Guitarist Chris Shiflett recently reacalled his early days in the Foo Fighters. He shed light on how he mistuned his ax for “Stacked Actors” due to his inexperience with drop tunings.
“Shifty” is best known as the lead guitarist of one of the world’s biggest rock bands and an aspiring podcast host. However, he was already an experienced guitarist before he joined Dave Grohl & Co. in 1999, having played with the punk rock outfit No Use for a Name and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Moreover, he was a major Nirvana & Foos fan.
Speaking with Guitar Interactive Magazine, Shiflett tells talked about his early Foo Fighters days.
“It was just jumping into this band with a bunch of people that you don’t know, that you love, I was a huge fan, and then getting to do it on a level that you’ve only dreamt of. It was wild”, noting how the “joy of doing it outweighed [his] nervousness” during his first-ever show with the band, which proved to be an unannounced gig at the Troubadour.
He was asked whether he ever made any major mistakes as a fresh-faced Foos guitarist, Shiflett went on to recall a tuning miscalculation that occurred during the soundcheck for his second-ever show with the band — although hardly a fireable offense, the incident seems deeply engraved in the guitarist’s memory. He began (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar):
“I remember at the second show, when we sound-checked it, there was this song ‘Stacked Actors’. The third album [1999’s ‘There Is Nothing Left to Lose’] wasn’t out yet, but we must’ve learned a couple songs from it. Before I was in the Foo Fighters, I never played in any drop tunings; that’s just something I didn’t know. And there were a lot of – not just drop D, but some really wild, open-tunings…
“And ‘Stacked Actors’, you take the low E string, and you drop it down to A. It’s flippity-flappity; it’s nuts. At soundcheck, I accidentally tuned it to A-sharp and didn’t realize it. And we were playing it; you know that thing when you’re a half-step off? Like, ‘Something is terribly wrong here and I don’t know what it is!’ [laughs]”
He further admitted that he didn’t realize he did anything wrong until Dave Grohl subtly reprimanded him afterward. He concluded:
“I was so inexperienced with that sort of thing that I didn’t realize it was me! [laughs] And I just remember Dave coming over, when we were done with soundcheck, and saying, ‘Yeah, don’t do that.’ That was one of those moments when I thought, ‘Aaargh! I’m already fucking this up!'”