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Cable TV’s newest Fooz fight

“I’m just some schmoe who’s going to be picking up dog poop”

Fooz Fighters: the schmoes must go on.
Fooz Fighters: the schmoes must go on.

“Him [Jimmy Fallon] and [Foo Fighters frontman] Dave Grohl are good friends, so I think they looked around and tried to find Foo Fighters tribute bands, and it was slim pickings,” says Fooz Fighters guitarist Dave Tishenkel. His group recently appeared on the Fallon-produced Clash of the Cover Bands series that aired its first season on the E! Network. “I’d have to apologize to all my friends in New York if they [the TV show producers] had to send us to a movement coach and teach us to rock out.”

The program’s premise was originally under wraps, so the band’s attempt to figure out exactly what they were being interviewed for was a slow process that teased their curiosity. “We thought, you know, these tribute things are usually hokey in these competitions. Just somebody exploiting people to get people to their venue, or something like that. But they kept giving us more information, then asking us for more Zoom calls and more interviews. Then they said, ‘Hey, you guys are in. You have to come out to Hollywood this week.’ They did hair and makeup. It’s basically American Idol-type bands, and then it starts, it’s real bands playing real music.”

Celebrity judges for the competition included Meghan Trainor and Mount Carmel graduate Adam Lambert, who gave the group a standing ovation. One episode pitted the Fooz against Blank 281, who pay tribute to Poway’s Blink-182. In the end, Tishenkel’s band won the Best ‘90s Rock Band round, and made it as far as the finals. The Clash of the Cover Bands winner was a Dolly Parton tribute, which earned a $25,000 award.

Given the deep dive that some tribute band members go into, I said I was surprised that a Hole tribute featuring a faux Courtney Love hasn’t attacked the Fooz. “No, that hasn’t happened,” says Tishenkel. “It could be interesting, though. Or if a Nirvana tribute somehow played out the whole marriage thing.” But unlike some tribute bands, the Fooz don’t immerse themselves in their alter egos — speaking in accents and performing shows in character. Aside from lead vocalist Nicky Rich’s passing resemblance to Dave Grohl, and the Ace Frehley sticker on guitarist Brent Wright’s axe (a la Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters), there are no visual synchronizations. “Nobody’s gonna mistake me for Pat Smear,” Tishenkel laughs. “We just really like playing the music. What’s the difference between seeing a cover band do a bunch of other people’s songs and focusing on one band, really?”

So how does a tribute band get work when their inspiration is still active? “I think a lot of times we get booked in places where the Foo Fighters don’t necessarily play, and it’s a huge draw for them. I’ve played the House of Blues in San Diego, and when that’s packed, that is massive and fun and just so much energy. Then you go play the House of Blues in Houston, and it’s ten times that. It seems like there’s almost 10,000 people in that place. And then when you’re done, you do meet and greets, and I’m like, ‘Wait, I don’t understand, I’m just some schmoe who’s going to be picking up dog poop in his backyard tomorrow.’”

Past Event

Badfish: a Tribute to Sublime

  • Thursday, January 6, 2022, 7:30 p.m.
  • House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Avenue, San Diego
  • 18+ / $20 - $65

Once they get done walking their dogs, the Fooz Fighters will play downtown’s House of Blues on Thursday, January 6, along with Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime.

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Fooz Fighters: the schmoes must go on.
Fooz Fighters: the schmoes must go on.

“Him [Jimmy Fallon] and [Foo Fighters frontman] Dave Grohl are good friends, so I think they looked around and tried to find Foo Fighters tribute bands, and it was slim pickings,” says Fooz Fighters guitarist Dave Tishenkel. His group recently appeared on the Fallon-produced Clash of the Cover Bands series that aired its first season on the E! Network. “I’d have to apologize to all my friends in New York if they [the TV show producers] had to send us to a movement coach and teach us to rock out.”

The program’s premise was originally under wraps, so the band’s attempt to figure out exactly what they were being interviewed for was a slow process that teased their curiosity. “We thought, you know, these tribute things are usually hokey in these competitions. Just somebody exploiting people to get people to their venue, or something like that. But they kept giving us more information, then asking us for more Zoom calls and more interviews. Then they said, ‘Hey, you guys are in. You have to come out to Hollywood this week.’ They did hair and makeup. It’s basically American Idol-type bands, and then it starts, it’s real bands playing real music.”

Celebrity judges for the competition included Meghan Trainor and Mount Carmel graduate Adam Lambert, who gave the group a standing ovation. One episode pitted the Fooz against Blank 281, who pay tribute to Poway’s Blink-182. In the end, Tishenkel’s band won the Best ‘90s Rock Band round, and made it as far as the finals. The Clash of the Cover Bands winner was a Dolly Parton tribute, which earned a $25,000 award.

Given the deep dive that some tribute band members go into, I said I was surprised that a Hole tribute featuring a faux Courtney Love hasn’t attacked the Fooz. “No, that hasn’t happened,” says Tishenkel. “It could be interesting, though. Or if a Nirvana tribute somehow played out the whole marriage thing.” But unlike some tribute bands, the Fooz don’t immerse themselves in their alter egos — speaking in accents and performing shows in character. Aside from lead vocalist Nicky Rich’s passing resemblance to Dave Grohl, and the Ace Frehley sticker on guitarist Brent Wright’s axe (a la Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters), there are no visual synchronizations. “Nobody’s gonna mistake me for Pat Smear,” Tishenkel laughs. “We just really like playing the music. What’s the difference between seeing a cover band do a bunch of other people’s songs and focusing on one band, really?”

So how does a tribute band get work when their inspiration is still active? “I think a lot of times we get booked in places where the Foo Fighters don’t necessarily play, and it’s a huge draw for them. I’ve played the House of Blues in San Diego, and when that’s packed, that is massive and fun and just so much energy. Then you go play the House of Blues in Houston, and it’s ten times that. It seems like there’s almost 10,000 people in that place. And then when you’re done, you do meet and greets, and I’m like, ‘Wait, I don’t understand, I’m just some schmoe who’s going to be picking up dog poop in his backyard tomorrow.’”

Past Event

Badfish: a Tribute to Sublime

  • Thursday, January 6, 2022, 7:30 p.m.
  • House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Avenue, San Diego
  • 18+ / $20 - $65

Once they get done walking their dogs, the Fooz Fighters will play downtown’s House of Blues on Thursday, January 6, along with Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime.

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