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Foo Fighters Explore Their Softer Side

Of the Oakland Press

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It’s time for a little more Foo and a little less fight.

Foo Fighters, the band founded 12 years ago by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, has staked its reputation with a big, electric rock sound that’s scored fi ve platinum albums and four Grammy Awards. But the group has more recently been showing its softer side — fi rst on the acoustic half of the two-disc 2005 album “In Your Honour” and this year with a series of acoustic shows including a stint opening for Bob Dylan.

“I think it’s great,” says drummer Taylor Hawkins, who’s been with the band since 1997. “It lets Dave’s songs breathe. It lets people see what an actually great songwriter Dave is — not just loud, blistering guitars and stuff — even though I think people have always known he’s a really great songwriter.

“You just get a different side, if you know what I mean.”

Hawkins, 34, says that while the acoustic Foo Fighters may be a surprise to some fans, the group members “always thought we’d do something like that. Dave’s always wanted to do it. So it didn’t surprise me at all. I think it surprised other people more than it did us.”

Plus, he adds, “There’s always been a lot of acousticbased songs. Everybody’s heard Dave do ‘Everlong’ acoustic and stuff. I really think you could play any of the songs acoustically.”

Foo Fighters’ acoustic setup is a considerably different affair than when the band plugs in. Besides the core band — Grohl, Hawkins, bassist Nate Mendel and guitarist Chris Shiflett — it also includes four additional musicians whom the drummer refers to as “a mini-rock orchestra.” Former Foo Fighters guitarist Pat Smear is part of that, as is Wallfl owers keyboardist Rami Jaffee and violinist Petra Haden, who’s worked with Beck.

Percussionist Drew Hester, meanwhile, produced the debut album by Hawkins’ side band, the Coattail Riders.

On Tuesday, Foo Fighters will release “Skin and Bones,” a live album recorded at three August acoustic shows in Los Angeles. Besides the “In Your Honour” material, the album includes unplugged takes on Foo favorites such as “Everlong,” “Big Me,” “My Hero” and “Best of Me,” plus “Marigold,” the rarely performed Nirvana song written by Grohl. A DVD from the same shows is expected to be released in late November.

Hawkins, meanwhile, thinks it won’t be too long before the Foos return to the studio for a new album, though he’s mum on what direction the band will pursue.

“It all depends on what (Grohl’s) motivated to do at that time,” Hawkins explains. “Nothing concrete has been laid out whatsoever, but I already know he’s conceptualizing the next record, and he’s told me what his ideas for the next record will be like — which, of course, I can’t tell you.”

Foo Fighters open for Bob Dylan at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (November 2nd) at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $69.50, $47.50 and $29.50. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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