“In my mind, if a band was on MTV, they all lived in mansions and drove Ferraris”: Chris Shiflett on how Foo Fighters defied his expectations

“People never believe me, but it was a lot smaller in those days.”

Chris Shiflett performs in concert

Image: Gary Miller / Getty Images

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Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett has spoken about his early days in the band and how the gig defied his expectations on several fronts.

In a new interview with Andertons, Shiflett – who joined the Foos after the release of their seminal album There Is Nothing Left to Lose – says the decision was “life-changing in a lot of ways”.

“Foo Fighters were my favourite band at that time,” he recalls [via Ultimate Guitar]. When I was in No Use for a Name, we’d talk to our booking agent, and we’d always be like, ‘Get us a Foo Fighters gig!’ We loved the Foos. That part of it was super exciting because I didn’t know them personally before I joined them. You’re joining the band you love, and you’re getting to know the people in it – it couldn’t have been a bigger dream come true.”

“And then, of course, it was different in terms of size and scope. I’d see their videos on MTV, they do big tours, they’re on the covers of magazines – that whole side [was something] I’d never experienced, that was wild.”

The musician adds that while he’s had a few years of experience under his belt at the time of joining (“I wasn’t a kid”), there were still aspects of showbiz he was less savvy in.

“I didn’t really know that much about how the music business worked, beyond what I’d done, which was this little wing on it,” Shiflett explains. “In my mind, if a band was on MTV, they all lived in mansions and drove Ferraris. Coming into it at that time, it was just interesting to see the realities of all that, and get to be there for the band, building this live fanbase over the years.”

“People never believe me, but it was a lot smaller in those days.”

According to the guitarist, Foo Fighters were “nowhere near arenas at that point”, except for a tour they did with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, playing instead at “big clubs and theatres”.

“It wasn’t until the next record [2002’s One By One] that we got into arena-level touring, and that was only in the UK. So, I got to be there – I missed out on those couple of records, but I did get to be there for a lot of the ride, and the ride was pretty great.”

Shiflett also shares how playing in front of a large audience differs from smaller gigs, saying: “In a lot of ways, it’s harder playing smaller places, because the crowd is right in your face.”

Citing bandmate Dave Grohl as an example, he says: “Through those years, Dave really evolved a lot as a frontman. If you watch footage of him when the band first started versus now, he’s got more command over the stage, and that’s the most important part; he’s the one that’s out front, leading the charge.”

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