After a break of several months Foo Fighters returned to the live stage in August 2001 with a planned two-week tour across Europe but with just three of those shows completed drummer Taylor Hawkins was admitted to hospital following a suspected drug overdose. To the relief of his friends and family Hawkins quickly recovered from the incident but was in no state to play shows, the remaining dates all canceled. Along with the rest of the band, he flew back home to the United States, checking into a rehabilitation clinic on his arrival.
Whilst he was away receiving treatment Hawkins asked his friend Michael Aloi to keep an eye on his LA home and look after his dog. Dave Grohl would also drop in at the house from time to time and on one occasion in September, to take his mind off the situation, decided to set up some equipment in the recently constructed studio at the house to continue work on ideas for the next Foo Fighters album, despite not knowing when Hawkins would again be available to work on it.
With the help of Aloi six songs were recorded, Grohl returning to his one-man-band setup by recording all instruments himself, including the grand piano Hawkins had installed in his studio. No vocals were recorded for any of the tracks according to Aloi, all remaining instrumental.
Tracked first was a version of ‘Halo’, still known at this point by its working title of ‘Tom Petty’. The overall structure of the song was largely the same as the version later released on the album ‘One By One’ but this early demo naturally lacked some of the final polish found on that finished version. The guitar tracks were simpler with fewer overdubs and a similarly simple bass line just mirrored the guitar parts. The drum track was mostly the same, with Taylor Hawkins just adding a few more fills in his later recording. The song was also slightly faster in tempo at this point in its life but otherwise, the song was largely finalized in this initial demo recording.
Next to be recorded was ‘Come Back’, a song that would go through a significant transformation before its eventual release in 2002. The final version would be a two-part song with complex dynamics and layering but this early version was in comparison a much simpler, straightforward rock song with heavy, sludgy guitars and uncomplicated drum beats.
The intro of the song featured a palm muted guitar over the drums, unlike the heavily distorted guitar intro on the final version.
Grohl didn’t give a title to the third song he recorded but it was, in fact, a very early version of what would later become the song ‘She’s Giving In’ by Jackson United, a side project of Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett. The Grohl composition recorded at this session was relatively bare bones in comparison to the Jackson version, with a much slower tempo and a more relaxed feeling in general. The guitar parts recorded by Dave were simple and clean with none of the frantic leads found on the later recording. Drums were similarly light and basic although this version did feature more pronounced hi-hat work during the intro. The bass guitar was again very simple, a straightforward walking bass line throughout most of the track.
The much-evolved version of the song recorded by Jackson United was featured on their debut album ‘Western Ballads’, released in October 2004.
The fourth song to be tracked by Grohl during this session was one more familiar to Foo Fighters fans, ‘Lonely As You’. As with ‘Come Back’ recorded earlier, this version of the song was far rawer and embryonic in nature. The subdued introduction of the album version was not present, the recording instead jumping straight into the riff of the song with heavy drumming standing out, at least in the initial rough mixes. There was no guitar solo or any layered guitar tracks present at this stage, just the basic riffs, and repeated verses.
The fifth track was a second original Grohl composition that later became a Jackson United song, ‘Sharp Edges’. This early version was again still very early in development, even more so than the first track. The drumming was much more subdued as was the guitar, featuring only a very simple rhythm track throughout with no heavy riffs as can be heard on the Jackson version. As with ‘She’s Giving In’, the song was included on the ‘Western Ballads’ album.
Finally, Grohl recorded an early version of the track ‘Burn Away’, differing from the version on ‘One By One’ in several ways. The recording opened with a mixture of very light guitar and piano before exploding into life with Grohl’s signature heavy drum beats. The tempo of the song was much faster and as was the case with other tracks recorded during this session, the overall structure was far simpler, Grohl just repeating the same simple chorus and verse. The palm muted guitar was not present during the verses however the main guitar melody was already in place, which would be matched with the vocal melody in the final recording. Despite the faster tempo, this version of the track ran for five and a half minutes, some thirty seconds longer than the album version, partly due to the bridge section being extended.
Rough mixes of the session were mixed down to DAT and CD so Dave could take the songs back to the rest of the band for further work, once Taylor had fully recovered. None of the recordings from this session have ever been publicly released.