The Nirvana Song That Convinced Dave Grohl to Join Them… Instead of Gwar

Nirvana Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty Images. Gwar via Loudwire YouTube
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Dave Grohl‘s decision to join Nirvana unequivocally changed the history of music. Would ‘Nevermind’ have been the smash it was without Dave’s caveman-esque energy and skins beating? Maybe, but maybe not.

Pre-Nirvana, Grohl was of course embedded within the punk scene, playing for the legendary Scream for a spell, but then almost turning down the Nirvana gig entirely to play for none other than those scumdogs in Gwar). As he recalled to Rolling Stone in 2021:

GWAR were looking for a drummer, and I talked to their guitar player Dewey about it,” remembered Dave. “And he’s, like, ‘It’s great, and you get to design your own costume.’ As a drummer, you don’t want something that covers your face fully. You want your arms to be free. So I was, like, ‘Cool.’ So I started kind of drawing this thing. At the time GWAR was a band that would draw like 700 people, right? Which is huge.”

Grohl obviously ended up turning that opportunity down. Per a recent conversation with Howard Stern, he gave a detailed recount of what caused him take a risk on joining Nirvana (remember, he famously never knew Kurt or Kris before joining the band, so he was going on blind musical faith). As transcribed by The Pit:

Howard Stern: So how did you know? Did Kurt [Cobain] play you some songs and you knew he was going to be great? Or the band was just starting to make some noise? What was going on that you knew you had to leave Scream?

Dave responded: “There was a record before the record ‘Nevermind.’ Nirvana had a record called ‘Bleach’. I was their fifth drummer – they had a bunch of drummers. But, this guy Chad Channing was their drummer and he had left. 

So, I knew that record [‘Bleach’] because it was really popular in the underground. And the cool thing about it was like it was noisy, it had dissonant punk rock, cool songs, but then there was a sing called About a Girl in the middle of the record which sounds like something off of an early Beatles record.

It’s like a Lennon, McCartney song, and you’re listening to it and you’re like ‘oh fuck, this kid [Cobain] can do that, too? Holy shit!’

And and so we had a mutual friend and they said Nirvana were looking for a drummer and they had seen me play and they were like, you know, if we can get a guy like that it might be cool.” Uh, yeah Dave – it might be cool indeed. Might just even change the face of modern music, ay?

Dave Grohl Explains the Kurt Cobain Song That Convinced Him He Had to Join Nirvana: