Foo Fighters’ ‘Concrete and Gold’ 101: Everything You Need to Know About Their New Album
It's their first full-length since 2014's Sonic Highways, although they offered a five-song EP, Saint Cecilia, as a free download in November 2015. So far, they've only officially put out one track in advance of Concrete and Gold, "Run," but they've premiered three others on their European tour, and Dave Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins debuted a fourth, "The Sky Is a Neighborhood" at a benefit concert in May. See below for video and other facts about the record.
Concrete and Gold features 11 tracks and will be available on Sept. 15 on CD, vinyl and digital (.mp3 and hi-res .wav).
'Concrete and Gold' Track Listing
3. “Make It Right”
4. “The Sky Is a Neighborhood”
5. “La Dee Da”
6. “Dirty Water”
8. “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)”
9. “Sunday Rain”
10. “The Line”
11. “Concrete and Gold”
In addition to the basic formats, the Foo Fighters have three Concrete and Gold merchandise bundles for sale at their webstore. The first includes a t-shirt and collectible coin set; the second adds a leather embossed journal, temporary tattoos and socks; and the third adds a personalized flight bag, nesting dolls, and a leather embossed passport holder.
Grohl revealed that he conceived most of the album ideas on what was supposed to be a year-long hiatus. But six months in —“I barbecued for months, man. I was doing eight briskets a week. It got a little dark” — he picked up the guitar again and got back to work. “I just felt like I was creatively atrophied and had to start to exercise in order to wake the muscle up. After maybe 12 or 13 ideas, I send them to the guys and ask, ‘Am I crazy? Or is this a record?’ They said, ‘Both.’”
Dave Grohl chose Greg Kurstin to produce Concrete and Gold precisely because of the differences in their backgrounds. Kurstin, who has made hit records with Adele, Sia and Pink, had never produced a big rock record before, while the Foos had never worked with a pop producer. Grohl liked the idea of combining “our noise and Greg’s big brain and all of his sophisticated arrangements and composition." Interestingly enough, Grohl's friend and Them Crooked Vultures bandmate Josh Homme recently announced a similarly unlikely collaboration, as his group Queens of the Stone Age hired Bruno Mars and Adele producer Mark Ronson to helm their upcoming album Villains.
Grohl has described the new album as the biggest-sounding one the band has made to date. Specifically, he imagined it's what Motorhead's version of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band would sound like.
Grohl admitted that there's a theme to the album, involving "hope and desperation" and that "some of it is a little political." The title track ends the record on a note of optimism. Grohl sings, "I have an engine made of gold, something so beautiful / The world will never know / Our roots are stronger than you know / Up through the concrete we will grow."
Concrete and Gold will feature a number of guests, including background vocals on one track by someone Grohl called "probably the biggest pop star in the world." Many believed the mysterious singer was Adele, because of her recent work with Kurstin. But Grohl subsequently revealed it was neither her nor Taylor Swift. We offered our own theories here.
Other guest stars, however, include Paul McCartney, Alison Mosshart of the Kills, Inara George of the Bird and the Bee and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, who contributed background vocals on the title song. “It sounds like [Black] Sabbath and Pink Floyd,” Grohl told the BBC. “It’s heavy. It’s the last song on the record. He built a choir – it’s like 40 vocals stacked. It’s insane.”
Although they've officially been a quintet since Grohl first assembled the band, they recently made former Wallflowers keyboardist Rami Jaffee, who has been performing and recording with the band since 2005’s In Your Honor, a full-fledged member.
In May, members of the band debuted the first of several songs that we've now heard from the record. Along with Jaffe and drummer Taylor Hawkins, Grohl performed "The Sky Is a Neighborhood" at the Acoustic-4-A-Cure concert in San Francisco, a benefit for the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital thrown by Sammy Hagar and James Hetfield.
Last month, "Run" marked the first official release from the album, and was accompanied by a Grohl-directed video in which the band is made up to look like older versions of themselves performing for the residents of senior citizen home. But when one resident who quietly skipped his medication climbs up for a stage-dive, a riot breaks out.
On "Sunday Rain," a song the band premiered at a show in Latvia weeks ago, Hawkins takes over the lead vocals. His only other previous lead vocal on a record was on "Cold Day in the Sun" from In Your Honor, although he's frequently taken the spotlight in concert by singing cover songs.
In Paris, the band debuted their fifth song from album, "Dirty Water," which they played along with the new "Run." Let's be clear: It is not a cover of the Standells' 1966 garage-rock classic.
During a show at the Acropolis in Greece, they unveiled "Arrows," after playing four of their other recent debuts, "The Sky is a Neighborhood," "La Dee Da," "Sunday Rain" and "Dirty Water." The performance was captured for PBS’ Landmarks Live in Concert and will air beginning Nov. 10.
The Foo Fighters will launch a U.S. tour following the release of Concrete and Gold. The tour kicks off in San Bernadino, Calif. on Oct. 7. You can get all the dates and details at their official site.