The Foo Fighters could have gone the traditional route when they decided to make another album.
“We could just go and make another record in the studio and hit the road and sell a bunch of T-shirts, turn on KROQ and hear another Foo Fighters song,” Dave Grohl says. “But where’s the fun in that, you know?”
Instead, the band’s new record involved recording in eight different cities, with each of those tracks inspired by the musical traditions of that city. Grohl also documents the process in “Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways,” an eight-part series debuting on HBO in October.
The idea for the show has its roots in “Foo Fighters: Back and Forth,” a documentary about the making of the band’s 2011 album “Wasting Light.”
“It gave the band this whole new reach or audience, where people started to understand us as people,” Grohl says at the TV critics’ summer press tour. “In that I started to realize the power of music and documentary together. “A lot of times music can seem one-dimensional. You hear it in your car, you hear it in an elevator, it might have a catchy melody. But if you get a little bit deeper into the artist or the song, it creates this emotional connection.”
“Sonic Highways” also lets Grohl act on his love for the history of rock ‘n’ roll by taking him and the Foo Fighters to studios in New York, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Chicago, Austin, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Seattle that he calls “hallowed ground.”
“They’re churches, they’re monuments to me. … History has been made in these s***holes all over the country,” he says.
Each episode will conclude with the band performing the track they wrote in that city, with lyrics inspired by the place.
“On the very last day of the session, I take my transcripts of all the interviews, and I get a bottle of wine and sit in my hotel room, and I read through the transcripts and take words and ideas and thoughts and I put them on [one] side of the page and on [the other] side of the page I have the outline of the song,” Grohl says. “I write the song from the episode. So the finale of each episode is a performance of the song, where you realize all these lyrical references are from the show you just watched.”
“Sonic Highways” premieres on HBO in October. The Foo Fighters’ new album is due for release in November.