Grohl is determined not to make the same mistake twice. For In Your Honor, the double album due out in June, the Foos -- Grohl, drummer Taylor Hawkins, bassist Nate Mendel and guitarist Chris Shiflett -- worked to broaden the spectrum of their music. One disc consists of acoustic songs performed live by the band, with guest appearances from Norah Jones and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones. The other disc features ten of the most intense Foo tracks ever written, including the first single, "Best of You."
"In the beginning, this album was such a stupid idea," Grohl says. "It was 'Let's buy an 8,000-square-foot warehouse, build the nicest studio in L.A. and make a double album in six months.'" Sitting in the new studio's control room, Grohl takes a drag off his Parliament and smiles. "But we did it."
The acoustic disc (which is in the DualDisc format, with a 5.1 audio mix on the DVD side) opens with the song "Still." "I couldn't believe that our band is capable of making something so beautiful," Grohl says. The track features an acoustic guitar drowned in reverb, strings, organ and a resonator drum that sounds like a bomb exploding. It's one of the most personal songs Grohl has ever written, about a kid in Virginia who committed suicide on train tracks. "After the ambulances split, we found pieces of his skull and we played with his bones," says Grohl, who was ten at the time. "The acoustic album runs deep."
Norah Jones, whose name was on Grohl's wish list of guest musicians, lays down piano and vocals on the bossa-nova-tinged "Virginia Moon." "She was playing dog-ear stuff, where you cock your head in disbelief," says Grohl. "It was perfect on the first take." John Paul Jones, who plays piano on "Miracle" and Mellotron on "Oh Yeah," sent the band into ecstasy. "If I say it's the greatest thing that happened to me in my life," says Grohl, "my wife will get mad, so it's the second greatest." Says the Zeppelin bassist, "I'm a big fan of the Foos, and it just so happened that I'd be in L.A. for the Grammys. We got on like a house on fire."
The album's title, In Your Honor, came after Grohl spent time on the campaign trail with John Kerry. "We'd pull in to small towns, and thousand of people would come to be rescued by this man," says Grohl. "It's not a political record, but what I saw inspired me." The title track kicks off the electric disc (which features making-of footage on the flip side). "I wanted to have songs that make people beat the shit out of each other the first time they hear them," Grohl says.
The Foos plan to tour the U.S. later this year, playing two gigs in each town: an arena-rock extravaganza and an acoustic set at a more intimate venue. "We're so fucking lucky," says Grohl. "When we play the Bridge School Benefit, we don't have to wonder who's on Neil Young's crew -- it's the dudes in the overalls with gray ponytails down to their asses. That's what I want: to make a life out of this band."