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Dave Grohl Compares Billie Eilish to Nirvana in 1991

The Foo Fighters frontman was interviewed by Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino at the Pollstar Live conference.

Dave Grohl, who’s no stranger to stages of all sizes seemed a little overwhelmed as he sat for a one-on-one conversation with Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino at the Pollstar Live conference earlier today (Feb. 12). The three-day confab held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel brings together professionals working in the live entertainment industries for a series panel discussions and keynotes.

“This is a lot different than a Foo Fighters show,” quipped Grohl, wearing a sport coat. But he recovered quickly, and once he and Rapino both settled in, a fascinating and often revealing conversation took hold. Below are highlights.

On first meeting the guys in Nirvana: Grohl spoke of his early impressions of Krist Novoselic, who he described as, “like six-foot-eight” and Kurt Cobain. “I saw them at a show and I thought, ‘That’s Nirvana. Oh my god.’ It was like ‘Children of the Corn.’ … With Scream, we never had anything successful. Nirvana had great songs. ‘About A Girl’ was like a Beatles song. It was clear that dude [Cobain] could write songs.”

On Nirvana’s first meeting with record executive Donnie Ienner: “Don said, ‘What do you want?’ Kurt said, ‘We want to be the biggest band in the world.’ I thought he was joking. He was serious.”

On Nirvana’s early days: “We practiced every day in this barn thing in Tacoma. We wrote a lot. There was major label interest and I just wanted to not sell equipment for food. We wanted to be Sonic Youth — play to 500 people a night.”

On life after Kurt: “After he died I didn’t want to play music again. The whole world turned upside down for me. It was bad.”

On Foo Fighters’ longevity: “The first 20 years of our band, I thought, ‘Let’s make another record and call it a day. Get one more in there.’ Now we can’t break up. Imagine grandparents getting a divorce. I’m sure it happens, but you’d be like, ‘Why?'”

On his first show: “At 13, I saw a punk band at Cubby Bear across from Wrigley Field in Chicago. There was spitting, blood, broken bottles. It was disgusting and I was like, ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life.”

On dropping out of school: “I dropped out of the high school my mom was a teacher at to play music. I never ever for one second imagined this would happen. Had this not happened I would honestly be doing this anyway, because the love of live music started [for me] when I was six or seven.”

On Billie Eilish: “My daughters are obsessed with Billie Eilish. The connection she has with her audience is the same thing that happened with Nirvana in 1991. … People say, ‘Is rock dead?’ When I look at someone like Billie Eilish, rock and roll is not close to dead!” (Read Grohl’s comments on Eilish in their entirety here.)

On technology: “A lot of the changes in music I don’t understand. I don’t know the difference between Pandora and Spotify. I don’t get it. I don’t have the app. Sorry.”

On rock music as day-job: “It’s only work if you don’t want to do it. I never say, ‘I don’t want to go onstage and drink whiskey and have 30,000 people sing my songs.’ It’s pretty cool.”

On what it’s like to be Dave Grohl“It doesn’t suck.”

Dave Grohl Michael Rapino Pollstar Conference
CREDIT: Courtesy of Pollstar

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