Dave Grohl revealed why Kurt Cobain’s death made him quit drumming for a time before forming Foo Fighters in a new Apple Music ‘Letters to You’ podcast interview with Bruce Springsteen. Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters just performed without original members.
Bruce Springsteen: What was the difference between making that journey with Nirvana and making it with the Foo Fighters?
Dave Grohl: Well, probably just like you, I would imagine, you start playing music when you’re young, because something catches your heart, right? And for me personally, it was the Beatles. And I never imagined that I could be a Beatle. I never imagined that I could be one of the rockstars that I had in my record collection, or on posters on my wall. I just thought, to me, it was this puzzle. There was something about the puzzle of harmony, and composition, and arrangement. And I was obsessed with this idea that multiple instruments could create something emotional, or something that could make you feel. And that’s when I was like, eight or nine years old, and-
Bruce: That’s pretty amazing. Because usually the first thing you do is imagine yourself, either with a broom or tennis racket, in front of your mirror, so you imagine yourself as a rockstar before you know what I’ll have to learn to get there.
Dave: No, I mean, for me, Bruce, if you would’ve seen me then, you’d be like, this kid is never, ever, ever going to make it. I was this skinny, nerdy, suburban Virginia kid, and-
Bruce: Those are the kids that make it.
Dave: Well, I guess that’s what happened. I didn’t peak in high school, I’ll tell you that. So, when I started playing, I fell in love with the underground music scene, the punk rock music scene in America. I discovered, the first time I ever saw a band was at this little dive bar across the street from Wrigley Field, called the Cubby Bear. And I mean, it was a hole in the wall, in the 80s. And I saw this Chicago punk rock band, and then, I had that Ramones moment, where a lot of people saw the Ramones, and they were like, “Oh my God, it’s three chords, man. And the songs are two and a half minutes long.” It’s like, this is not ELO. This is not Genesis. This is real, and this is, yeah. And so, I saw that and I went home to Virginia, tried to convince my friends that is the new thing, and this is the way we should play.
Didn’t really work out, but I started playing in bands, and that type of music, there was no sort of commercial success. It was just like, man, “I got to play this music because it’s what’s in my heart.” But when Nirvana first became popular, Kurt obviously was an incredible songwriter, and he was in touch with himself, and the listener was in touch with what he was singing. But we still functioned like one of those bands driving around in a dirty, old van, playing those dive bars. Really, with no idea that what was to happen was even possible.
I loved playing in a band, but I didn’t think that it would become what it became. And so, it was entirely pure. It was just kids banging on instruments. And then, when Kurt passed away, there was a period where I just didn’t even want to play music, man. Even sitting behind a drum set, broke my heart. And then, I realized that music was the thing that healed me when I was young, so music has to be the thing that’s going to heal me now. And so, that’s when the Foo Fighters began, it was kind of like starting over.