Over the next several years, Grohl played in several local bands, including a stint on guitar in a band called Freak Baby. At the same time, he had been teaching himself to play drums by banging on various items in his bedroom. When Freak Baby kicked out its bass player, Grohl decided to switch to drums, and the new band called themselves Mission Impossible. He later joined a hardcore/post-punk band called Dain Bramage. During his developing years as a drummer, Grohl cited John Bonham as his greatest influence, and eventually had Bonham's three-circle logo tattooed on his wrist.
At the age of seventeen, Grohl auditioned for the Washington D.C. punk band Scream to fill the spot of departed drummer Kent Stax. In order to audition, Grohl had lied about his age and had claimed that he was 20. After auditioning, the band asked him if he would like to join. Grohl accepted their offer. Grohl dropped out of high school in his junior year and for the next four years toured extensively with the band. Grohl played on two studio albums, No More Censorship and Fumble.
While playing in Scream, Grohl became a fan of the band The Melvins and eventually befriended the band. During a 1990 tour stop on the West Coast, The Melvins' vocalist and guitarist Buzz Osborne took Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, to see the band.
Nirvana EditA few months later, Scream unexpectedly disbanded following the departure of its bass player, and Grohl placed a phone call to Osborne for advice. Knowing how much Cobain and Novoselic liked Grohl's drumming, Osborne gave Novoselic's phone number to Grohl. Novoselic invited Grohl up to Seattle, where Grohl attended Nirvana's infamous show at the Motor Sports Garage, the one Nirvana show that featured Dan Peters on drums. (Grohl admitted to Rolling Stone in 2005 that he spent most of Nirvana's set outside talking to a friend.) Grohl subsequently auditioned for the band, and soon joined the band full-time.
At the time that Grohl joined Nirvana, the band had already recorded several demos for what would be the follow-up to their debut album Bleach, having spent time recording with producer Butch Vig in Madison, Wisconsin. Initially, the plans were to release the album on Sub Pop, but the band found itself receiving a great deal of major label interest based on the demos. Grohl spent the initial months with Nirvana travelling to various major labels as the band shopped for a deal, eventually signing with DGC Records. In the spring of 1991, the band entered the studio to record the album.
Upon its release, Nevermind exceeded all expectations and became a massive success, catapulting the band to worldwide stardom. At the same time, Grohl found himself fighting with his status in the band. While his drumming style was a significant element in the band's success, Grohl saw himself as just another in a long line of drummers. In his mind, Nirvana was the band that recorded Bleach; his arrival had altered that sound dramatically, and, as he saw it, not necessarily in a positive way. Though Grohl had been writing songs for several years, he declined to introduce his songs to the band for fear of damaging the band's chemistry. Instead, Grohl compiled his songs and recorded them himself, releasing a cassette called Pocketwatch in 1992 on indie label Simple Machines. Rather than using his own name, Grohl released the cassette under the pseudonym "Late!".
In the later years of Nirvana, Grohl's songwriting contributions increased. In Grohl's initial months in Seattle, Cobain overheard him working on a song called "Color Pictures of a Marigold", and the two ended up jamming on it. Grohl would later record the song for the Pocketwatch cassette. During the sessions for In Utero, he decided to re-record the song, and the band released this version as a b-side on the "Heart-Shaped Box" single, titled simply "Marigold". Earlier, as the band worked on new material for In Utero, Grohl contributed the main guitar riff for what ended up becoming "Scentless Apprentice". Cobain conceded in a late 1993 MTV interview that he initially thought the riff was "kind of boneheaded", but was gratified at how the song developed (a process captured in part in a demo on the Nirvana box set With the Lights Out). Cobain noted that he was excited at the possibility of having Novoselic and Grohl contribute more to the band's songwriting.
Prior to their 1994 European tour, the band decided to schedule session time at Robert Lang Studios in Seattle to work on demos. For most of the three-day session, Cobain was absent, so Novoselic and Grohl worked on demos of their own songs. The duo completed several of Grohl's, including future Foo Fighters songs "Exhausted", "Big Me", "February Stars", and "Butterflies". On the third day of the session, Cobain finally arrived, and the band recorded a demo of a song later named "You Know You're Right". It was the band's final studio recording.
After Nirvana/Foo Fighters Edit
After Cobain's suicide in 1994, the remaining members of Nirvana broke up, and Grohl retreated, unsure of where to go and what to do with himself. In October of 1994, Grohl scheduled studio time, again at Robert Lang's Studio, and quickly recorded a fifteen-track demo. With the exception of a single guitar part on "X-Static" played by Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs, Grohl performed all of the instruments himself.
At the same time, Grohl wondered if his future might be in drumming for other bands. In November, Grohl took a brief turn with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, including a memorable performance on Saturday Night Live. Petty asked him to join permanently, but Grohl realized that his future lay elsewhere. Grohl's name was also rumored as a possible replacement for Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese, and Grohl even performed with the band for a song or two at three shows during Pearl Jam's March 1995 Australian tour. However, by then, Pearl Jam had already settled on Jack Irons, and Grohl had other plans in the works.
After passing the demo around, Grohl found himself with considerable major label interest. Nirvana's A&R rep Gary Gersh had subsequently taken over as President of Capitol Records and lured Grohl to sign with the label. Grohl did not want the effort to be considered the start of a solo career so he recruited other band members: former Nirvana touring guitarist Pat Smear, and two members of the band Sunny Day Real Estate, William Goldsmith (drums) and Nate Mendel (bass). Rather than re-record the album, Grohl's demo was given a professional mix by Rob Schnapf and Tom Rothrock and was released in July of 1995 as the Foo Fighters' debut album.
