Dave Grohl recalled his early days with Nirvana whole traveling around the country in a rented van. The new doc, Dave Grohl’s What Drives Us, is directed by Grohl, produced by Foo Fighters, and is based around various bands’ war stories of making their bones during their early days traveling together on the road.
Grohl has tapped a wide range of friends and fellow musicians — including such high-profile rockers as Ringo Starr, Flea, Slash & Duff McKagan, The Edge, Lars Ulrich, Brian Johnson, Steven Tyler, No Doubt‘s Tony Kanal, Black Flag‘s Kira Roessler, St. Vincent, Exene Cervenka of X, and many more
Dave Grohl chatted with The Hollywood Reporter and shared some of his war stories from Nirvana’s pre-fame days: “I remember driving over the Rockies in our van on an early Nirvana tour, in a snowstorm, and stopping in the middle of the highway because there was a f***ing 10-foot moose in front of us, that we were afraid was going to attack our band. Everyone was like, ‘Don’t honk. Don’t honk. It’ll attack the van.’ Just stupid s*** like that. When Nevermind came out and we started that tour in September of 1991, we were in a van. We were pulling a trailer, and it was all of us and our road crew in a van. And the album started blasting up the charts as we were playing venues that held 100, 200, maybe 300 people. And the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ video was on MTV. We were pulling up to these venues in our van that were just overflowing with people in a, like, imminent riot situation. We’re supposed to go in there and set up and incite this riot. So you’re experiencing all of these things from a bench seat in a van. You’re just like, ‘What the f*** is going on right now?’ So, yeah, I mean, every day there was something new. It was f***ing insane.”
The began to chart its progress by the accomodations they kept on the road: “I mean, by the time Nirvana started touring on the ‘Nevermind Tour,” we would have hotel rooms. So I shared a hotel room with Kurt (Cobain). Krist (Novoselic) shared a hotel room with his wife. And the f***ing sound guy and the guitar tech shared another room. But I mean, it was like Motel Six s**. Even that felt like, ‘Oh, I’ve arrived. I’ve made it. I have my own pillow. F***.’ Before then, it was lined up like sardines in a can.”
Grohl recalled some of the low points of living in the van: “There were nights that were so cold that the condensation from everyone’s breath would freeze on the f***ing metal ceiling of the van, and then little drops of ice would fall and hit you in the face and wake you up. It was disgusting.”
When pressed as to whether Kurt Cobain ever got behind the wheel of the van, Grohl said, “I think maybe he was one person we didn’t allow to drive the van. I don’t remember him driving ever. No, it was me and Novoselic and the sound guy. No, I don’t think Kurt got behind the wheel. . . I remember the day that Nirvana got a tour bus. There was a tour in the winter of 1991, we did a tour, where it was Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was a run up the West Coast. And we show up, and there’s a bus. . . We’re like, ‘Oh my God.’ You could (have) microwave popcorn and watch movies, and there’s a bunk.”
Although Nirvana’s brief-but brilliant career has been analyzed and marked as a turning point in modern rock, Dave Grohl told us a while back that the bottom line was that Nirvana simply loved to rock out: “There was a lot of that crazy, heavy element in Nirvana. Y’know, the one thing that Nirvana was against was just the bull***t.”
Dave Grohl’s What Drives Us is streaming now via The Coda Collection on Amazon Prime Video Channels.
IN OTHER DAVE GROHL NEWS
Now streaming on Paramount+ is Dave Grohl‘s six-part series with his mom, Virginia Hanlon Grohl, From Cradle To Stage.
The series is based around Virginia’s critically-acclaimed book, Cradle To Stage: Stories From The Mothers Who Rocked And Raised Rock Stars, and features numerous famed musicians and their mother’s including Geddy Lee, Tom Morello, Brandi Carlile, Miranda Lambert, Dan Reynolds and Pharrell Williams.
Dave Grohl said of the new show: “Having the opportunity to travel the country and tell the stories of these amazing women behind the curtain not only shed some light on the music that they inspired, but also made me appreciate the love that I was given from my own mother, my best friend. It goes without saying that we are all indebted to the women who have given us life. For without them, there would be no music.”