Nirvana Reunion: Dave Speaks!

Kerrang!, October 2018

Following the surviving members of Nirvana's reunion at CalJam in San Bernardino last week, Dave Grohl speaks to Kerrang! in a world exclusive.

After Cal Jam, you couldn't blame Dave Grohl for wanting to take it easy for a minute. But if the 49-year-old has taught us anything over the past three decades, it's that he simply can't and won't leave music alone. Case in point. when we catch up with Foo Fighters' leader just days after Cal Jam, he's already back out on the road "We're playing Denver tonight, but we're not leaving for another couple of hours. We're one of those bands that flies in and goes from the plane to the stage, ' chuckles Dave from his hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, 600 miles away from the evening's gig. Nevertheless, he's still processing the events of Cal Jam - not least because Foo Fighters' Stateside headline tour was actually supposed to emphatically conclude there, until Dave realised that there were several cities left untouched on their Concrete And Gold cycle. "In the last year and a half we've tried to cover as much ground as possible without the fucking wheels coming off," he explains. Though Cal Jam ended up as something of a whirlwind interlude, however, it hasn't taken away from what a moment it was. And, before getting Krist Novoselic's perspective, we find out what it was like for Nirvana's drummer. Well, once hes been interrupted in his room. "Elena, hi! I'm checking out in two hours - thank you!" he smiles politely, before turning back to Kerrangl. "Welcome to my world..."

Dave Grohl, Kerrang! 2018 What's it been like doing this Foos tour after Cal Jam? Has there been a post-festival comedown?
"There was definitely a hangover after Cal Jam - and not in the usual sense, but physically and emotionally. It was such a big undertaking. You spend about a year preparing for it, and when it finally happens it goes by in a flash. But the band and all of our team put a lot into making that happen Once it was over it was a sort of relief, but then also this melancholy. I felt like I was hit by a fucking truck the next day. I was running from stage to stage, and I camped out backstage for three days; I was literally in this RV down by the lake, and I didn't really get any sleep at all. I just ate and drank, partied and listened to every band with all of my friends, and then went onstage and played for two hours, and then jumped on the drums and played for another half an hour, and then stayed up until four o'clock in the morning."

What were the stress levels like on the day, given how much you crammed into proceedings personally?
"Yeah (laughs), it was crazy! But one of the great things about Cal Jam is that it really is a gathering of all our friends. And it was the same last year - we basically invite all of our friends to come and join us at the festival. It really is a celebration of a community of musicians. It's basically a big backyard barbecue that 30,000 people come to. It's a reunion and it's not every day that you get to gather all those people in one place. So I just raced around on a golf cart and tried to catch as much as I could."

And the small matter of that Nirvana set...
"To have Krist and Pat [Smear] and I be able which we to play some Nirvana songs again - which we rarely ever do - was beyond everything else to me. It's a complicated feeling: it's cathartic and sad, but at the same time it's beautiful for lots of reasons. When Pat and Krist and I sat down to go through those songs in a small rehearsal room with concrete walls, it fuckin' sounded like Nirvana. We would look at each other and smile, but the emotions would kind of go in waves, because there was someone missing - and you wish that you could still share those songs with Kurt. For the three of us to revisit them and just let all of that out... There's a lot that comes out. It's more than musical or physical - it's this emotional spiritual release that those songs are filling the room with. It was something special that doesn't come around often. It was amazing. It's hard for me to even imagine how people felt on the other side of the stage. It was just Knst, Pat and I, with Joan and John, within a 10-foot radius blasting these songs into the universe again."

What made Cal Jam the place for the reunion?
It was really by chance. We never had any grand plans to make that happen - it came together four or five days before the show. Krist texted me saying, 'John's gonna be there, do you wanna do some songs? And I was like, 'Yeah.' Once everybody agreed to do it, that's when it ramped up into becoming a reality. But yeah, there wasn't really ever a plan. After we played the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, I considered the idea that, if there was an opportunity, we could do it again. But it's delicate territory, and you can't treat it like just another show. It's very complicated, and very special. In those moments, when it just happens naturally, I think is the best way."

Was there a moment where it hit you, like, 'Holy shit, we're playing Nirvana songs in front of thousands of people again?
"It was probably ...Teen Spirit. The whole thing seemed sort of surreal, and it raced by in a heartbeat and it seemed like a dream. It's not unlike these recurring dreams that I've had for the past 24 years, y'know. I still dream that Nirvana is still a band, and Kurt just appears - like he's been in hiding (laughs). We look at him and go, What the fuck?! Where have you been?' And we've got a gig in an hour, and I get this feeling, like, 'Oh my gosh, I get to play these songs again.' I have that dream at least once or twice a year, and have done for the past 24 years. Getting up to play those songs is like living in that dream. When we rehearsed backstage the day before, the first time we kicked into Breed with Joan Jett was just explosive. It was fucking massive. So the next time we rehearsed, I started inviting my friends, like, 'Come here! Come and watch this. See what it feels like when we bust into ...Teen Spirit.' It was fucking like being shot into outer space. Being able to play that drum fill and break into the chorus... I don't know how to explain it. It's spiritual, physical, emotional - all of that. It's not something that happens often, thats for sure."

So, what's next for Foo Fighters after this? Before you'd written Concrete And Gold you'd all enjoyed some quiet, domestic, downtime. Will it be the same again with the next album?
"No, we've already written another record, and we're gonna hit the road next year..."

Er, really?
"(laughs) Hell no, I'm kidding! We're gonna take a break for a while. Oh my god! I'm gonna be turning 50 in January! I think that as with most things we do, we'll just go at it when we're ready. It's a hard thing to get away from, to be honest, because we actually enjoy playing with each other - we love the time that we have together onstage. So when thats over, every time you take a break, you just fucking miss your band. And it sounds corny, but it's true. The thing is, everybody's always doing something, so eventually it'll just come together. We'll see what happens."

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