Foo Fighters follow ‘Adele’ blueprint on return

Grunge veterans the Foo Fighters are channelling their inner Rick Astley with a bold new record. (AFP)
Updated 22 August 2017
0

Foo Fighters follow ‘Adele’ blueprint on return

TOKYO: Grunge veterans the Foo Fighters are channelling their inner Rick Astley with a bold new record the American rockers describe as their “weirdest” yet.
While their DNA is rooted in the Seattle grunge scene of the early nineties, the band told AFP that turning to British pop diva Adele’s award-winning producer Greg Kurstin for their ninth studio album, “Concrete and Gold,” brought a fresh dimension to their sound.
In an interview before headlining the Summer Sonic festival in Tokyo — where they invited Astley on stage for an improbable mash-up of the eighties pin-up’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” — Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett said:
“People think it Is a really weird choice for us to work with a pop producer but it made perfect sense. There Is so much more to Greg and his love of music and knowledge base than just the pop stuff.”
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, the former Nirvana drummer, chose him to replicate the alchemy he has with Adele, this time with a gnarly rock band.
“We were not getting Greg for Adele’s sound,” said keyboardist Rami Jaffee, previously a fan of Kurstin’s indie synthpop duo The Bird and the Bee.
“The Greg we had in the studio was definitely the more adventurous soundscape guy — he brought more of that stuff,” he added.
“I thought: ‘Oh boy, we are getting weird quick!’ This record we really took extra leaps and bounds, sonically.”
Due out next month, the new Foo Fighters album combines thunderous guitar riffs with lush, harmonic textures.
Tracks such as “La Dee Da” and the Donald Trump-inspired single “Run” rock out, but the Foo Fighters shift gears on the dreamy “Dirty Water,” while the title track is a slow-burner that features Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman.
Beatles legend Paul McCartney also plays drums on one track among several other guest turns, including Alison Mosshart of The Kills.
“Paul McCartney is a fan of music,” said Shiflett, nibbling on vegetable sticks in between photo shoots.
“He only did two passes at the song, which he had never even heard before. Then he just wanted to noodle around so we just jammed on a bunch of other stuff.”
The Foo Fighters shot to fame in the late nineties with hits such as “This Is A Call,” “Monkey Wrench” and “Learn To Fly” and have sold more than 30 million records worldwide.
“I did not join the band until ‘99 but I remember a cassette tape bootleg of the first album way before it came out circulating,” said Shiflett.
“All my friends that were in the know had it and it was just something that would be on the stereo at parties.”
But after a turbulent 2015 when Grohl broke his leg after plunging off the stage and they were forced to cancel a tour, rumors persisted that the group were set to split.
“It would be so dumb for any band to break up,” insisted guitarist Pat Smear, who also used to tour with Nirvana. “You just look stupid when you get back together.”
Shiflett believes the secret of the band’s longevity lies in not taking themselves too seriously, pointing to a spat with Coldplay, who took offense at a mischievous bumper sticker joke in a 2011 Foo Fighters video.
“I remember at the time Chris Martin got super offended and actually got into it with Dave at a kids birthday party or something,” he said.
“It certainly was not meant to offend anybody. I do not think this band could ever take itself too seriously.”
Jaffee agrees.
“Not taking yourselves too seriously — all other bands take note,” he said.
“It is a very important thing to keep in check and I am sorry, Chris Martin, but all our wives love you!”


Recent appointments in Egypt show rise of women to high political office in Mideast

The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Updated 21 June 2018
0

Recent appointments in Egypt show rise of women to high political office in Mideast

  • Recent appointments in Egypt are the latest example of the rise of women to high political office in the region
  • “The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position”

CAIRO, LONDON: The appointment of two more female ministers this month to the new Egyptian Cabinet means women now fill eight out of 34 positions, the highest number in the modern history of Egypt.

Hala Zayed is the new health minister while Yasmine Fouad takes over as environment minister. Both women replaced men and join culture minister Inas Abdel-Dayem, tourism minister Rania Al-Mashat, Nabila Makram (immigration minister) Ghada Wali (social solidarity minister), Hala El-Saeed (planning minister) and Sahar Nasr (minister of investment and international cooperation).
The appointments by Egypt’s new Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly have been welcomed as forward thinking by social and political commentators.
Dr. Magda Bagnied, a writer and professor of communication, told Arab News: “I believe whoever planned for those eight effective ministries was looking forward for the future of Egypt since they are all interconnected in some way, and having females leading them is a leap forward.
“A country’s rank and status is measured by the role of women. The higher the number of leadership roles for women, the further the country is considered to be on the road to development.”
Four out of 15 new deputy ministers are also women and women now hold 15 percent of the seats in Parliament.
The rise of women to high political office in the Arab world is by no means restricted to Egypt.
Jordan also has a record number of women ministers after Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz appointed seven women to the 29-member Cabinet sworn in last week.
“The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position.”
The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Twenty-three members of the new Jordanian Cabinet have been ministers before and 13 were members of the outgoing government that was brought down by popular protest.
Rawan Joyoussi, whose posters became one of the defining images of the protests, said: “I was hoping that women would be empowered and I am happy with that. But as far as the composition of the rest of the government is concerned, I think we have to play our part to create the mechanisms that will hold the government accountable.”
In the UAE, women hold nine out of 31 ministerial positions, and one of them, Minister for Youth Shamma Al-Mazrui, is also the world’s youngest minister, appointed in 2016 when she was only 22.
This makes the UAE Cabinet nearly 30 percent female, which is higher than India, almost equal to the UK and far ahead of the US, where Donald Trump has just four women in his Cabinet.
The general election in Morocco in October 2016 produced 81 women members of Parliament, accounting for 21 percent of the total 395 seats. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won the most votes, also ended up with the highest number of women MPs, 18.
Though elections in Saudi Arabia were open to women only in 2015, it ranks 100th out of 193rd in the world league table of women in national governing bodies, slightly above the US at 102nd place.
A policy briefing from the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington says that one of the best ways for a country to ease economic pressure and boost productivity is to increase female participation in the workplace and in political life.
“Introducing diversity through gender parity will benefit economic growth and can help Arab countries to generate prosperity as well as the normative and social imperative of change,” wrote analyst Bessma Momani.
Yet in some parts of the Middle East, female representation seems to be going backward.
In 2009, four of Kuwait’s 65 MPs were women. In 2012 there were three and in 2013 only one. In 2016, 15 women stood for election to the 50 open parliamentary seats (the other 15 are appointed). Only one, Safa Al-Hashem, who was already an MP, was successful.
Qatar has no women MPs or ministers at all.
Egypt’s appointment of two more women ministers does not have the appearance of tokenism. The new Health Minister, Hala Zayed, 51, has a solid background in the field as a former president of the Academy of Health Sciences, a hospital specializing in cancer treatment for children.
She was also government adviser on health, chairwoman of a committee for combating corruption at the ministry she now heads and also has a Ph.d. in project management.
Similarly, Yasmeen Fouad, 43, the new environment minister, has four years’ experience as a former assistant minister in the same department, where she was known as “the lady for difficult missions,” and liaised with the UN. She is also an assistant professor of economics and political science at Cairo University.
Egypt’s first female minister was Hikmat Abu Zaid, appointed minister of social affairs in 1962 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who dubbed her “the merciful heart of revolution.”
Now there are eight like her, demonstrating that in the Middle East, “girl power” is on the rise.