My Brilliant Career


From snot-nosed punk to Foo Fighter-in-chief, via that popular beat combo Nirvana and the odd drumstick-sized joint, his has been a singularly eventful journey.

It's been 16 years since Dave Grohl first announced himself to a world beyond grubby punk clubs. The robust volley of drums at the start of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit kicked off one of the most significant singles and albums of modern times. Nevermind is, as Grohl puts it, "the reason why I'm talking to you right now".
  Though this is probably true, Grohl has always made his own luck. He had already been in four obscure punk bands - Freak Baby, Mission Impossible, Dain Bramage and Scream - before joining Nirvana and against expectations, including his own, he has flourished since Kurt Cobain took his own life in 1994 - As the Foo Fighters have snowballed from being a solo experiment undertaken in the wake of Nirvana's demise, so Grohl has become the complete rock star.
  His lifestyle is both simple (he prefers a boozy barbecue soundtracked by Led Zeppelin to red-carpet posing) and extravagant (hiring Lear jets is a favourite luxury). Musically, he has drifted from his roots, but his unassuming attitude stems from the DIY ethic of his early career.
  "There are times when 1 feel a million miles away from Washington, DC in the '80S, and then there are others where I feel like we're one of the punkest bands in the world," says Grohl. "I go back and forth. For me, the most important thing is integrity."
  Away from the Foo Fighters, Grohl has become the drummer of choice for, well, pretty much anyone who can get his phone number. He has contributed to albums by the likes of Tenacious D, David Bowie, Cat Power, Garbage, Queens Of The Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails. "Trent Reznor was recording and giving directions to the drummer that maybe he should do this like Dave Grohl would do it," he says. "Finally he thought, Why don't Ijust call Dave?" There are, though, some limits on Grohl's availability as a session player. "I wouldn't play on a band's record that I don't enjoy. Or play for money."

Scream - No More Censorship SCREAM - NO MORE CENSORSHIP
The Punk Rock Album
"The only album I'd made before that was with my previous band, Dain Bramage. Then we went to someone's garage studio and made the record in two days. No More Censorship was the first time I'd been in a 24-track studio, a place called Lion And Fox Studios in Washington, DC. Scream had signed to this reggae label, RAS. We were their only rock band. [Eccentric Jamaican reggae star] Eek-A-Mouse was the big artist on the label. One day he came in with a massive leather pouch filled with amazing marijuana from Jamaica. We rolled ajoint the size of a drumstick and smoked the whole thing. I think he may have been the first famous person I'd ever met. Our idea of making this huge rock record didn't really pan out. The engineer had mainly worked on reggae records, so the end result wasn't what we wanted it to be. I was at the peak of my strength as a drummer. Fuck, dude, I was tireless. That was fast hardcore, so a lot of the shit happening on that album is really tricky."

Nirvana - In Utero NIRVANA - IN UTERO
The Challenging Album
"We had never met [producer}Steve Albini before. He had this reputation of being a dastardly asshole, but he was nothing but nice. Right off the bat he said, If you beat me at a game of pool, I'll make your album for free. If I beat you, you pay me double. We were paying him $100,000. Anyone who's got the stones to gamble something that large must be an amazing pool player, so everyone said no. We booked two weeks there [Pachyderm Studio, Minnesota]. It was in February, I believe. That's the coldest I've ever been in my life - it was like an ice planet. We were in total isolation and locked indoors, because if you stepped outside you'd die. That album was really recorded live. There were barely any overdubs, except for vocals. I was finished with the drums in three days. As the session went on, Kurt got a little worse. I think he started using drugs after we had finished recording the music. When I was down there working with them it was great, then it got a little uncomfortable. I like In Utero more than Nevermind because there was nothing in between the band and the tape. When we turned It In to the record company, they called back and said, Is this a joke? This Isn't your next record. We basically said, We are Nirvana. That is our new record."
KEY TRACK: Heart-Shaped Box

Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters FOO FIGHTERS - FOO FIGHTERS
The Solo Album
"After Nirvana was over I was getting offers from all these different people to join their band as a drummer - Tom Petty, Danzig - but I didn't want to stay behind the drumkit and think about Nirvana for the rest of my life. I thought that this would be some sort of cathartic therapy, to go out and record these songs that I'd written by myself. So I booked six days at Robert Lang studios in Seattle, which to me was an eternity - I'd never been in a studio myself for more than six hours. I went in with [producer] Barrett Jones. We got there at nine in the morning and by noon we were ready to go. We wound up recording four songs a day. I was insecure about my voice. You know how people double their vocals to make them stronger? That album the vocals are quadrupled. I didn't want to be a lead singer, I couldn't fucking sing."
KEY TRACK: This Is A Call

The Great Album
"Musically, this is the album I'm most proud of. I went in, recorded two or three songs and split. Then Josh [Homme, QOTSA mainman]called me and said, Things aren't working out with our drummer. Do you want to play on our whole record? The Foo Fighters were in our seven-year itch phase. We were trying to make One By One but there didn't seem to be any passion involved. I'd go rehearse with Queens and be in the greatest band in the world. Then I'd go back to our studio, where everyone was ordering sushi and saying, I have an acupuncture session, so I'll finish the track when I get back. I said, 'Do you guys want to be here? Because I don't. Let's take a break'. We stopped making the record and threw it away."
KEY TRACK: No One Knows

Killing Joke - Killing Joke KILLING JOKE - KILLING JOKE
The Guest Album
"Killing Joke are a huge influence on the band. They called and asked if I'd play and I said, 'Fuck, yeah'. I met Jaz [Coleman, Kiiling Joke frontman]in New Zealand at the Big Day Out. I was sitting in my hotel room and my phone rang. I picked it up and someone said, 'Young David! It's Jaz from Killing Joke'. He sounded like a fucking monster. We met down in the bar. I was sitting there in the lobby surrounded by businessmen, I look up and this man walks in wearing a priest's uniform. We sat down and got hammered. Jaz's brain might be hardwired different to most people's, but he's not insane. The drums were the last thing to go on the record. They're usually recorded first so you don't know what it's going to sound like until it's done. With this one I was the cherry on the cake."
KEY TRACK: Asteroid