It’s hard to believe, but Dave Grohl turns 45 today (Jan. 14). Regardless of age, the former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters singer is eternally youthful in our eyes.
Grohl’s journey is a fascinating one. After hitting the big time in the early ‘90s with Seattle-based Nirvana, his band came to a grinding halt with the death of lead singer Kurt Cobain. Grohl, known for drumming at the time, took a risk: Instead of continuing as a drummer, he decided to front his own band. Now, that group – Foo Fighters – is one of the most successful rock bands of its era.
From the early days of Nirvana to Foo Fighters to Them Crooked Vultures, here are some choice quotes from Grohl about the past 45 years of his musical life.
On late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, as told to Rolling Stone :
“Every band I had ever been in, up until that point, had been a band of friends that either got together to make music or we all became a close family out on the road. Nirvana was a little different. Living with Kurt was funny. He isolated himself in a lot of ways, emotionally. But he had a genuine, sweet nature. He never intentionally made you feel uncomfortable. Living with him in that tiny apartment in Olympia, Washington, there was some sort of bond. But it was much different than his relationship with Krist.”
On the difference between recording Nevermind and In Utero, as told to NPR :
“Well, you know, it’s one of the great things about recording in different places with different people, is that you get to experience their technique or their sound, and recording with [producer] Butch [Vig on Nevermind] was a lot different than Steve. With Butch, we would do multiple takes and we would try and get things to sound the way we would like, really craft these things, whereas with Steve, I swear, we’d do one take and he’d hit stop and say, ‘OK, what’s next?’”
On how to listen to Nirvana’s third studio album, In Utero, as told to Rolling Stone :
“The album should be listened to as it was the day it came out. That’s my problem with the record. I used to like to listen to it. And I don’t anymore, because of (Kurt Cobain’s suicide). To me, if you listen to it without thinking of Kurt dying, you might get the original intention of the record. Like my kids. They know I was in Nirvana. They know Kurt was killed. I haven’t told them that he killed himself. They’re four and seven years old. So when they listen to In Utero, they’ll have that fresh perspective – the original intention of the album, as a first-time listener. Someday they will learn what happened. And it’ll change that. It did for me.”
On the decision to start Foo Fighters following the death of Kurt Cobain, as told to The Telegraph :
“I felt like, Man, I’m not done, I want to play music. I don’t know if I want to be a drummer any more, it reminds me of Nirvana, so I’ll try this.”
On playing with Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones in Them Crooked Vultures, as told to CBS Local :
“It was one of the highlights of my life when John Paul Jones said, ‘Now I’ve been in two great bands.’ That was a huge deal for me!”
On his writing process, as told to MTV News:
“… Every band I have been in has been a collaborative effort. You know, Nirvana used to start rehearsals with the three of us just jamming. For like a half an hour, just noise and freeform crap — and usually it was crap. But sometimes things would come from it, and some songs on Nevermind came from that, and “Heart Shaped Box” and stuff on In Utero just happened that way.”
On Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins slipping into a coma in 2001 after a heroin overdose, as told to The Guardian:
“I’ve seen so many people just lose it all with drugs and die, so I freaked out… When Taylor wound up in hospital I was ready to quit music. Because, to me, it felt like music equaled death. I started praying. I’ve never been to church in my life, and I’m walking back from Taylor’s hospital to our hotel every night, praying out loud in the streets of London. I don’t even know if I believe in God. But I felt like, y’know, this is just not right, y’know, what kind of God would let this…”
Hawkins, thankfully, didn’t die. Today, he’s clean.
On recording Foo Fighters’ latest album, Wasting Light, in his garage, as told to Time Out Chicago :
“Oh yeah, it’s not like it’s some 1950s, Midwestern, John Wayne Gacy garage. It was a little more, um, civilized. Big enough to put a refrigerator full of root beers and a minivan. When we first started doing press, I think people imagined that I would have a Learjet in my garage, you know? Um, yeeeah, it’s actually pretty much just drywall and concrete! But yeah, fortunately it’s still there. For a while there, I thought that Butch Vig was going to use my garage for the rest of his life because it was so much fun making the record. Which I wouldn’t mind if it weren’t for musicians all over the house.”
On the hardest person to track down to appear in his Sound City documentary, as told to the U.K.’s GQ:
“Neil Young. He was the first person to agree to do it and the last person to do his interview - there was a year in between. I eventually just had to fly to Hawaii. Someone said, ‘I’m so sorry he really wants to do it but he’s got the next five days off and you’re going to have to go.’ I flew everyone down with all their gear, talked to him for an hour and a half and the rest of the time I just drank beer in the ocean. So cool - there’s nothing better than having a bottle of beer in your hand in the waves.”