The initial guitar dynamic in the Foo Fighters was based on one basic idea: simplicity. Dave Grohl never considered himself the greatest guitar player in the world, and the guitar lines on the Foos’ 1995 debut show that Grohl was an intense and talented, if not an especially technical, guitar player. When he recruited former Nirvana touring guitarist Pat Smear to join the band, the focus remained on impactful guitar parts rather than intricate lead lines.
‘Everlong’ wasn’t a particularly difficult arrangement, apart from the legendarily difficult drum performance. The guitars played by both Grohl and Smear were meant to fill up the sonic space, and that’s exactly what they do. No solos, no wild theatrics, no histrionics, and no bull. Just big-ass power chords played at full volume. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Grohl had come up with the song’s unique central riff, and throughout the arrangement of ‘Everlong’, Smear doesn’t diverge from it. Instead, he layers on the distortion to give each hit its own singular sense of power, adding accents to make the loudness of the song even louder. The only time that the guitars ever let up is on the brief instrumental breakdown after the song’s second chorus. Once we ramp back into the chorus, though, the relentless guitar attack is back on.
Most songs by Foo Fighters are a battle between who can be the loudest, the drums or the guitars. The Colour and the Shape was an instance where Grohl was actually competing with himself, recording ridiculously aggressive drum parts and then immediately layering an ear-bashing guitar line over the top. Smear was no slouch in the volume department either – it’s no surprise that his departure led to the softer tones of There Is Nothing Left to Lose in 1999.
The Foos would diversify their sound in time, but on The Colour in the Shape, the band were still well within their grunge comfort zone. Loud-soft dynamics were essential to the entire makeup of the album, with guitar performances being front-loaded on the mixes for basically every song on the LP. The massive wave of guitars on ‘Everlong’ just proves how much volume was required for Grohl to compete with his own legendarily loud drum performances.
Listen to the isolated guitars from ‘Everlong’ down below.