Foo Fighters Guitarist Chris Shiflett Is Releasing a Country Album
On April 14, Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett will go California country with the debut of his solo album, West Coast Town. Yet another rocker to migrate to Nashville to record, Shiflett’s new album marries his punk-rock roots with the evolving genre of country music.
"I've heard it described by various people that country music in the south came out of the church, and country music on the West Coast came out of the honky-tonks," Shiflett explains in an interview with Rolling Stone Country. "It's a louder, twangier, more aggressive version of country that came out of the environment of playing shows for rowdy fans looking to cut loose after a hard day of working in the oil fields and out on the farms. I think it was Buck Owens who said they were as loud as they were because they had to get the music over the constant din of the barrooms.”
Having performed with punk acts such as No Use for a Name and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes prior to his Foo Fighters gig, Shiflett clearly has no issue with cranking up the amplifier. He also thinks meshing punk rock with country isn’t as genre-bending as one would think.
"There's always been a connection between punk rock and country music, especially the honky-tonk side of country,” Shiflett says. “I think it all comes down to attitude. You can draw a straight line from Hank Williams to [Social Distortion's] Mike Ness. There's a certain defiant streak and rebelliousness in both genres."
Shiflett, besides being lead guitarist for Dave Grohl’s bread-and-butter act since '99, is also a singer, songwriter and podcaster. The latter perhaps was the most important piece of the puzzle for Shiflett’s country album, seeing that his podcasting gig was the reason he met red hot Nashville producer Dave Cobb.
Cobb was a guest on Shiflett’s country-Americana podcast Walking the Floor; as soon as the interview was finished, Shiflett knew he wanted to work on West Coast Town with the Grammy-winning producer.
"After I interviewed him, I just had it in my mind that I had to make a record with him," Shiflett says. "He really elevated the songs to a better place than they would have been. Working with him was such an education.”
Shiflett worked on the record with Cobb at RCA Studio A in Nashville and assembled a stellar roster of backing musicians including pedal-steel player Robby Turner (Waylon Jennings, Chris Stapleton), drummer Chris Powell (Jamey Johnson), bassist Adam Gardner and keyboardist Michael Webb. Cobb took over acoustic guitar duties with Shiflett on electric guitar and vocals.
"I gave them absolutely no direction whatsoever," he explains. "I had never worked with those cats and I was nervous going in because I just wanted to make sure I was holding down my end of the room. I felt somewhat out of my depth and out of my comfort zone, which is great because that's exactly what I wanted for this record.”
West Coast Town is being released via SideOneDummy Records.
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