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.”