L.A Story

Los Angeles Magazine

The Encino-based Foo Fighter (and onetime Nirvana drummer) talks about his first trip to L.A, seedy hotel rooms, and mud wrestlers.

Dave Grohl At 18 I dropped out of high school to join this local D.C hardcore band, Scream, and we hit the road. For two months I lived in a Dodge Ram filled with six people, their sleeping bags, and all the equipment. The first night we were in Los Angeles, we slept in the van on Hollywood Boulevard. Later we pooled our money to stay at this hotel on Sunset called the French Cottage. It was basically a crack house - maybe $12 a night for a room - and it smelled like pestecides. I remember doing my laundry there and as I was getting my clothes out of a dryer a gangster walks in with his client, reaches behind the washer, pulls out an enormous bag of crack cocaine, looks at me, and says, "Yo, you're bad for business." I ended up sleeping in the van that night - it smelled better than the French Cottage.
  Years later, on what was to be the final Scream tour, we wound up staying at a house in Laurel Canyon with a bunch of mud wrestlers from the Hollywood Tropicana. Once morning we woke up in our sleeping bags, and our bass player was gone. We had to cancel that night's show. And the next night's show. We did the same thing for about a week until we realized, Wow, he went home. We were stuck. Luckily our roadie was this nice guy from Canada who was having his social security checks sent to us. We'd take his money and buy hot dogs and beans. It was like camping. Fortunately we were able to go to the Hollywood Tropicana and drink for free - we were the cute, scruffy little punks who were sleeping on the floor, so we had many admirers. It was really pretty fun.
  One of the girls in the house had a Honda Rebel 250, which is basically a minibike made to look like a Harley. In those days there were only two things in life that I wanted: One was to make a living at making music, the other was a motorcycle. I filled the tank up with $2 worth of gas and rode around every night through the hills. I would look at these beautiful houses and dream about living in them. It's not lost on me how amazing it is that this all fucking happened.
  At some point during our Laurel Canyon campout I realized, I think I might be trapped here. I never wanted to live in L.A. How the hell am I supposed to get home? A friend offered me a job tiling floors in Costa Mesa for like $15. I was starving. Then one of the wrestlerswould come home and dump about 700 one-dollar bills on the floor. I'd think, What am i doing with my life? One day I saw that my friend Buzz's band, the Melvins, was coming to Los Angeles. I called him and said, "Hey, we're stuck down here. can you put us on the guest list?" He said sure and then asked, "Hey, have you ever heard of Nirvana? they're looking for a drummer." So i called and kurt Cobain said, "Oh, we got Dan Peters from Mudhoney." So that was that. The next day the phone rang and Kurt said, "Maybe you should come up here." I left the mud wrestlers and Laurel Canyon and Costa mesa and all of those wonderful things behind.