For this week’s cover story, Marko DeSantis put down his guitar and picked up the laptop to profile his longtime friend Chris Shiflett, the Santa Barbara–raised member of the Foo Fighters who was just inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Today, DeSantis lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids, teaching music business and songwriting while also working on a retrospective 20th anniversary edition of Sugarcult’s debut, Start Static; a Bad Astronaut vinyl box set; and an upcoming collection of long-lost recordings by his ‘90s band Popsicko.
What’s your first memory of Chris? We kinda started out as cross-town rivals. I’d see him at shows and record stores with his long hair and wild outfits and wonder, “Who is this other weirdo kid who likes obscure music like me?” Then we connected through some mutual pals at a party — after a WASP concert! I had a band called illiterate, and he asked me if he could steal our bassist for his band Lost Kittenz. I refused, but said I’d switch to bass and join instead! So I did, and we played together for a few years and have been great friends ever since.
How did your career paths intertwine? We both share day-is-darkest-before-dawn career stories. In 1999, we both arrived at a similar crossroads after having been in a few smaller bands — randomly, our two bands toured Europe together in 1997, which was both of our first times touring over there. He confided in me that he might be hanging up his rock ’n’ roll cleats. I was experiencing a similar existential crisis, after a few years of false dead-end bands. A few months later, I joined up with what would become Sugarcult, and he got the Foo Fighters gig!
If you could play any song with him in front of a massive crowd, what would it be? One of these days, me and the other Lost Kittenz dudes (Double Cobra frontman Luke Tierney, and Nerf Herder drummer Steve Sherlock) are gonna hit a Foo Fighters stadium show and slip Dave Grohl a $20 bribe (I’m sure he could use the money!) to let us join Chris onstage to do a song from our teenage years! I can’t wait to see the looks on thousands of Foo fans’ faces when we bust out an old banger like “Noise Chamber” or “Trash Hotel”!
What about around a campfire? As far as a campfire sing-alongs, that’s gotta be “West Coast Town,” Chris’s song about growing up here in Santa Barbara. In fact, I can just about guarantee we’ll be storming the stage at his SOhO show next month to sit in for that one … you should come and join in as well!