quaint nicknacks. It’s tiny. How the fuck are the Foo Fighters going to fit in that room?
That little room necessitates all five players to be in close quarters. No room for pianos this time, so it has to be a bare arrangement. In the desert, there is nothing to distract the artists. Except Joe Walsh, who shows up to lay down a quintessential solo, blowing the mind of Taylor Hawkins, who just gushes. “That was so fuckin’ RAD!”
Meanwhile, guitarist Pat Smear is eager to hit his old home town. Rodney Bingenheimer was the DJ you wanted to impress back then, if you wanted to make it big. He was the first to play Pat on the radio. He was known as the “mayor of Sunset Strip”, knowing everybody and owning the coolest clubs. Iggy Pop played there. Paul Stanley would check it out to see what bands were coming up. Joan Jett and Lita Ford were regulars. They formed the Runaways in L.A., and struggled with the sexist assholes and persevered. Pat Smear ended up as one of their groupies. Pat formed the Germs with the very disturbed Darby Crash, who influenced Nirvana’s frontman (and Smear’s future bandmate) Kurt Cobain. They were also the band who convinced Duff McKagan to play music.
As a footnote, Darby Crash purposely overdosed on heroine, in order to be remembered as famous. Even this backfired when John Lennon was killed the following day, meaning nobody would ever remember the death of Darby Crash.
Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age was born in Palm Springs, “on the edge of civilization”. Mario Lalli, Scott Reeder, and other cornerstones of the stoner rock scene would take a generator out into the desert and play concerts by word of mouth. They’d take mushrooms and put on a show. According to Scott Reeder, “there was nowhere for you to play, where you could get that fucked up.” The environment was “lawless and free”, and that was the beginning of Kyuss. They were the antithesis of what was happening in metal at the time: the precision and speed. This was more about making a big, heavy detuned noise. According to Grohl, Kyuss “blew my fucking mind.” He bought extra copies of Blues for the Red Sun just to give to people.
“Outside” doesn’t sound as much like Foo Fighters as much; Grohl’s voice has a thinner sound this time. The lyrics recall the openness of the desert. “There’s a long straight road, out of the cold.” The chorus is really memorable. There are certain guitar licks that sound like they were lifted from past Foo Fighters songs such as “Everlong”. It’s really special on that Joe Walsh solo, where he makes two notes sound more important than any others in the whole song.
Episode 5/5 stars because Kyuss
Song 4/5 stars
I could imaging having Walsh show up to play on your record would be a pretty freaking cool experience!
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Thanks for sharing this very interesting piece of history.
As usual great summary.
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Thank you! I wish I had posted these long ago, but better late than never!