Today I write to announce the launch of a new podcast hosted by Kendra Larsen and myself. The podcast is called Foo’s Errand, and it’s about the music and career of the popular rock band the Foo Fighters.
We decided to create a podcast about the Foo Fighters first and foremost because during the band’s 25-year career they have written some absolute bangers. But more than that, the Foo Fighters feel singularly positioned in ways that are mysterious and unique even though the band itself is neither mysterious nor unique.
Virtually everyone I know who likes rock music has heard of the Foo Fighters and knows some songs by them. But I can’t think of a single person whose favorite band is the Foo Fighters or who had a Foo Fighters phase growing up, when the band’s music and image was not simply an interest but a personality trait.
This disconnect between the band’s widespread admiration and the invisibility of a dedicated fandom was highlighted when I responded to a Twitter prompt by cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib. Abdurraqib asked followers to name a band whose best song is also their most popular song, and I responded with the Foo Fighters based on the assumption that “Everlong” is their most popular and best song, which several friends took issue with. It surprised me that anyone in my life cared about the Foo Fighters enough to chime in about what song is their best or most popular almost as much as it surprised me that anybody could think “Everlong” is not the band’s best song. My takeaway was that I and others care about Foo Fighters more than I (we?) thought, and that the band apparently has a lot of hits that are, like, HITS.
But what’s in between the hits? Are there great Foo Fighters album cuts? Is there a vocal group of people ready to debate you about underrated Foo Fighters tracks? You can do shorthand and reductive stereotypes for fans of a lot of modern rock bands of the late 1990s or 2000s (My Chemical Romance and gothy theater kids; Nickelback and frat-guy meatheads etc.), but what is a Foo Fighters fan? Surely they exist because the band has remained huge, consistently touring arenas rather than the concert halls or clubs that many of their contemporaries have moved to as their popularity has dwindled.
Perhaps the Foo Fighters’ ability to sustain popularity comes from frontman Dave Grohl’s DC punk upbringing and his status of having been the drummer for Nirvana, one of the most celebrated rock bands of the last 30 years. What fascinates me about Grohl, though, is how his current persona seems so distanced from his punk roots or Nirvana’s cultural legacy. DC punk and hardcore is remembered for its sharp political edge, and there was a tension between Nirvana’s celebrity status and their counter-cultural posturing. Dave Grohl, on the other hand, is one of the most white-bread figures around. And I don’t mean that as a diss—he comes off as one of the most affable and friendly people ever, always willing to lend a rock throne to Axl Rose or have a drum-off with kids on YouTube. He is in no way controversial or counter-cultural and seems totally fine with that. I’m sure that these elusive diehard Foo Fighters fans, whoever they are, have an admiration for Grohl’s musical history, but I don’t think it’s what animates their continued enthusiasm for the Foo Fighters.
So why does everyone know the Foo Fighters, but no one seems to be, like, really really into them? How does a guy who has one of the most punk upbringings imaginable become the Mister Rogers of mainstream rock music? Maybe there are no good answers to these questions. Maybe the answers to these questions are not any more interesting than “the band makes songs that people like, so people like the band.” Maybe these questions are not enough to support an entire podcast, but we’re sure going to try.
I think we might become the first ever Foo Fighters stans along the way.
Jordan Petersen Kamp graduated in 2017. He works as the controller for Trellis, a certified Herman Miller furniture dealer located in West Michigan. In his spare time he enjoys talking about the books and albums he looks forward to reading and listening to someday—the ones that he’s definitely heard of but not heard or read yet.