Throughout 1988 Dave Grohl was busy touring with Scream, including his first visit to Europe, but whenever the tour dates let up, he would return home to Virginia. Whilst his most recent musical adventures had taken him elsewhere Grohl had remained friends with local studio owner Barrett Jones and would find himself visiting more and more often in his downtime. Earlier in the year, Jones had relocated his Laundry Room Studio for the third time, now situated in the basement of a house on Upland Street in the city.
Dave would help Barrett with his solo project in the studio “sometimes [playing] bass or guitar on some songs” but with his creative input in Scream growing and being eager to write more of his own material he had a brainwave.
“That summer I realized that if I were to write a song, record the drums first, then come back over it with a few guitars, bass, and vocals, I could make it sound like a band. So, I came up with a few riffs on the spot and recorded three songs in under 15 minutes.” Excited by the possibilities Grohl started writing more material. Some of the ideas would be taken to his Scream bandmates, whilst others would be “hidden away for later use”. During downtime in early October 1988, in the middle of a European tour, Grohl asked Barrett if he could record one of his newly written songs, which his friend duly obliged, finding space on one of his tape reels. ‘Gods Look Down’ is a song that would be later recorded with Scream, but this first version was all Grohl.
Grohl stuck to his initial idea of recording the drum track for the song first, his natural rhythm and timing impressing Jones. “[He] didn’t use a click track at all. [He] was good at that.” The guitar tracks were added next, with a clean, melodic track and a more dirty, rough track - both running through a Marshall amplifier. A simple bass track was added and then the final step – singing. Whilst he’d recorded backing vocals during recording for his first album with Scream and experimented privately, this would be the first time he’d properly record lead vocals on a song.
The vocals on the recording were double tracked with Grohl later remarking that he sounded “like a girl,” joking that his “balls hadn’t dropped yet.” Barrett described this version of the song as “incredible” and “very raw”, noting that whilst he was perhaps a little biased, he preferred this version to the later Scream recording. It wasn’t perfect, but the pair knew they worked well together, with Grohl describing it as “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”