At the end of 1995, the Foo Fighters were asked to contribute a song to the soundtrack to the television show The X-Files. During a break between tours, the band entered the studio and recorded a cover of Gary Numan's "Down in the Park". In February of 1996, Grohl and his then-wife Jennifer Youngblood made a brief cameo appearance on the X-Files third season episode "Pusher". (The two can be spotted entering the FBI building, with Grohl pausing to look at his watch.)
After touring for the self-titled album for more than a year, Grohl returned home and began work on the soundtrack to the 1997 movie Touch. Grohl performed all of the instruments and vocals himself, save for vocals from Veruca Salt singer Louise Post on the title track, and vocals and guitar by X's John Doe on "This Loving Thing (Lynn's Song)". Grohl completed the recording in two weeks, and immediately joined the Foo Fighters to work on their follow-up.
In the midst of the initial sessions for the Foo Fighters' second album, tension emerged between Grohl and Goldsmith. Grohl felt that Goldsmith's efforts weren't as strong as they needed to be, and opted to re-record some of Goldsmith's drum parts himself. Goldsmith, who found himself battling carpal tunnel syndrome from years of pounding the drums, was upset by Grohl's action, and quit the band. (In subsequent interviews, Grohl conceded that the band may have moved into the studio too quickly after the lengthy touring for the debut.) Grohl and the rest of the band decided to scrap the Seattle sessions and start over in Los Angeles with Grohl behind the kit.
The effort was released in May of 1997 as the band's second album, The Colour and the Shape, which eventually cemented the Foo Fighters as a staple of rock radio. The album spawned several hits, including "Everlong", "My Hero", "Walking After You", and "Monkey Wrench". Just prior to the album's release, former Alanis Morissette drummer Taylor Hawkins joined the band on drums. The following September, Smear left the band, citing a need to settle down following a lifetime of touring. Smear was subsequently replaced by Grohl's former Scream bandmate Franz Stahl. (Stahl departed the band prior to recording of the Foo's third album and was replaced by touring guitarist Chris Shiflett, who later became a full-fledged member during the recording of One by One.)
Grohl's life of non-stop touring and travel continued with the Foo Fighters' popularity. During his infrequent pauses he lived in Seattle and Los Angeles before returning to his native Springfield, Virginia. It was there that he turned his basement into a recording studio where the 1999 album There Is Nothing Left to Lose was recorded.
In 2000, the band recruited Queen guitarist Brian May to add some guitar flourish to a cover of Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar", a song which the Foo Fighters previously recorded as a b-side. The friendship between the two bands resulted in Grohl and Taylor Hawkins being asked to induct Queen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Grohl and Hawkins joined May and Queen drummer Roger Taylor to perform "Tie Your Mother Down", with Grohl standing in on vocals for the late Freddie Mercury. (May later contributed guitar work for the song "Tired of You" on the ensuing Foo Fighters album, as well as on an unreleased Foo Fighters song called "Knucklehead".) Near the end of 2001, the Foo Fighters returned to the studio to work on their fourth album. After four months in the studio, with the sessions "finished", Grohl accepted an invitation to join Queens of the Stone Age and helped them to record their 2002 album Songs for the Deaf. (Grohl can be seen drumming for the band in the video for the song "No One Knows".) After a brief US tour with the band and feeling rejuvenated by the effort, Grohl recalled the other Foo Fighters to completely re-record their album at his studio in Virginia. The effort became their fourth album, One by One. While initially pleased with the results, in another 2005 Rolling Stone interview, Dave Grohl admitted to not liking the record: "Four of the songs were good, and the other seven I never played again in my life. We rushed into it, and we rushed out of it."
Grohl and the Foo Fighters released their fifth album In Your Honor on June 14, 2005. Prior to starting work on the album, the band spent almost a year relocating Grohl's home-based Virginia studio to a brand new facility, dubbed Studio 606, located in a warehouse near Los Angeles. Featuring collaborations with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and Norah Jones, the album was a departure from previous efforts, and included one rock and one acoustic disc.
The Foo Fighters next release was Skin and Bones, a live album which included recordings from their 2006 acoustic tour.
Later, the band decided to record a new studio album which included both acoustic, calm songs and the typical heavy rock Foo Fighters sound. The album was named Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, released in 2007. This album contains the band's only instrumental song, called Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners, dedicated to 2 miners traped in Australia, who asked for an mp3 containing Foo Fighters In your Honor. Grohl promised a talk and some beer to both miners but only one of them accepted. The album also contains one of the Foo Fighters greatest hits, The Pretender which had first place for 8 consecutive weeks at the top 100 billboard hot modern rock tracks. The band then announced a periodic stop, which lasted 4 years until their newest album.
Their seventh studio album, Wasting Light, was released on April 12th 2011. The album was recorded with Nevermind producer Butch Vig. The album was recorded in Grohl's garage and the band avoided using digital recording equipment, and instead used analog equipment. Pat Smear makes his first official appearance with the band since leaving in 1997. Wasting Light was the first Foo Fighters album to reach No. 1 in the United States. Despite rumors of a hiatus, Grohl confirmed in January 2013 that the band had finished writing material for their follow-up to Wasting Light.
Their latest studio album, Sonic Highways, is set to be released on November 10th 2014, along with an 8-part television series airing on October 10th 2014.
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