“People always say I’m the luckiest one in the Foo Fighters,” laughs Rami Jaffee, the band’s all-purpose keyboardist who can be seen on full display in Sonic Highways, the eight-part HBO rock-docuseries now available on Blu-ray and digital platforms via Roswell/RCA.
Highways was the brainchild of head Foomaster Dave Grohl, who took his band to eight different studios across the U.S. to capture the unique vibe of each respective recording space and the city surrounding it. An additional two hours of behind-the-scenes in-studio footage on Highways shows Grohl, Jaffee, producer Butch Vig, and the entire band playing off each other to get to the heart of the sound they ultimately found in towns like Austin, Chicago, New York, Seattle, and Nashville. Songs like the gnarly “Outside” and gear-shifting two-parter “What Did I Do?/As God Is My Witness” show even more depth beyond the layers of crunch in Vig’s 5.1 mix.
Besides his ongoing Foos duties, Jaffee runs the much-in-demand Fonogenic Studios in Van Nuys, California with partner Ran Pink. At Fonogenic, artists including Brendan Buckley and Minnie Driver, Jonny Kaplan & The Lazy Stars, and LeAnn Rimes come to rehearse and perform live on the 65 by 20-foot soundstage, as well as record new material. (Rimes is currently there laying down backing tracks for an upcoming Christmas album.)
Jaffee is also a big believer in hi-res: “Because dense rock, which most of the Foo Fighters stuff is, really benefits from high resolution and listening to it on high-end gear. People don’t understand — I came from the tape world. When Pro Tools and digital came out for me, it was like, ‘Oh man, listen how f—ing crisp that [Hammond] B3 [organ] is now!’ it was almost too warm for me in the olden days. You wanted a high-end tape machine, but you don’t want the mud and the shit. People are looking for those plug-ins now: ‘How do we really mud this up?’ Their reason for going back to tape is for to make it sound like shit! (chuckles) I go, ‘You guys — trust me. You really don’t want to go too far here. There are benefits of high resolution!’”
Read more of my interview with Rami on Digital Trends.