“My friend had no idea that when he gave me a copy of that first Foo Fighters album, it would change the direction of my entire life.”
If you’re anything like me, music has shaped who you are as a person. Specific bands transformed your life in some way. When you heard their music, you were headbanging to it not just because the heavy riffs were awesome, but because the music and what it represents resonated with the core of your personality. Rock says it’s okay to go against the trend. Rock says sometimes “normal” is boring. We wanted more of that energy and adventure.
One album in particular flipped my world upside down. I was 16 years old when a friend of mine handed me a copy of the very first Foo Fighters album; the one where Dave Grohl played every instrument himself. It was basically a solo project that eventually turned into one of the greatest rock bands of our time. My friend had no idea that when he gave me a copy of that first Foo Fighters album, it would change the direction of my entire life.
Honestly I don’t think I even listened to the album right away. A month or so went by before I finally put that first Foo Fighters CD on in my car. When I finally gave it a listen, I was blown away. I could not believe one person could have written and recorded everything I was hearing. My friend had said something else that stuck with me; “I think you could make your own album like this,” he said.
That first Foo Fighters album was much more raw and less polished than most popular music of that time. I had no hope of recording an album that would have a glossy multi-million dollar studio sound, but the quality of that early Foo Fighters record seemed much more achievable for me. My parents had an old Hewlett Packard computer and I loaded it up some recording software and old classic computer games; Warcraft, Starcraft, and a bunch of old Star Wars games for when I had writer’s block. If I didn’t have to eat I’d probably never have left that room. I began recording my first solo album.
It’s funny, a few months earlier I had actually tried recording an original song I had written. When I listened back to the recording, I was so embarrassed at the sound of my own voice that I gave up. My friend could see my potential though. His words gave me enough courage to try again. Sometimes it takes someone else to see the potential in us before we see it in ourselves. This time I would finish recording the song and go on to record an entire album.
I only had one $10 microphone at the time, and I used it to record every instrument on that first album. I think I thought I was recording the next Foo Fighters or Audioslave album, but it didn’t turn out nearly as great as I’d hoped. In fact it was pretty terrible! I called it Nathan Vs. The Crustaceans and the album cover was a photo of my head photo-shopped onto a grasshopper’s body. I don’t know what that had to do with anything, but I thought it was hilarious. I never officially released it to the public, but I passed out homemade CD’s to friends. It was a start though.
That first Foo Fighters album helped define my sound for years to come. You can still hear how Dave Grohl influenced my songwriting in my music today. Take the song from the video above for example. The main guitar riff from B Is For Bombs is somewhat reminiscent of the 1995 Foo Fighters song Watershed. My drumming style is a hybrid blend developed from years of listening to Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. I even learned how to write a chorus melody and structure a song from studying Foo Fighters albums. In addition, that first Foo Fighters album would make me believe that a normal guy like me recording in his house could participate and belong in the music world. The music business was no longer just for the million-dollar rock star or celebrity. There was suddenly room for people like us. We could make songs that inspire too. The dream of becoming an original musician finally seemed achievable for normal people like you and me. Now, when people ask why I became a songwriter, I can say “Dave Grohl made me do it!”
Today I’m 33 years old and I am still writing and recording new songs. Hopefully I’ve come a long way. Okay, just for fun, here’s my Top 10 most influential albums list. These are the albums that continue to “shape” me as a musician and songwriter. I know you’ll recognize some of these gems. I’d love to hear your list as well, so be sure to let me know in the comments below!
My Top 10 List:
1. Foo Fighters – Self Titled (but my favorite of theirs is Wasting Light)
2. Weezer – The Blue Album
3. Green Day – Nimrod (I chose this because Time Of Your Life is on it, but my actual favorite Green Day album is probably Warning)
4. Pearl Jam – Vs.
5. Toadies – Hell Below Stars Above
6. Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil
7. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium
8. Kings Of Leon – Come Around Sundown
9. Coldplay – Viva La Vida
10. Blur – Self-Titled
Bonus picks! Our Lady Peace – Curve, Pete Yorn – Back and Forth, Chevelle – La Gargola, Jimmy Eat World – Invented, Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles
I bet there’s a lot about me that you can infer just from reading my list. So what albums influenced you the most? Let me know in the comments below!
Nathan (aka Vandarth)
B Is For Bombs appears on Vandarth’s latest album Space Coffin.
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