'The Music That Changed My Life'


Dave Grohl How are you, how's your day been?
My day started at 5.30 in the morning. I woke up and made smoothies and cereal, then I got dressed and took the kids to a pancake restaurant. Came home from that, played on the swing set for a little while...

With the kids?
No, just myself [laughs]. Yeah, with the kids.

What's the first record you bought?
It was a compilation album on K-Tel. I bought it at a drug store for maybe a dollar. On that record was the foundation of my musical being - Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group. That was the first song I fell in love with.

Did you only listen to rock when you were growing up?
Oh my God, yeah.

No gangsta rap or Duran Duran phases?
Fuck, no. I mean, after The Edgar Winter Group I was given The Beatles' greatest hits records, you know the early red one and the later blue one. After studying The Beatles albums for a few years I moved onto Kiss and Rush and the The B-52's andDevo. Then I discovered hardcore punk rock, so I put all those other records in the attic. I have to say that some of the most influential albums in my collection weren't rock but comedy records. Steve Martin was just is much of a hero to me as The Beatles were when I was a kid. Comedy Is Not Pretty! and A Wild And Crazy Guy; those two albums were huge to me. I wrote a letter to Steve Martin.

Did he write back?
He did. Well, I don't know if he replied but I did get a reply.

What kind of music did your parents like?
My father was a flautist so there was plenty of classical and jazz in the house. Usually it was just the radio on, day in, day out. My mother was into musicals. Some of the albums that my parents tried to get me to listen to were Disney's Fantasia and maybe Chess. Those were immediately refused.

Twenty-five years ago you were 17. What were your career prospects looking like?
Fuuuuck! Pretty bleak [laughs]. I was a high-school dropout. At 17 I had already made my way through a few different jobs. If I needed money I had to work because my family had none.

Five years later you're recording Nevermind...
Yeah, but that wasn't necessarily considered a career decision. It was just elongating the slacker dream that I was living.

How would you rate your playing on Nevermind, now that you're a more seasoned musician?
I think my playing on Nevermind was great. I don't wish that I'd done any more or less; the idea was to keep it simple. It's funny, in 1992 I got an award from Modern Drummer magazine for best up-and-coming drummer. I checked my mail the other day and there was another Modern Drummer award. This year I won the best mainstream drummer award.

Do you think that any other album of the past 25 years has been more influential than Nevermind?
Absolutely, are you kidding me? Do you know how many people sing like Eddie Vedder now? I didn't hear too many bands after Nirvana that sounded like Nirvana. I heard a lot of bands that sounded like Pearl Jam. And by the way, hello? OK Computer? That's not considered hugely influential? Please!

What's your favourite album of the last 25 years?
Trompe Le Monde by the Pixies. That's probably the album that I've listened to the most.

What's the last album you bought?
I've been going on these iTunes binges late at night. Usually I'll have a glass of red wine before bed and that red wine usually costs me about $180 in iTunes fees. Last night was Creedence Clearwater Revival's greatest hits and Public Enemy's first record [Yo! Bum Rush The Show].

Which song makes you cry?
In My Life by The Beatles. It's such a beautiful song and that's what was played at Kurt's memorial. That really gets me.

What's the most out-of-control gig you've ever been to?
Nirvana's show in Dallas at a club called Trees in 1991 was the closest thing to a punk rock riot I've ever seen. It was way over capacity, Kurt got punched in the face, he smashed the monitor board to bits and then hit a bouncer in the head with his guitar. There was blood everywhere. We were told that the people who worked there were going to kill us so we got in a cab but it was mobbed and they smashed a window. I jumped back in the club, got a ride with some chick and we got into a car accident. This was all in the course of two-and-a-half hours!

What's the one song of the last 25 years that you wish you'd written?
Mass Destruction by Faithless. That's perfect.

Which song would you have played at your funeral?
Why Can't We Be Friends? by War [laughs]. That came off the top of my head but I like it. I'm going to have to keep that.