Kurt Cobain once said all Nirvana drummers before Dave Grohl “sucked”
The weekends, so normally filled with anticipation around the excitement around the live music show you’re planning to witness later that evening, has been replaced by an anxiety-inducing trip to the local off-license with a face mask and a socially distanced conversation. While music venues continue to struggle with the demands of the health crisis, as fans we are forced to look for alternative sources of entertainment. Here, we’re looking back through the archives in the Far Out vault.
A little while ago, a rare interview with Nirvana’s late and great frontman Kurt Cobain surfaced, one in which the grunge pioneer heaped praise on drummer Dave Grohl. Grohl, who joined Nirvana in 1990 and replaced Chad Channing, enjoyed major mainstream success with the band who had previously seen Aaron Burckhard, Dale Crover and Dave Foster on the drums.
On reflection, Dave Grohl may well be one of modern rock’s greatest frontmen, taking Foo Fighters to stadium-sized success as well as worldwide recognition. That said, his career got a major jump-start in the early ’90s when he got his lucky break to sit behind the drum kit alongside Cobain and Kurt Novoselic in Nirvana. It was a move that rescued the band as much as it rescued him.
Finding the perfect drummer was a quest that Novoselic and Cobain found themselves on ever since they moved to Tacoma and Olympia respectively to form Nirvana. They initially practised with Dale Crover of the Melvins who played on their first demos but he then moved to San Francisco and appointed his friend Dave Foster as his replacement. However, Foster’s tenure with the band would be unfruitful and he would leave the group after a short few months—but at least he still gets to tell people today that he used to be in Nirvana, albeit momentarily.
Desperate for some stability, it would be a mutual friend who introduced them to drummer Chad Channing and, after a short back and forth, the three musicians agreed to jam together. That said, he was never formally asked to join the band but played his first show in May 1988. Following the somewhat heady success of Bleach, they began work on their sophomore effort in April 1990. With a clear determination, Cobain and Novoselic quickly became disenchanted with Channing’s limited drumming capabilities which they thought was hampering the band. Channing was equally frustrated at his bandmates for not letting him be involved in the songwriting process and he soon left the band by ‘mutual consent’.
Meanwhile, as chance would have it, Dave Grohl’s band Scream had suddenly split up and he called his friend Buzz Osbourne for advice about what to do next. Buzz knew Nirvana needed a drummer so made the call and Grohl was given the opportunity to audition and the rest, as they say, is history. Grohl would become the mainstay of the band, solidifying the group’s presence at the top of rock and roll.
While his influence often goes somewhat under the radar, a rare interview with Cobain was unearthed by Studio Brussels, a radio station in Belgium which took place in Ghent during November 1991. In the interview, Cobain says: “Krist [Novoselic] and I have been playing together for about four and a half years now with a few different drummers,” Cobain says in the interview. “Dave has been in the band for about a year. This is the first time we’ve felt like a very definite unit.
“The band is finally complete because all the other drummers we had pretty much sucked.”