Foo Fighters Back and Forth: the documentary
For every rock tragic the documentary of a band’s history is about as good as it gets. After all, it’s all about the music, man.
To plagiarise directly from the synopsis, Back and Forth chronicles the 16 year history of the Foo Fighters; a group that started literally as a one-man-band and developed into one of the biggest present-day rock acts around. After watching Back and Forth a few times (ok about 10) I’m happy to report this is not one of those bullshit music docos where it’s all about blowing smoke up the band’s collective asses. It’s pretty honest and handles a few touchy subjects including the sacking of several band members and the overdose of drummer Taylor Hawkins in 2001. It’s so honest that Taylor was actually told NME Magazine he’d rather it wasn’t released:
“I wish we wouldn't put the fucking movie out to be honest because I'm not really comfortable with the public sort of openness…
"We almost broke up and I almost died and all those crazy things have happened. And that's what people want. If they're gonna watch a fucking movie about you they don’t just want some guys sitting around and going, 'Ooh, it was really great and then we were all so happy… that would be boring and unrealistic."
Amen brother. That’s exactly why this documentary is worth a look, not just for Foo Fighters fans, but music fans in general.
Back and Forth begins with the man who started it all: Dave Grohl. His brief story about dreaming of being a rock star is relatable and approachable, and this frankness continues throughout.
I knew, from the countless interviews, music videos and concerts I’ve watched, that Grohl has a wicked sense of humour and no-bullshit approach, but the big surprise from Back and Forth for me was guitarist Pat Smear. He was funny, light and self-deprecating – not at all what I expected from an underground punk-rock legend. Also, most people wouldn’t be aware he was the second guitarist for Nirvana in the last few years of the band’s career. His insights about this time were honest and a little sad.
Back and Forth spends an appropriate amount of time on the Nirvana/Kurt Cobain story, as it laid the foundations for some of what followed with the Foo Fighters. The first album Grohl recorded included songs he’d written during his time with Nirvana. The recording of this first cassette tape (yep – remember those kids?) was his effort to get out of the funk he was in for months after Cobain’s death.
What kept me glued to Back and Forth was not just the history of a band that’s one of my favourites, but *shock horror* these guys actually talked about how they felt over the years. Not too much about private life stuff either. It’s not like an ENews special, just the music and their lives around it. As curious as I am about Grohl’s life, I don’t care that much. As a fan, I want to hear about the music and that’s what Back and Forth is all about.
I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow. If you’re a Foo Fighters fan or just a music fan then watch it. You won’t be disappointed – it’s part history and part behind the scenes of recording their latest album Wasting Light.
Are you a rock tragic? Is there a band you love and want to see ‘immortalised’ by a documentary? Or do you already have a favourite music doco?