20 Years Ago: The Foo Fighters Release "There Is Nothing Left To Lose"

November 2, 2019

It was 1999 and the Foo Fighters were still trying to figure things out in the fifth year of their genesis. Then on November 2nd, 1999, the Foos released the album that examplified their famous soft-loud-soft-loud sound, There Is Nothing Left To Lose.

Before recording had gone underway, Dave Grohl had just let go of former guitarist and longtime friend Franz Stahl after bringing him in following the departure of Pat Smear. It was a very difficult and emotional decision for Grohl to make, reducing the Foos from a quartet down to a trio with Grohl of guitar and vocals, Nate Mendel on bass, and Taylor Hawkins on drums.

The trio were like the three amigos. They did everything together and worked well together. The chemistry between them was perfect at the time because they were in the process of changing record labels. After recording Foo Fighters and The Colour and The Shape with Capitol Records, they were free from any corporate intervention and they were free to hone their craft however they saw fit.

Another perk prior to reocrding There Is Nothing Left To Lose was the band's exodus from the jaded atmosphere of Hollywood, moving to Grohl's homemade studio in Alexandria, VA where they recorded everything the old-fashioned way... to tape. No computers. No digital manipulation. No auto-tune.

After completing the recording process, the Foos needed another guitarist for when they go on tour. That is when they brought in current Foo Fighter, Chris Shiflett.

When November 2nd rolled around, the album topped at the #10 spot on the Billboard 200 Album chart. However, the album itself contained one of the band's most iconic songs to ever hit the airwaves: "Learn To Fly." A different change of pace, siding more with melody rather than grit and raw power like in The Colour and the Shape, "Learn To Fly" got even more attention due to their hilarous music video of Grohl, Mendel and Hawkins playing various passengers and flight crew on an airplane whose coffee has been drugged by Tenacious D members Jack Black and Kyle Gass. But despite it's success, Grohl admits that "Learn To Fly" is probably one of his least-favorite songs on the record.

The next single off of There Is Nothing Left To Lose was the savagely spiteful "Stacked Actors." The song emodied Grohl's strong contempt for the shallow and fake lifestyles he witnessed in Hollywood. The song did make it on to the Top 10 Mainstream Rock Radio chart, but found itself on and off of the Foo Fighters' live set lists as years went by.

The third single off of the album was "Breakout" in which Grohl starts normal, but then quickly transitions into full-blast scream mode. "Breakout" received some extra momentum after being featured in the Jim Carrey film Me, Myself & Irene, as well as an accompanying music video that featured members of the film's cast and Grohl's own mother flipping him off.

There Is Nothing Left To Lose landed the Foo Fighters their first Grammy Award for Best Rock Album, which would only be the first of many to follow.