The band’s frontman recorded an initial tape version of the album almost entirely by himself “for fun” before record labels expressed interest in releasing it.
Speaking to Matt Wilkinson on Apple Music’s Beats 1, Grohl recalled the process of making the album. “I actually recorded the whole thing in sequence,” he said. “I was really, really excited to do this. I mean, it was almost like a school project. I was preparing, I had charts.”
He continued to reveal his favourite song from the album during those sessions, saying it was ‘Exhausted’.
“I really loved the song ‘Exhausted’,” he explained. “That one came later than a lot of the other ones. The guitar sound, which is so crazy and blown out, it was done with this amp that Barrett [Jones, co-producer] had bought in London that was a petrol can. It was this red plastic petrol can – the kind that you would use if your car ran out of gas – with this little speaker.
“It was maybe an eight-inch speaker in it and there’s battery power. You put batteries in it. And if the batteries were just dead enough, the thing just sounded like this apocalyptic distortion that was so cool, and that’s the sound on the song and the record.”
Grohl initially only made 100 cassette copies of the album and said he would give them out to friends when he ran into them. “There was a guy who lived in town that had a radio show, but he also, I think, worked for a record label,” he said. “And he called and left a message on my answering machine and he said, ‘Hey, I played this for the record company and I think they want to put it out.’”
“And I thought, ‘Well shit, it’s just a demo,’” Grohl said. “But that’s when the alarms went off where I’m like, ‘Oh man, maybe it should be a record. Maybe I should release it.’ So I sent one to my manager, John. I’m like, ‘Yeah, a record company wants to put out this tape I made.’ He goes, ‘Send it to me.’ So I sent it to him and he goes, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, I mean it could be fun to make a record.’”
Elsewhere, Grohl revealed who he would dedicate Foo Fighters’ debut album to if he were re-writing its liner notes today. “It should be a lot of people, but I would dedicate it to Krist [Novoselic, Nirvana bassist] and Kurt [Cobain],” he said. “I have children [so] I can’t say it’s the most important event in my entire life, but it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t be here right now talking about this if it weren’t for my time in Nirvana.
“I learned so many lessons from Kurt, I learned so many lessons from Krist. It was such an honour to be in that band and it was so devastating when it ended. But we have that catalogue of music that we made together and that experience changed not only us, but a lot of the world that we lived in. So I think that that was probably my life’s most formative period.”
Meanwhile, Grohl has also reflected on how writing some of Foo Fighters’ earliest songs – like their debut single ‘This Is A Call’ – acted as an “exorcism” of the grief he felt when Cobain died.