When Nirvana nearly replaced Dave Grohl on drums

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Dave Grohl joined Nirvana in 1990 as the drummer, replacing Chad Channing. His influence in the band can still be seen as his debut album ‘Nevermind’ was a huge critical success. His drumming helped Nirvana reach its most significant potential and also helped to popularize the grunge genre.

Nirvana was founded by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic who were schoolmates. Their debut album ‘Bleach’ was released in 1989 and reflected the raw and gritty sound which gave rise to grunge. Back then, Dave was not the drummer in the band. But after his arrival, the band was a big deal.

Cobain wanted Nirvana to reach the top. This created pressure on the style they were pursuing. Regarding that Cobain revealed some kind of stuff to Guitar World. It was in 1991. He believed they were “musically and rhythmically retarded.” He added, “We play so hard that we can’t tune our guitars fast enough. People can relate to that. We sound like the Bay City Rollers after an assault by Black Sabbath, and we vomit onstage better than anyone!”

Nonetheless, what Cobain thought, Nirvana was very much loved after their second album, ‘Nevermind’. But, the band had their own thing going on behind the scene. Grohl remembered that moment during an interview with Vulture in 2021. The pressure was immense after the release of the album and Grohl recalled Cobain considering replacing Grohl.

Grohl said he overheard a conversation between Kurt and Krist. When they were driving to Los Angeles to start rehearsals for the In Utero Tour. He said, “I was sitting a few rows ahead of Kurt and Krist. I could hear Kurt saying, ‘I think we need a drummer that’s more rudimental, along the lines of Dan Peters,’ who was the guy they almost hired when I joined the band.”

Dave continued and revealed that he was upset that they wanted to replace him. Back in the 1980s, Dan Peters was the one who had intrigued Cobain. But he was already a member of the band Mudhoney. Grohl continued, “I was really upset because I thought things were ok, I talked to Krist, and I said, ‘Is that really what you guys want to do? Because if that’s what you want, maybe just let me know, and we can call it a day.’ I eventually talked to Kurt about it, and he said, ‘No. That’s not what we want to do.'”

“I just felt like, ‘It’s up to you guys what kind of drummer you really want,’ and they decided I should stay.”

Dave explained that the band was ‘on shaky ground for a lot of reasons’. He admitted he would “wake up every day not knowing what was going to happen next”.  The sudden rise to fame was traumatic for the band. He also added that he can’t really speak for Kurt as he is not around to speak for himself but each of them had their own problem back then.

Dave was asked how he has managed to avoid ‘scandals’ in his career. He then recalled his friend’s death and said, “I’ll go back to when Kurt died.The next morning, I woke up and I realized he wasn’t coming back and I was lucky to have another day. I sat and made a cup of coffee. ‘I can have a cup of coffee today. But he can’t.’ I got in my car to take a drive. ‘Beautiful day. Sun’s out. I’m experiencing this. He can’t.'”

“It was then I realized no matter how good or bad a day, I wanted to be alive to experience it, That becomes your divining rod. I just want to get to tomorrow. I just want to fucking make it one more day.”

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