Dave Grohl joined Matt Wilkinson on Apple Music for a conversation about the time period from his early days in Nirvana through the release of the first Foo Fighters album.
The interview airs on Saturday (July 4), exactly 25 years after the Foo Fighters’ debut, self-titled album arrived (on July 4, 1995).
Grohl admitted that when he joined Nirvana and they became “really huge really quickly,” he was still insecure that he wasn’t quite good enough for the band.
“Well I mean I joined Nirvana, I was their fifth drummer, right?” he said. “They’d had a team of drummers before me and some of them were more, I don’t know, more in the band than others. So when I joined the band, I didn’t know Krist and Kurt at all. And when we first met and started playing, it was clear that when we got together to play that it worked really well, and we sounded what most people know now to sound like Nirvana. We sounded like that. But you just meet these people and then it wasn’t long.”
“It was almost exactly a year from the time I joined to the time Nevermind came out. And then once it came out, it was like things happen so quickly. The band got really big. But every band I’d been in before then was with friends that I’d known for a really long time. And so there’s some security in that. So when you join a band where you don’t know anyone and you’re just starting to get to know each other, and it sounds great when you play music, you’re just starting to get to know each other, but there’s not a deep personal connection. And then the band becomes really huge really quickly. You’re just so nervous that you’re going to either get fired or it’s going to stop. I didn’t want to get fired basically. And so I was doing my best to keep this thing from going away. So there was this real insecurity that I had, ‘I’m not good enough. They’re going to find somebody else,'” Grohl explained.
Following Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994, Grohl was in mourning and, for a while, unsure about getting back into music.
“I started getting calls from people to ask if I wanted to play drums with them or join another band, and I just didn’t see that happening at the time,” he said. “And I’d always come home from tours and recorded songs by myself, but that feeling was gone. I didn’t really want to write or even listen to music, much less join a band and play in one. So it was strange, when your life is just pulled out from under you like that. I don’t think anyone really thought much about what came next. You were stuck in that moment. So eventually, I just pulled myself off the couch and thought, ‘Okay, I’ve always loved playing music and I’ve always loved writing and recording songs for myself. So I feel like I need to do that just for myself.”
Looking back on when the Foo Fighters’ first album did come to fruition, Grohl says he’d give credit to his Nirvana bandmates for that happening.
“I would dedicate [that album] to Krist and Kurt because still to this day, the Nirvana experience was probably… I mean I don’t want to say… I have children. I can’t say it’s the most important event in my entire life. But it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t be here right now talking about this if it weren’t for my time in Nirvana. And I had learned so many lessons from Kurt, I learned so many lessons from Krist. It was such an honor to be in that band and it was so devastating when it ended. But we have that catalogue of music that we made together and that experience changed not only us, but a lot of the world that we lived in. So I think that that was probably my life’s most formative period. I went from being a messy teen to then being in this band that was huge. And then it all ending and trying to build life again with the lessons that I had learned through all of that,” he said.
Grohl continued: “There’s some journalists that are just like, ‘How dare you played music after Nirvana.’ I’m like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ We tried really hard to do it right. Instead of jumping on a tour opening up for some massive arena band at the time, we thought, ‘Okay, well let’s get in the van and let’s do it like we’ve always done it. Let’s start the way we always started,’ and that felt comfortable to us. And in doing any promotion or press, we didn’t make a video right out of the gate, we tried to temper all of that stuff because it was scary in a way. I knew that I was walking the plank on this. I knew that I was going to be scrutinized and I knew that there was going to be comparisons and things like that. And yeah, I mean it was tough. But it wasn’t that tough. I mean it was like if someone gave you shit, you just say, “F— you, motherf—er.”