After a tense, hard working couple of months in Seattle recording material for the second Foo Fighters studio album the band had taken a break over Christmas of 1996 to recollect their thoughts, have some time off and planned to re-convene in the new year. According to Grohl the time at Bear Creek was "a bad experience" and he felt they went in to record too soon after touring of the previous album was complete.
The studio was also expensive to use and so when coming back to the recordings in February 1997 operations moved to a smaller, cheaper studio in Hollywood. Grandmaster Recorders, a former silent movie theatre located just off Sunset Boulevard had been used in the past by artists such as David Bowie and Red Hot Chili Peppers and according to Mendel "occasionally moonlighted as a porn set" and "looked the part".
Initially only Dave Grohl and producer Gil Norton were at the studio, Grohl showing him the two new songs that he had recorded in D.C. during the break. "It wasn't a surprise to me when Dave came back from Virginia with two good new songs" recalled Norton. According to Norton one of the two songs, 'Everlong', was the catalyst that "brought the whole album together".
With the two new songs given the thumbs up by Norton the pair then turned their attention to the recordings from the Bear Creek session and in particular, William Goldsmith's drumming. Norton had made it clear he was less than impressed with Goldsmith's work and having heard Grohl playing drums on the two new songs asked him to carry out a 'test', recording a new drum track for 'Monkey Wrench'.
According to Norton the result was "ten times better" than Goldsmith's take from Bear Creek and soon the rest of the tracks came under scrutiny. Nate and Pat were called to join Grohl and Norton at the studio but Goldsmith was not summoned, remaining more than 1,000 miles away at home in Seattle.
The three band members began re-recording the songs they'd already worked on in Seattle and quickly Mendel became suspicious - what was really going on and why Goldsmith was not there? "Dave comes in, he's like, 'Listen, we're gonna redo 'My Poor Brain' or whatever the song is. Drum track's not quite right. Actually, I'm doing the drums on this one. We're just gonna redo it." recalled Mendel. Smear had similar concerns, noticing that he kept getting called to record guitar parts on songs he had already tracked and that more and more songs were being "done over".
Eventually it dawned on the pair that the whole album was essentially being re-recorded, without William Goldsmith. Concerned Mendel called Goldsmith, telling him they were at the studio and an equally concerned Goldsmith wanted answers. "I was like, what's going on? Should I book a flight? I should be down there". Grohl called him to explain the situation and according to Goldsmith told him that he was re-doing "a couple of drum tracks" and had told him not to come to the studio.
Taken aback and curious what was really going on he arranged to meet up with Mendel who revealed what the true situation was. "What's going on, Dave's redoing a couple of the tracks?" asked Goldsmith. "Is that what he told you? He re-did them all" was Mendel's response.
Goldsmith, unimpressed with what had gone on behind his back called Grohl who explained that whilst he still wanted him to stay in the band he had indeed re-recorded all of the drum tracks. Goldsmith however turned down the offer to stay in the band, clearly hurt by this turn of events. "As it is now I have to rebuild my soul, or refind it if you know what I mean" he told Grohl. "So thanks, but no thanks". Goldsmith officially quit the band in March 1997, announced to the press soon after.
Despite over a decade passing since the incident during interviews conducted for the 2011 documentary Back And Forth Goldsmith suggested he still hadn't received what he considered a true explanation for what went on. "I don't know whether it was management, the record company, Gil, all of the above, Dave, that wanted him to play drums and didn't want me to play drums but him redoing the drum parts has never been explained to me" he claimed.
In the documentary Grohl also spoke of the difficult times. "It's a tough thing to talk about because I know that William will never forgive me for playing drums on that record" he explained, adding "I wish things were different. But I felt like this is what I had to do in order to make this album happen". Grohl, Mendel and Smear continued recording without the now departed Goldsmith including recording a new version of 'Everlong', one of two tracks written and recorded by Grohl during the holiday break.
As the record was close to release and the band began taking part in promotional interviews the inevitable questions regarding Goldsmith's work on the album and his subsequent departure cropped up. "William did a few songs. He's on two songs on the record" Grohl told one interviewer and when pressed for what happened gave a somewhat abridged version of events. "Okay, we had toured for a year and half and we were all exhausted. We didn't have much time off before we went into the studio. We got into the studio, in Seattle, and it was an expensive place. We were really under the gun, there was a lot of pressure to produce and have the album out soon" he explained.
Grohl then got onto the subject of Goldsmith himself. "William decided he didn't want to go on tour, and he wanted to play with different people. There's no serious animosity, but it sucks" he claimed. "Some songs were changed. I played drums on stuff. We kept some stuff from Seattle. And that's about it" said Grohl, summing up.
The vast majority of 'The Colour And The Shape' came from this recording session, the only exceptions being 'Doll', 'Up In Arms', 'See You' and 'My Poor Brain'. The details of which parts of these songs came from the earlier Bear Creek session can be found here in that entry.