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(Credit: Toby Holzinger)

Music

The story of how Dave Grohl discovered punk rock

It’s fair to say that Dave Grohl has pretty much dominated the world of rock music over the last four decades. As well as being the drummer in one of the biggest bands the world has ever known in the shape of Nirvana, he also fronted the widely heralded Foo Fighters as their singer and guitarist.

Grohl’s critical involvement in the world of rock doesn’t end there, however. He also co-founded the rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and played the drums on Tenacious D’s studio albums, including their self-titled debut in 2001.

Grohl’s career in music really kicked off when he began playing in the Washington D.C. punk outfit, Scream, at the humble age of just 17. Punk music was Grohl’s first musical love, and he once revealed how he first discovered the genre.

“I didn’t have that festival/stadium/arena rock experience; I just saw four punk rock dudes on the stage, playing this fast three-chord music, with about 75 people in the audience climbing all over each other,” said Grohl. “It changed my life. One of the most prolific scenes in hardcore American punk rock was in Washington DC.”

“So I started going to see bands like Minor Threat and Fugazi,” he added. “By the time I was 14, I was cutting and dyeing my hair and wearing leather jackets. All I wanted to do was leave school, jump in a van and tour shitty basement clubs with my punk band.”

Grohl would go on to join Nirvana just before they recorded their world-conquering album Nevermind. Nirvana would go on to sell millions of records, but Grohl’s roots always lay in the underground scene of punk, where the emphasis was on DIY and touring shitty venues. He attributes much of his kinship with the independence of punk to the influence of his mother.

“My mother was a teacher at the high school I went to,” Grohl said. “She spent her career dealing with rebellious little assholes like me. She understood that every child learned differently, and having a difficult time at school doesn’t necessarily mean that a kid can’t learn. So when I hit that stage of rebellion, I just glided through it. My mother was entirely supportive, and she was encouraged by the independence and creativity of the underground punk rock scene.”

“Everybody did everything themselves,” Grohl added. “There were no record companies helping anyone: you just started a band, wrote a song, played a show, got $50, went to the studio, recorded something, pressed your own vinyl and put out your own record. To see your kid that passionate about anything at that age must have been very inspiring. It’s always the things that you most want to do that you do well. Really, all I did was listen to music.”

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