In 1997 Foo Fighters were approached by the production company behind a re-imagining of the 'Godzilla' franchise who were interesting in having the band record music to accompany a new movie about the fictional monster. The band agreed to make a contribution and were, according to Grohl, paid " an astronomical amount of money" to write and record a song to feature in the movie, due to be released the following year.
The band visited Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California to record the song, the first time Grohl had returned to the studio since recording the 'Nevermind' album with Nirvana there in 1991. This was also the first time the then 'new' Foo Fighters line up had recorded together with freshly recruited guitarist Franz Stahl and drummer Taylor Hawkins, although Hawkins had previously recorded with Grohl & Mendel at a BBC session in 1997. This was therefore the first time as this four piece in a studio.
The track they recorded at this session, 'A320', was written especially for the occasion of the movie and the band were aware it was a little different from their usual fare. "It seems like it's almost for a movie score" thought Grohl. The song, like many Foo Fighters songs at the time was written and honed during sound checks for live shows. "We were writing the song [A320] at sound checks while we were on tour in Japan, ironically enough. And at every sound check, the song just got bigger and weirder. It's one of my favorite things we've ever recorded, just because it's so off-the-wall" Grohl enthused.
"The first third of the song is really beautiful and kind of mellow" continued Grohl as he described the track. "Then the middle part is kind of the big rock thing, and then the end is this crazy crescendo that you can almost see the credits rolling as you listen to it. It's pretty cool" he added.
Taylor Hawkins also acknowledged that the song was quite different from the band's usual sound, noting "There's really not that many words", a point Grohl had also realised. "No, the lyrics are only in the first third of the song. The rest of it's almost instrumental". Due to this departure from their normal sound Taylor had reservations about how well received the song would be, stating that "People are either going to love it or hate it". Hawkins also noted that the song was "pretty prog rock", a point Grohl again agreed with.
As well as being the first recording session for this incarnation of the band it also marked the first time extra instruments and guest musicians would feature on a Foo Fighters studio recording. Benmont Tench, founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and also prolific session musician guested on the track playing the Hammond B3 Organ as well as the Chamberlain, an electro-mechanical keyboard capable of outputting various musical instruments and special effects.
A second guest musician was much more familiar to the band and their fans, Petra Haden of 'That Dog'. Grohl first met Haden whilst he was touring with Nirvana and That Dog had supported Foo Fighters for a large portion of their 1995 and 1996 live shows, Haden also occasionally joining the band during their set to sing lead vocals and play Violin on the track 'Floaty'. With A320 requiring some strings Haden was the obvious choice to participate.
This recording session is also a key part of Foo Fighters history for another reason. Nick Raskulinecz was an assistant engineer at Sound City at the time of recording and this marked the first time he and Grohl met and worked together. After an opportune meeting in an LA parking lot three years later Raskulinecz would go on to record and produce most Foo Fighters recording sessions between 2001 and 2005 including the albums 'One By One' and 'In Your Honor'.
Whilst Dave has spoken positively of A320 he has been less enthusiastic about the Godzilla movie for which it was recorded. "We were very proud of it, we submitted it and they gave us a cheque. We were on tour when the movie came out, we sat in the theatre, we suffered the two and a half hours to sit in front of Godzilla" he recalled in a 2013 interview.
He was also just as scathing before a rare live performance of the track in Sweden in November 1999, telling the crowd that the song "was on the soundtrack of the worst movie you've ever seen in your life" before adding "but the song's good!". The song does not feature in the movie itself but does feature very briefly during the closing credits and is featured on the CD Soundtrack for the movie.
It's possible that other songs were recorded during this session as it was the first opportunity for the band to record with their new line-up however since they were paid by the movie producers to record the song it's possible they were also paying for the studio time at Sound City, meaning the band could only record the song for the movie.
There were reports in 1998 that the band had agreed to record a Depeche Mode cover track to feature on a tribute album titled 'For The Masses' and the reports suggested they may have recorded it during this session. That report was however quashed by a statement from the record label putting the album out, A&M Records, noting that whilst the band had initially volunteered to make a contribution they could not find the time to record a track at short notice.