Behind the trend in tribute bands: An interview with San Diego’s Fooz Fighters.

San Diego is home to an impressive arsenal of tribute bands ranging from wartime boogie-woogie oldies to Top Forty’s and everything in between. Although many tribute bands in the San Diego area have struggled to reach audience popularity and success, one particular up-and-coming tribute band is trail-blazing their way to the top. In just under two short years since uniting, the Fooz Fighters are still the only Foo Fighters tribute band in Southern California and they are really making their mark!

I had the pleasure of meeting up with key members of the band for a fun filled interview in the open atmosphere of the Rough Draft Brewery in Mira Mesa, to talk about their journey and goals for this popular band. The Fooz Fighters is made up of an eclectic and solid group of musicians including guitarist Don Hickey; a seasoned, national touring musician who trained with an extraordinary compilation of big name musicians, as well as taught several other big names in the industry. Guitarist Brent Wright came from a musical family, has played in several different bands and studied music with Don. Nicky Rich also grew up in a large musical family with a piano in the house and guitars during the hippy generation. Nick brings decades of singing and performing to this project. On bass guitar we have Sammy Burke and Mario Garduno on drums.

How It Began

In 2014, Brent and Don were in one of several Stone Temple Pilot tribute bands in San Diego that wasn’t progressing. Frustrated, the two of them began discussing other bands they could start, researching their options and finally coming up with a Foo Fighters tribute idea.

“What really made it all come together wasn’t really Don and I, it was Nick,” Brent explained as he revisited the forming of the tribute band, “Nick sang beautifully,” he recalled as he tried to imagine at that time if Nick could transform into a Dave Grohl look-alike. Amazingly enough, Nick has meticulously made that transformation.

Friends, family and fans are astonished at Nick’s resemblance to Grohl. He even included the feather tattoos on his forearms. I then asked what inspired him to take on the look to that level.

“You know, if I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna go all out,“ Nick said, “what inspired me was the draw that this [band] could actually be something big. They’ve [the original Foo Fighters] been playing a long time. You get tired, the ears burn up after a while so I actually think there could be a balance- or we could take on some of their load for the fans who want to see the band. I’d like to think we could provide that for them.” Nick then added, “The tattoos are a huge deal, you know, but I’d go further than that to be successful at this. I’d do anything.”

I asked about their challenges as a tribute band and what advice they could give others who want to start a tribute band. They all agreed when Don said, “Looking and sounding like the artist you’re trying to pay tribute to is the most challenging part of being in a tribute band.” And what advice would you give to someone who wants to start a tribute band? Brent added, “The most important thing is to pick the right band.”

I agree. If you pick a band with only three hits, how far is that band going to go?

The Fooz Fighters have the formula to succeed. They are dedicated and committed. They play well. They are high energy. Don Hickey is the music and Brent Wright is the business behind the Fooz machine. Since their debut show at the Jumping Turtle on April 3, 2015, the Fooz have played over 50 shows all over southern California including The Viper Room in Los Angeles, venturing into Las Vegas, Scottsdale, Atlantic City and Long Island. Success to this rising tribute band is to have fun and travel internationally; touring Australia, Europe, Japan, Mexico, and South American regions, to name a few. Their ultimate dream is to have the original members of the Foo Fighters join in and play with them! If you ever miss going to a Foo Fighters show, these five, hardworking musicians are ready to rock your world with the authentic Foo’s sound! You can check out their tour schedule at www.foozfighters.com/tour/.

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