by Cai Trefor Contributor | Photos by Brantley Gutierrez

Tags: Foo Fighters 

11 Things we learned meeting Foo Fighters' Chris Shiflett

'We're going to be using back up singers'. It's a live first for their humongous show at The 02 tonight

 

Foo Fighters interview Chris Shiflett interview Photo: Brantley Gutierrez

A few days on from the release of their huge new album Concrete and Gold, Foo Fighters will storm London tonight with Bristol feral rockers Idles in tow.

This is going to be an intense, brilliant affair as they play hits from across their nine albums - and if their Glastonbury set is anything to go by there'll be some covers and golden banter in between songs from Grohl.

Ahead of this exciting show, we went down to a dapper hotel in the heart of Soho where the Foos were staying and caught up Chris Shiflett, the lead guitarist, to hear about what to expect from the show as well as chat about his solo project, recording an entire album that never got used, his new gear set up, and more

Shiflett's stage presence and skill on the guitar are such an integral part of the power of their show. He joined the Foos to tour There Is Nothing Left to Lose and recorded on all their subsequent albums. Grohl was attracted to his experience on the underground punk scene in California and the fact he had supported Grohl's former band Scream as a bassist in The Rat Pack.

Now at the top of the rock world with a huge album helped come into fruition by a pop producer (Greg Kurstin), he's a long way from that underground scene but still seems to be keeping it real. Here's what we learned whilst talking to him for a few minutes:

Foo Fighters have backing vocalists at The 02 tonight

"We are going to have some back up singers and we've never done that before. We had these backup singers come and sing on this Live Lounge thing we did a couple of weeks ago... [It's required because] there's a ton of vocal layering on the new record. It's probably the biggest difference between this record and other Foo Fighters record... so those gals are going to have a trip over.

Shiflett's new amp rig will make gear nerds drool

"On this new record. I played mostly through a Vox AC15. Live, I've got an AC 30 going through two 4x12's then I have a Freedman going through two 4x12's. Then I a-b between them." Double dutch? Essentially, he's got the best sounding rock guitar set up you can get and it's going to blow people away.

Paul McCartney hung around for an imporvised jam

"That was pretty exciting just being in a room with that dude, amazingly inspirational. We recorded that song ['Dirty Water'] with him, then he was like, 'alright, lets jam' so we did, and at one point I think Taylor and Dave were playing drums, then Paul moved over to the piano, we're just kinda noodling around on stuff [...] To see a guy who has done literally everything you can possibly do with the art form that we exist in, and he still just wants to make some noise with a bunch of guys in a room, you know, that we all knew was probably never going to get used for anything, you know what I mean? Just for the fun of the moment!" 

Shiflett had to get his phone out to sing on Carpool Karaoke

It's funny I never got too deep into the lyrics [..] With our band I think about the parts [...] It' s always like that with something you work on. You don't hear it as a whole. We did a thing the other week when we were home doing Carpool Karaoke and you're in a car and you have to sing along to your own songs and I realised, 'fuck I don't know any of the lyrics, man'.I was faking my way through it, then I one point I got my phone out and dialled up the lyrics on my phone,and I was sort of holding it there hoping they can't see and I got the cut for it yesterday, and I can totally see me reading the lyrics!"

Producer Greg Kurstin loves chasing weird guitar sounds

"The thing I loved about Greg from a guitar player's point of view is if you came and said for example, ' I think this should have a Flanger on it'. He'd pull out his crazy vintage Flanger thing that you've never seen before, and he's dialing it up whilst you're laying down a guitar track and he's changing it. He's got a Memory Man [analog delay pedal] going and he's fucking with that and he's going 'raaawrgh'. He was into chasing those crazy tones down. And if something was loose and weird. He was like, 'Great'. That's what it should be.

Grohl was fired up to work with Greg Kurstin

"I learned long ago in Foo Fighters when Dave's fired up to do something it just makes it fun. That's the space you hope Dave's at for going in to make a record."

Foo Fighters made an entire album they never put out

"The first record we ever did with me in the band we shelved. It was weird I could sense that something.... I'd never made a record with Foo Fighters before...and I had only been in the band a year and half or two years when we went into make that record. I could just feel that something was weird,and I couldn't put my finger on it but I was new in the band, I wasn't going to be like 'what the fuck's going on?' But we made this whole record and then we didn't put it out. Then Dave went on tour with QOTSA and did some other stuff and sort of found his enthusiasm again and came back we banged it out and re-recorded some of that stuff and added some new stuff and then made the record that became One By One."

The Foos feared the end just as they were beginning

Asked if the record not going out made him feel he was at fault in anyway, he replied: "I don't know if I thought it was me...  but I didn't think, 'I haven't even made a record with these dudes and we're breaking up, what the fuck man!?' In that same phone call that said 'we're not going to put the record out, and, by the way, Dave's going on tour with QOTSA' at the time he just played drums on the record, it was that record Songs For The Deaf.... So yeah sure I was like, 'fuck this is fucking ending...' bummer... Yeah, I think everybody freaked out alittle bit bit.

"We had one gig booked at that point which was Coachella [...] a few months went by and we got together the week before to rehearse as we hadn't played in a little while and we had a huge argument which is to date the biggest band argument that's ever happened, which by the way I wasn't really apart of I was just sitting there watching going, 'what the fuck?' and then everything was good."

Johnny Thunders and Billy Bragg inspired Chris Shiflett's solo show

Shiflett came to London earlier this year to perform a sold out gig at The Water Rats, which was outstanding. It was in support of his country album, West Coast Town. He held the room in the palm of his hand with confidence that Grohl would have been proud to see.

Asked about who inspired him as a live solo artist, he says. "One of my favourite Johnny Thunders records of all time was this record called Hurt Me. It's just him and an acoustic guitar. I was borderline obsessed with that record when I was a teenager. That might have been one of the first things that pointed me in that way. But of course when it comes to a man and his guitar Billy Bragg is the great beacon of light for that!"

Trump left a dark imprint on the lyrics on the new album

"My take on it is that he was writing a lot of the songs in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election. It was very chaotic, it's still very chaotic I think just being a citizen of the world you can't help be affected by that in some way. I think maybe something that's left an imprint on his lyrics this time around is that sense of chaos and tension, what's happening in the world."

The band are back earlier than anticipated

Was he surprised another world tour and album release has started so soon after Sonic Highways? "I think everyone was surprised.. At the end of the last album cycle Dave was like 'I want to take two years off.  But it was the end of last summer that those texts and emails were coming in: 'I got some new riffs, here's some new song ideas and that's when he starts to get fired up'.,

And thank you Dave for getting back on the road early. It's good to have them around. Check on Gigwise for exclusive photos from tonight's show soon


Cai Trefor

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