More about: Foo Fighters
Life may be quiet in the Foo Fighters' camp while they take a break, but not for guitarist Chris Shiflett. With Blackpool punk explosion Strange Bones invited into his yard, things got pretty damn loud.
Strange Bones are the first British band to be asked to record at the Foos' legendary 606 studio in LA, and it's not hard to see why. This week, they release the God Save The Teen EP - a fearless rush of filth and fury that pulls no punches. If they continue with this much spirit, then nothing will stop them.
But don't take our word for it, hear it from Foos' guitarist and the EP's producer Chris Shiflett, as he tells us why they're so special, why he loves production, what else he's been into these days and what the future holds for Foo Fighters after they so awesomely put down those split rumours...
How did you first come to hear of Strange Bones?
"I met them through a friend of mine, Richard Connell, who manages them. We've worked together for years over in the UK and taken in a bunch of Arsenal games - he's a nutty Arsenal fan. I guess some time last year he mentioned that he was working with them and that they were looking to record. They sounded really good so then I met them when we were over to play Milton Keynes. We had a little chat and then a few months later they showed up at our studio in the Valley and we banged out a few songs."
What was it that you heard in them that made you want to make the step to work with them?
"It's hard to put your finger on - they just sound like a good rock n' roll band. They were excited and wanted to work. I've never produced another band before, so it was cool to not have to pick up a guitar during a session."
How was it being on the other side of the desk?
"I enjoyed it man, it was fun. They were exactly what you want - a bunch of young dudes, really tight and they knew what they were doing. They'd rehearsed the shit out of those songs so it was just about capturing a good take and making a few tweaks."
What do you think you brought to their sound?
"I don't want to take credit for anything - they're the band, these are their songs and this is their sound. I just wanted to capture it."
Do you feel as if you've picked up any good or bad habits from producers you've worked with in the past?
"Definitely. One of the things I've noticed about good producers is that they keep the mood light in the studio and keep it positive. I know from my experience that it can make you really insecure and you start second-guessing yourself, then you get lost in it. That just doesn't help at all. One of my favourite producers that I've worked with is Nick Raskulinecz who worked on the first two records I did with Foo Fighters (One By One, In Your Honour). You get through a take with him and he'd go 'THAT WAS GREAT, THAT WAS SO GOOD...let's do one more!' That made you feel good."
How would you describe the spirit and feel of the EP?
"We didn't have time to second-guess anything. We spent all day, every day banging through the tunes. It's pretty raw and just sound like them. That's how they sound in a room."
How did these Blackpool punks react of being out in LA to work on the EP?
"They were totally cool. We had a good rapport and there was no weirdness. They weren't wowed by the moment, they just had a good time."
What would you say about their potential that sets them apart from other bands?
"I hear the potential for them to take over the world - we'll be opening for THEM in a couple of years, you watch. They're young and have a long road ahead of them, but they're going to evolve and who knows where that's going to go? I don't really absorb a lot of new music, which is what was nice about working with these guys because I didn't have a lot of reference points."
What kind of satisfaction do you get out of producing bands that you don't get from other pursuits?
"Your role is so different - you're the organiser. You're the one with the clipboard, you're the manager and the cheerleader - keeping the momentum moving forward. When you're in the band, you do your thing then go in the back and check your email"
What else are you working on at the moment?
"I'm working on songs for a new Dead Peasants record, but since we got off the road with Foos, I've really been working hard on this podcast thing and trying to figure it out. We've done tonnes of interviews to relaunch it and get it out there. Ultimately my focus this year is a new Dead Peasants record and do some shows with them. I'm not very good at just sitting around."
Foo Fighters are on a bit of a break at the moment, but do you find yourself writing material for them or does that kind of thing need to happen when you're all in a room together?
"Foo Fighters is Dave's band so he writes all the stuff, not me. He's always writing and I'm sure he's got stacks of new songs sitting on his iPhone right now."
What was it like being on the other side of the fence when all of split rumours and solo bullshit was circulating?
"Oh I'm used to it. Every couple of years we get those rumours. Ever since I've been in the band, there's been word that we're about to break up. After a while, you're just like 'oh, the tours over, here come the break-up rumours'. The next one has to be 'the reunion tour..."
How'd you come to the decision to respond in such an awesome 'kick in the face' kind of way as the brilliant rebuttal video you made?
"It's funny. I hadn't even heard the rumour when I got the text from Dave saying he wanted to make the video that night. These things happen so fast now, man."
Butch Vig said Dave was working on something away from Foos - is there anything you can tell us about that?
"I have no idea, he usually does. Dave's always got a bunch of things going on, whether he's making a movie or a TV show or whatever - he stays busy. He always has."
Are you guys still planning on doing doing Sonic Highways series two, or do you plan to make a more traditional album?
"I have no idea, no clue."
And beyond Strange Bones and your own stuff, what have you been listening to lately?
"There's a singer-songwriter dude from Texas called Jack Ingram who's got a new album coming out called Midnight Motel, and that's great. The Beach Slang record, that's great. I've also been listening to a lot of Merle Haggard records in the last few weeks since he passed away. The new Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson records are unbelievable too."
What would you say are the classic records you always return to?
For me, it's a lot of the stuff that I grew up listening to. You know who I go back to more than anyone else? Which is funny, because I didn't listen to them a lot back then. But I listen to the first couple of Rainbow records a lot. Thin Lizzy - I listen to them a lot too. The stuff that made me get into music was the obvious stuff like The Beatles, The Stones, Kiss, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest - those kind of things."
Is there anything cool you've been reading lately?
"I've just re-read Fever Pitch, while I was over in London to go to an Arsenal game over Spring break. It just reminded me how much I love that book. I understood it so much more this time around, I got the references so much having been to so many more games over the last 20 years. The one book that I can't recommend enough is the new NOFX book, The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories. It's basically their version of The Dirt."
God Save The Teen by Strange Bones is out now. Their upcoming tour dates are below.
23 – Preston, Ferret
25 – Coventry, Kasbah
30 – Leeds, Live At Leeds Festival
1 – Hull, Welly Club
20 – Brighton, Great Escape
10 – Donington, Download Festival
More about: Foo Fighters