“Fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone.”
So goes the lyrics for the Foo Fighters song “Learn to Fly.”
Come February, tribute band Fooz Fighters surely won’t be alone when they perform at The Coach House.
The band aims for an authentic recreation of the popular rock act fronted by Dave Grohl and will bring that energy to the San Juan Capistrano venue on Feb. 19. To that effect, Fooz Fighters lead singer Nicky Rich grew his hair out and sports a beard to resemble Grohl.
Rich has even gone as far as tattoos similar to the ones Grohl has.
Looking like a band is just as important as sounding like one when it comes to tribute acts, guitarist and founding member Brent Wright said.
“We were like, holy cow, he kind of looks like Dave Grohl,” Wright said of Rich’s resemblance to the former Nirvana drummer.
As Rich tells it, he came into the San Diego-based band after he auditioned with a group of guys who wanted to do a Stone Temple Pilots tribute band. After rehearsing a few songs, they also told Rich about their idea for a Foo Fighters-based act.
They then got back to rehearsing but, this time, played Foo Fighters songs—which clicked.
“I just thought there was a market for a Foo Fighters tribute band,” Rich said. “We keep trying to find new ways to improve it.”
Drawing on the discography of the Foo Fighters—which includes hit songs “My Hero” and “Everlong”—is an endeavor that appeals to a lot of people, according to Rich, adding, “I thought, for sure, we would be able to draw people in. Dave Grohl’s such a popular guy. He’s a rock star.”
Fooz Fighters have found that Foo Fighters’s loyal fans are willing to see them as well. Rich said they’ve met some great people at shows who tend to be inviting and welcoming, an experience that has left him humbled.
“Everything we do is real,” Rich said of what fans can expect from their concerts. “Nothing’s pre-recorded. We’ve not wearing wigs. I’m really trying to create a visual element when you see us perform.”
Not only is Rich’s Grohl-esque hair a daily reality for him, it’s one that also causes him to sometimes be mistaken for the real deal when he’s walking down the street. Rich and Wright relayed anecdotes of Rich getting stopped for autographs while in Los Angeles for a concert.
“You put your heart into this thing,” Rich said. “We have just skyrocketed. It’s an investment.”
That investment isn’t one Fooz Fighters expect to profit from, either. Rich mentions they barely break even when it comes to touring. Instead, it’s something they do for the fans—and given an actual Foo Fighters ticket may cost $200 to $300, paying $20 to see Fooz Fighters at The Coach House may be the more prudent option.
Additionally, Wright said it’s hard to sell original music now.
“The thing with the tribute band is it’s popular now,” Wright said. “This was a quick way to get up on the stage.”
Being on that stage has its challenges, though, since imitating Grohl musically can be hard. Rich said getting the screams down can be difficult—even for Grohl, who has been left hoarse before.
“I do all the screams,” Rich said. “It’s very taxing.”
Rich, too, notes they have spent hours and hours breaking down Foo Fighters songs to successfully replicate them. Authentically mimicking how Foo Fighters sound live is crucial to Fooz Fighters since they’re not merely aiming for just the album sound.
Fooz Fighters members study live footage from Foo Fighters to achieve this and have seen the band in concert several times, Wright said.
“We want to be that whole Foo Fighters experience,” Wright said.
One difference between Foo Fighters and Fooz Fighters is the latter will go to places the former doesn’t go, such as Boise—where they’ll be starting their tour soon—and San Juan Capistrano for The Coach House show.
The Feb. 19 gig will be their first time at The Coach House and one in which Blink-182 tribute band Blink 180-True will also perform.
Rich played the San Juan spot a long time ago in a different capacity and would love to keep doing so on a regular basis.
Fans can expect a real Foo Fighters experience that night with actual amps and the whole live music works, Rich said.
“We’re not smoke and mirrors,” he said. “I can’t wait for the show and to meet some new friends.”