Foo Fighters - There Is Nothing Left to Lose (Cover Artwork)

Foo Fighters

There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999)


I think the last record sounds like a hardcore band trying to be a melodic rock band.
--Dave Grohl,1999

In recording Foo Fighters' previous album, The Colour and the Shape, drummer William Goldsmith left the band citing creative differences with the other members. Likewise, guitarist Pat Smear would also depart after the album's release. Alanis Morissette's drummer, Taylor Hawkins, was brought in to play drums for The Colour and the Shape's subsequent tour and Dave Grohl's former Scream bandmate, Franz Stahl, was brought in to play guitar. While writing and recording There Is Nothing Left to Lose, Stahl would be asked to leave the band also due to creative differences, leaving Grohl, Hawkins and bassist Nate Mendel to carry on as a three-piece.

The resulting record was Foo Fighters at their most accessible and comfortable. The three members lived in Grohl's Virginia home as they wrote and recorded the album in the spring of 1999 without the aid of a record label, after leaving Capitol Records due to label personnel changes. Besides the album's first song, the Pixies/Hüsker Dü-sounding "Stacked Actors," There Is Nothing Left to Lose is a mix of radio-friendly rock songs and mellow front-porch anthems. Breakout singles (pun completely intended) like "Learn to Fly" and "Breakout" are simple and catchy compositions that helped define the modern rock of the `90s. More than that, though, those songs, along with deeper cuts like "Live-in Skin" and "Headwires," don't date themselves. Raised on punk rock and hardcore, Foo Fighters never succumbed to any of the trends of the `90s and always wrote music for music's sake.

Enter songs like the electric ballads "Aurora" and "Next Year." The former is a lightly distorted epic that rivals "Everlong" for most beloved song by die-hard fans; "Next Year" was also released as a single and became the theme song for the television program "Ed."

The record's centerpiece and most poignant song is "Ain't It the Life," reflecting the band's mood of the era. It's also "the only song I'd be comfortable playing on my porch," according to Grohl. That description is fitting for a song about moving away from the artificial side of Los Angeles to old familiar Virginia: "Hey wait I thought you made it / How'd your bottled crown fall off / Tell me how'd you get so tired / Fade it down to the wire / Try living a lie / Kicking out the same old guise / Wasting time."

There Is Nothing Left to Lose would go onto win the Grammy awards for Best Rock Album and Best Short Form Music Video ("Learn to Fly"). Before the tour cycle started, the band recruited No Use for a Name guitarist Chris Shiflett, and before recording the One by One album, would ask him to join the band permanently. He accepted.

A fair number of fans scrutinize this record for being too poppy and where Foo Fighters started venturing into soundtrack territory. Those are fair arguments but this album is the sound of a band coming together and gaining their confidence in the process. For a band that made records believing each one would be their last, that's commendable.