Although Dave Grohl has been a member of Foo Fighters for almost 30 years, he is still most commonly associated with Nirvana, but Grohl believes there is a “misconception” regarding his time with the group.
Grohl had no idea about the crazy journey he was about to take flight on over the next four years when he joined Nirvana in 1990. While he knew the band had incredible chemistry from their first rehearsal, it was unprecedented for a grunge outfit to enjoy success on such a mainstream scale, and he was wholly unprepared for what lay on the horizon.
During his time in Nirvana, Grohl suffered the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in what proved to be a life-changing period. However, the drummer believes that his struggles in Nirvana have been grossly overstated, and for the most part, it was magnificent.
Alongside Kurt Cobain and Kurt Novoselic, he placed grunge on the map. Grohl knows that Foo Fighters wouldn’t have had the foundation to become stadium-filling giants without his previous band’s success, and Nirvana will always be a significant part of him.
“Nirvana, for me, was a personal revolution,” Grohl told GQ in 2018. “I was 21. You remember being 21? You think you know it all. But you don’t. I thought I knew everything. And being in Nirvana showed me how little I really knew. They were some of the greatest highs of my life, but also, of course, one of the biggest lows. Those experiences became a footing or a foundation on how to survive.”
The death of Cobain left an immovable scar on Grohl that will never dissipate, and the long road which led up to that devastating moment was difficult for all of the band. Yet, Grohl believes too much of the story surrounding the three-piece is about the tragedy rather than providing a complete, nuanced picture of Nirvana.
In the same interview, Grohl admitted part of his time in the group “was a bummer” but maintained that “it wasn’t always a bummer”. He claimed this was the “biggest misconception” about his time with Nirvana.
He continued: “There were times when it was so outrageously hilarious and fun. Kurt had an amazing sense of humour, and Krist Novoselic, if you’ve ever spent time with him, is one of the funniest people you’ve ever met.”
Grohl described being a member of Nirvana as “living in a loud, distorted version of Monty Python – when it gets dark it gets fucking dark,” which goes against the band’s image. On reflection, it’s comforting to hear Grohl speak so positively about his time in Nirvana, providing a glimpse behind the curtain of what it was honestly like for him in the group to reveal it wasn’t as grey as people commonly suspect.
Watch the footage below of Nirvana showing off their lighter side when they deliberately decided to butcher ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on Top Of The Pops.