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Foo Fighters’ Nate Mendel Reflects on The Weirdness of Finally Releasing ‘Medicine At Midnight’

The Foo Fighters bassist also explained how Medicine at Midnight turned out to be the band’s most concise record to date.

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It’s been a long time coming but Foo Fighters’ much-delayed 10th studio album, Medicine at Midnight, is finally out into the world. Clocking in at just over 36 minutes, this nine-song collection is not only the band’s most concise work so far, it’s arguably the poppiest album in their two-decade plus career.

After initially getting a glimpse of what the band were cooking up with “Shame Shame“, the funky lead single off Medicine at Midnight, the rest of the album came as a bit of an unexpected surprise due to how much it strayed from the usual Foo Fighters playbook while still remaining distinctively “Foo Fighters.”

And after chatting with bassist Nate Mendel about Medicine at Midnight, it was an even bigger surprise to find out that tight and concise was the goal this time around, which in turn resulted in the band’s shortest album yet.

“The plan was to make a concise record. That was more of the production and the songs themselves, not necessarily concise in length,” Mendel tells Rolling Stone Australia. “But that might have just been an after effect of that, you know. We wanted to make it yeah, kind of light and easy and so making it less than 50 minutes long kind of fit in with that.”

The record making process usually results in a surplus of ideas, which are then filed away for future projects. But for those hoping to a collection of Medicine at Midnight B-sides, don’t expect any left over material.

“It happens sometimes where you know, we’ll have like 24 demos and there’s songs that just don’t happen,” says the Foo Fighters bassist. “We recorded every single idea and every one is on the record. It was pretty concise that way, you know.”

“Like the riff from ‘Cloudspotter’, you know that’s a classic one. It’s like ‘oh I can’t believe that didn’t make it onto the record this time.’ And this time it did make it on the record. But this, this album didn’t produce any surplus riffs.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Foo Fighters to push the original 2020 release date for Medicine at Midnight to February 2021, and it still doesn’t quite feel quite the same for Mendel.

That’s perhaps not too surprising given how the usual “new album and tour” playbook got totally ripped up this time around. Despite having played several songs off Medicine at Midnight live now, the new environment has taken some time to get used to.

“You know what’s weird about that? It’s usually when you go out and play live that you really get a sense of what the album’s going to be and which songs you know, end up on the set list and which ones people respond to when you play them,” reflects Mendel. “And it’s so weird, like putting it out in this awkward, distant void. I like it.”

“You know, but it’s really time’s going to tell until we’re able to play it in front of an audience. Like ultimately, where it fits in our you know, in our catalogue, in our history. I don’t know.”

After 25 years of doing the same thing, this is the first time in Foo Fighters’ history where there’s an anxiety over what the band is going to do now that their new album is finally here. Do they tour? Wait some more? Record a new album while the world waits for the pandemic to subside?

It’s a case of wait and see, really.

“Well it’s you know, we’re just anxious is really what it is,” says Mendel. “It’s like you know, imagine. We’ve been doing this for 25 years and you have this pattern. You know, you write the songs, you record the songs, you do a couple of videos and put a couple of songs on the radio and then go tour.”

“And that feels alright and good, and that’s sort of you know, penultimate part of that is on hold. So but, I should say anxious is the operative word there.”

Foo Fighters’ Medicine at Midnight is out now.