‘I feel bad about the bad things, I feel good about the good things, but I wouldn’t change a thing….’
The problem with music documentary’s is that they can end up being too fawning and complimentary, which is the exact opposite of what people watch the damn things for. The reason Some Kind of Monster and Dig! are so highly vaunted is that they offer a glimpse behind the PR constructed curtain to the darkness that lies beyond. You can pretend to be an ‘artist’ all you want, the people demand filth goddammit! I listen to rock ‘n’ roll music for the filth!
James Moll’s documentary isn’t quite warts and all but there are some warts, namely the manner in which numerous former Foo Fighters were ejected from the band. The refreshing thing here is that both sides of the argument are featured rather than just hearing everything from Dave Grohl’s point of view. This leads to moments in which Grohl’s nice guy persona is tested to the limit as we hear about the unceremonious dismissal of former drummer William Goldsmith and former guitarist Franz Stahl. Both played their part in the Foo Fighters meteoric rise however, so it is heartening to see them represented so prominently here. The other difficult topic is the handling of current drummer Taylor Hawkins drug overdose. I was vaguely aware that Hawkins had struggled with dependency at some point but I didn’t realise that he OD’d so emphatically that he was in a coma for a considerable amount of time. It seems that the Foo Fighters have overcome much more than some people give them credit for.
A music documentary wont win the day on scandal alone however, at some point there needs to be some, you know, music. Luckily, Back and Forth has a host of concert footage from both the Foo Fighters and Nirvana as well as extensive interviews with each band member. It seems disingenuous to describe something as ‘definitive’ when the subject matter are still very much active but it feels unlikely that Back and Forth will ever be toppled as the conclusive document about the Foo Fighters.
As a music documentary, Back and Forth lingers somewhere in the imaginary category ‘good to very good’. For fans of the Foo Fighters however, it should be considered essential viewing. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear more from Pat Smear for chrissakes? That guy is the best.