Foo Fighters finally unveiled their new album Medicine At Midnight so we sat down with Chris Shiflett and Nate Mendel to chat all about it.
After COVID-19 forced Foo Fighters to delay their new album indefinitely, the band are gearing up (again) for its new release date by re-announcing it on SNL alongside with the first performance of its first single ‘Shame Shame‘.
So everyone around the world probably knows that the upcoming album from the Foo Fighters is called Medicine At Midnight after their big SNL appearance, but the album title unintentionally became a hilarious point of confusion when I chatted to Chris Shiflett about it prior to the record’s reveal.
“Yeah so it’s called Medicine After Midnight…wait is it Medicine At Midnight or Medicine After Midnight? Fact check that shit for me will ya,” laughs Chris after I asked him what the album was called.
The band took a wide range of different approaches when recording their last few albums – Wasting Light was recorded in Dave’s garage while Sonic Highways was recorded all across America – and it sounds like the Foos did the same thing this time around for Medicine At Midnight.
“It was a little bit like Wasting Light in that Dave had rented this house down the street from where he lived because he wanted to try and build a little demo studio so he could record some demos to get ready for this record,” says Chris. “Then he just liked how the room sounded, he liked how the drums sounded and we wound up bringing in a bunch of gear there and just doing the whole album there.”
“It wasn’t like a traditional studio, it was just like in a house! It’s like you’re literally sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee then Taylor [Hawkins] goes do a drum track in the living room so you have to sit outside for a while and it was basically like that every day.”
‘Shame Shame‘ is perhaps unlike another Foo Fighters song we’ve ever heard (in a good way) and it’s apparently just a taster on what to expect from Medicine At Midnight as Chris suggested that it was representative of the new direction the band arrived at this time around.
“Yeah I think so! Those were the songs that kind of stuck out of the batch of songs we were working on,” says Chris. “Most of them had a dance-y, up time, kind of Saturday night feel to them.”
Check out Foo Fighters performing ‘Shame Shame’ off Medicine At Midnight:
For Nate, he says the Foo Fighters tried to really challenge themselves to do something different this time around.
“We talked a few times about trying to make an album really different, like radically different, you know since you’re always tinkering around the edges,” recalls the bassist. “But then you get in there and the band is the band and it sounds like the band! So this time, it was like ‘what can we really do actually that’s actually challenging?’
“So we worked with Greg [Kurstin] again and he’s got a deep enough knowledge of music that he can kind of go anywhere you want and to guarantee that every song is not going to have, you know, three guitars on it or maybe a bass or acoustic drums.
“It was the ability to go ‘you know what, maybe just don’t play on this song’, not everybody needs to do that. Let’s just play what the song needs and go from there because if you come in like that, there’s a guarantee that the song will be instrumentalised, for the lack of a better word, as Foo Fighters songs usually are it’ll sound like a Foo Fighters song.”
It wasn’t just the sound that’s different time around either. Nate once told Dave “I really like it when you write songs that are silly and mean nothing, too. You don’t have to try to write ‘Imagine’ every time you sit down with a pen and paper.”
With that in mind, I asked Nate whether the band approached Medicine At Midnight from a “silly and mean nothing” angle or more of an ‘Imagine’ angle and it seems like it’s more the latter for this album.
“[Laughs] That’s a great question! I think that’s one of the reasons why Dave is a great lyricist, it’s because he’s able to mix the two,” says Nate. “‘Shame Shame’ for example, that’s a pretty serious song, the topic is heavy so you can’t really mix in any sense of humour or wordplay in there, but that’s something [Dave] does pretty well just throughout the songs while dealing with heavier themes.”
“I will say that the song that came out of Wasting Light that was just fucking totally silly was ‘White Limo’. It’s something that means absolutely fucking nothing. There’s not really a ‘White Limo’ on this record.”
Stay tuned for more Foo Fighters coverage on Tone Deaf and Rolling Stone Australia because we got a lot more from Chris and Nate about dealing with COVID and lockdown and looking back on the Foo Fighters’ long career coming very soon.