Dave Grohl Says Writing Lyrics for “Sonic Highways” Was “Complicated”

Image Courtesy of ABC/Travis BellAs you may have heard, the new Foo Fighters album, Sonic Highways, was not recorded in a traditional way. The band traveled from city to city to record at different studio across America. During each stop, Foo frontman Dave Grohl would interview musicians and artists who helped create and further the music scene in each of their respective cities. All of this was, and continues to be, documented in the band's HBO series, Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways.

While the recording method of the Sonic Highways album didn't significantly impact the way Foo Fighters wrote the music, it did change the way Grohl wrote the lyrics. He would not write the words to each song until he conducted his interviews. Grohl would then use the quotes from the interviews in the lyrics of the song.

As he said at a recent Los Angeles panel, it was writing the lyrics that became the most difficult part for Grohl in recording the album, especially since the album track list was going to be in sequence with the order of the series' episodes.

"Each episode has a theme, which becomes the theme of the song. It's a complicated process because not only are we sequencing a series, but we are sequencing an album," he said. "The album is in sequence of the series. And we've got all these instrumentals, but we don't have lyrics. We have these themes, so there's a beginning and an end."

During the series, Grohl interviewed everyone from Fugazi's Ian MacKaye to President Barack Obama, but one interview that really inspired him in his writing method for the album was with Nora Guthrie.

"One of my favorite interviews was Nora Guthrie, Woody Guthrie's daughter. We talked about her father, and how her father approached songwriting," he said. "Her dad wasn't really a recording artist, he was a songwriter. Sometimes he was commissioned to write songs about specific things. So in a way he was reporting."

Grohl used that mindset when he wrote his lyrics based on his interviews.

"To be able to talk to all of these people, it was literally just reporting what I had seen," he said.

While the process was difficult, Grohl said he was excited each and every time to turn an interview into song lyrics. But would he ever write an album that way again?

"It was so fun," he says. "I will never, ever do it again, it was a pain in the ass."

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