When Kurt Cobain and Kris Novoselic came together to form Nirvana in 1987, they did not know that it would take the intervention of Dave Grohl to catapult the band to fame and prosperity. The drummer joined Nirvana just before they signed to DGC Records and recording their first major album, “Nevermind.” The band may have lasted only a few years before Cobain committed suicide in 1994, but Krist Novoselic remembers the first Nirvana jam with Dave Grohl so vividly and why they hired him. Let’s take you back to that moment that forever shaped the trajectory of the rock band.
Dave Grohl Joins Nirvana
For Grohl, fate always seemed to be opening doors of opportunity when the light at the end of the tunnel started to flicker. He was only 15 when he joined his first band. According to Drum! Magazine, his guitar-strumming skills were wanting but the energy he possessed enticed Freak Baby to hire him as their second guitarist. The band later changed its name to Mission Impossible, and Grohl moved from being a guitarist to being the drummer, a change that would heavily impact his profession as a musician. By the time he was 16, Grohl was already the talk of the town as his drumming skills were too good to ignore. Consequently, in 1986, he joined Scream.
The drummer dropped out of school at the age of 17, and for three years, he was with Scream, getting paid $7 a day and traveling to his dream destinations. The independence made him feel he had finally found the place where he belonged. By August 1990, Nirvana had lost their drummer, but the band was invited to open for Sonic Youth in New Jersey. While there, Cobain’s friend Buzz Osborne urged him to go with him to support Scream. However, Cobain had previously watched Scream perform in 1987 and hated their performance, saying they were into hard rock, which he despised. Still, he agreed to avoid bad blood between the two bands; this time, his eyes were glued to the drummer, Grohl. Cobain said that was the kind of drummer Nirvana needed. Cobain and Novoselic, therefore, invited Grohl to Seattle, and he arrived on September 21, 1990. Cobain and Grohl did not hit it off immediately, especially after the drummer offered the frontman an apple, but Cobain declined, saying it would make his gums bleed. Even after the invitation, Grohl did not play with the band and had to be part of the audience since Cobain chose Dan Peters to be on the drums. However, Novoselic and Cobain found out that Grohl was the drummer they needed during their session at the Dutchman, where they did their opening number. Grohl was never told that he was in the band, but Peters was informed that Nirvana had gotten a new permanent drummer.
The First Gig
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Novoselic said that there was instant chemistry between Grohl and the band members. He added that Grohl was such an easy person to get along with that there was no awkwardness. Therefore, he was not surprised to learn that Grohl moved in with Cobain, which Novoselic was brave of Grohl. Grohl, on the other hand, thinks that the connection was because Cobain was a drummer himself.
The drummer told Rolling Stone that whenever Cobain wrote songs or played the guitar, he would move his jaw as of playing drums with his teeth. Grohl said that the rhythm Cobain wanted had to first be in his head. Therefore the frontman must have been exhilarated to find someone with skills such as Grohl’s, although the drummer believes he was picked because of his ability to be a backup singer. Whatever the reason, Cobain was pleased enough to have Grohl in the band. His place in the group was cemented when they did the first gig a couple of weeks later, on October 11, 1990, when the band played at North Shore Surf Club, Olympia. The tickets to the club had sold out within a day of going on sale, and by the time Grohl was done drumming the first few songs on the setlist, the drum was torn. The drummer’s energy impressed Cobain so much that he held up the torn drum to the crowd, and Grohl credited that night’s performance to his need to prove that he was worth the spot. For this reason, Nirvana success is attributed mainly to Grohl.
The Bandmates Still Jam
Cobain’s death resulted in the death of Nirvana and the motivation to play. As Grohl told RadioX, he did not want to play music after Nirvana ended and listening to the radio or playing instruments depressed him. He could not even bring himself to think about playing for another band, and fans were not making it easy for him to move on as there was pressure for the remaining band members to keep the memory of Nirvana untainted. Luckily, the depressing days have gone, and although Grohl, Pat Smears and Novoselic cannot continue as Nirvana, they still enjoy making music together. As published in Kerrang, they visit each other, and if they have instruments or are in a recording studio, they find themselves playing and recording music. They have already recorded a few songs without a vocalist because no one could ever replace Cobain. Grohl said he would not be comfortable singing songs that Cobain sang. Still, there is no official reunion despite the recordings, even if Grohl dreams of being on stage once again with his former band mates. He, however, avoids sad memories of how they used to be when Cobain was around because every time he pictures an empty arena, he is reminded of the late frontman who composed such beautiful songs. Novoselic shares the same opinion; in 2018, he said that although he enjoys occasionally jamming with Grohl and Smears, he would not want it to become a regular thing, thereby hushing down rumors of a reunion.