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Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett: The 10 Songs That Changed My Life

Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett shares the songs that shaped him

We take a deep dive into the record collection of Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett, from Dio classics to dance anthems…

The first song that I remember hearing…

Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock (1957)

I don’t remember hearing it as much as I remember looking at the album cover, as it was one of the records that my elder brother, Mike, had. My family were instrumental in getting me involved in music; I don’t think I bought any albums for myself until I was at least 11 because I was just playing their records. At the time, I thought that my Mike and my other brother Scott’s record collections were the be all and end all of music.”

The song that reminds me of my childhood…

Stevie Wonder – Isn't She Lovely (1976)

When I was little, there were certain songs that would come on the radio that would make me cry, and this was one of them. Isn’t She Lovely along with Southern Nights by Glenn Campbell were the two in particular that really seemed to strike a chord with me. I don’t know why, but when I was five, hearing those songs would lead to me bursting into tears. It’s hard to explain why or how songs can just hit you in the gut like that.”

The song that inspired me to be a musician…

KISS – Shock Me (1977)

It has to be something by KISS! I was such a big fan of that band, before I even played music. I was obsessed with them, particularly Ace Frehley; having idolised him, it’s no coincidence that when I decided to pick up an instrument, I chose the guitar. I was a little kid when Scott brought some of their records home and I just loved everything about it: the music, the look, the craziness and mythology, the fire-breathing and blood… the whole thing was overwhelming.”

The song that reminds me of my first gig…

Dio – Stand Up And Shout (1983)

I was 12 years old when I saw Ronnie James Dio on his first Dio tour supporting the record Holy Diver – it was at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, California. It was my first rock concert, and I was really nervous; I’d heard about people getting trampled to death at shows, so I was expecting a riot to break out. I was waiting for some shit to erupt… and then it didn’t! After a few songs I was like, Okay, I think I’m safe.’ Stand Up And Shout is my favourite Ronnie James Dio song ever.”

The first song I learned to play…

The Beatles – Hey Jude (1968)

Thankfully, when I first started playing guitar I had a great teacher. I wanted to play Ozzy songs and he made me get a Beatles songbook for beginners, which I still have to this day – I found it not so long ago in a box of old stuff. I was a terrible guitar student, though. It wasn’t until I started playing in bands in high school that I made any real progression and got better. The scales and loop chords my teacher showed me definitely helped; I’m thankful that he forced me to learn them because they’ve become the foundation of everything that I do.”

The first song of mine that I heard on the radio…

The Lost Kittens – Unknown

When I was in high school there was a radio station in California called KIDE which had a local music show. My bandmates and I drove out to their studio, knocked on the back door, handed over a cassette of our demo and asked if they’d play it. Sure enough, they actually did! I’ll never forget that feeling of listening to the radio late at night on a Sunday and hearing my song come back at me over the airwaves – it was amazing. That being said, I’m wracking my brain and I honestly don’t remember what song they played or the name of it. This was a long time ago!”

My favourite song to perform live…

Chris Shiflett – West Coast Town (2017)

We always close the show with it. West Coast Town gets people tapping their toes, sparks a great reaction and it’s just a nice way to end the gigs. It’s probably the song I’ve written that’s dearest to my heart; all my songs are autobiographical in a way, but that one is more than any of them. West Coast Town had a very different vibe when I first wrote it, but once we got into the studio we changed things up a lot, and now it’s 100 per cent my favourite song to play.”

The song I’m proudest of writing…

Chris Shiflett – The Hardest Lessons (2019)

This one really stand out to me. It’s the sort-of title-track for [my latest solo album, Hard Lessons], and when I’m thinking about album titles, I always look back through my lyrics to find something some words that feel particularly significant, and this time, the idea of hard lessons’ was really popping out at me. It sums up the lyrical themes of the record very succinctly. The Hardest Lessons is a great song.”

My favourite song on Hard Lessons…

Chris Shiflett – Welcome To Your First Heartache (2019)

It’s hard to pick just one, but I’m going with Welcome To Your First Heartache – it really pulls at the heartstrings. It’s one of the hookiest songs on the album, and everyone I work with is really stoked on it. I love all the songs I record so it’s hard whittling them down and thinking about what will work best as a single, but you can tell when you play live which tracks connect with people the most, and Welcome To Your First Heartache definitely works in that regard.”

The song I’d like played at my funeral…

C+C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) (1990)

I remember being in a grumpy mood with my wife and kids one day, and my wife made the joke that at my funeral they should play the song that goes Everybody dance now!’ That’s become a long-running joke in our family: every time I’m in a shitty mood or being an asshole, my wife will sing that song to me, implying that when I’m dead and gone, everyone is going to celebrate! What could be better than that?”

Posted on May 6th 2020, 11:21a.m.
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