Andrew Talks Bands – Nirvana/Foo Fighters

Blog written by Andrew Greig (who else?!)

This is a sort of new thing I’m doing. I don’t have any new ideas for album reviews and I thought to myself, you know, I might as well just talk about my favourite bands. Starting off with Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

I remember my first time hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the guitar riff, followed by the drum fill, followed by the bass slide exploding into the grungy main riff, it was a thing of magic, it gave my ears a change from the stuff in the charts at that time and it really helped me find myself as a person, yeah I was like 5/6 at the time but it gave me a unique music taste back then.

The reason why I’ve put Nirvana and Foo Fighters is that they have Dave Grohl as a common denominator. This blog pretty much could be about him as far as I know.

Nirvana was one of the first bands I listened to as a kid. Think I was about 5/6 when I heard their “Greatest Hits”. I got really into it as I liked a lot of heavy rock music, it was around this time as well, Foo Fighters released “One By One”, the first Foos album I listened to and “All My Life” instantly became my favourite track.

I can remember roundabout then my dad telling me that Foo Fighters frontman, Dave Grohl, was the drummer of Nirvana which I thought was pretty cool.

I kinda drifted away from that kinda music for a little while but my dad was quite a big grunge fan as he listened to the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam etc. I’d listened to the first few tracks of Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007) and then stumbled upon Foo Fighters’ Greatest Hits (2009) where I was introduced to tracks such as “Everlong”, “My Hero” “Monkey Wrench” and “Learn To Fly”.

Nirvana are a special band for me as the songs spoke to me on a personal level. Songs like “Teen Spirit”, especially with the video, which kinda focuses on the different kinds of people you meet in school, such as the jocks, the emos, the prom queens, the geeks, and people like me, an indie musician who never followed a crowd. “Something In The Way” is a go-to song whenever you’re depressed. Also tracks like off the In Utero album like “Pennyroyal Tea” which focused on Kurt Cobain’s chronic illness which I sort of have as well, having recurring stomach problems, and “Dumb”, as sometimes “I think I’m dumb”, due to the fact I have learning difficulties and  mood problems. It wasn’t just the music though as I hold Kurt, Krist and especially Dave on a spiritual level. Though Kurt only lived until 27 and died three years before I was born, he spoke to a generation of people, people on the edge, people who were outcasts, etc. but they were cool guys as well as Nirvana, Kurt played a part in the Riot Grrrl movement, becoming an opponent of sexism, racism and homophobia, playing at a gay rights benefit in Oregon. He was also good mates with Michael Stipe of R.E.M., another one of my most loved bands.

As for Dave Grohl, he formed Foo Fighters a year after Kurt killed himself. I take my hat off to him due to the fact he was obviously severely depressed after Kurt’s suicide and couldn’t even listen to music but the fact that he recorded another album, let alone play all the music himself, is truly something to be admired.

Grohl was one of the people who not only influenced me to become a musician but to stick with it, as it took me forever to find a functioning band, me and my band Vague Reality regard Dave and Foo Fighters near the top of our table of influences for our music.

After recording the Foo Fighters album by himself, he then got Pat Smear from the Germs/Nirvana’s second guitarist and Nate Mendel, bassist from Sunny Day Real Estate onboard as well as SDRE’s drummer William Goldsmith, however that didn’t work out with Grohl erasing Goldsmith’s drum parts and replacing them with his own on the Foo’s second album, The Colour And The Shape, an area in which Grohl regrets. Despite this, Grohl is one of the most down-to-earth musicians in the music industries in my opinion (well, he isn’t called the nicest man in rock for no reason is he?) He’s done so much for music as well as Nirvana/Foo Fighters, he’s played the drums with Queens of the Stone Age, Tenacious D, Cage the Elephant as well as play the devil in Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.

However, if you think Dave Grohl did well bouncing back from Nirvana, well Nirvana’s second guitarist Pat Smear, 10 years Dave’s senior, had been in that position there before with the death of Germs singer Darby Crash, who died in 1980 at just 22 years old. I really admire Pat for the fact that he’s had lost two very close friends but is still at the top of his game with Foo Fighters today. As for Krist Novoselic, well he’s made sporadic guest appearances on Foo Fighters’ albums and later getting involved in politics and has recently completed a Bachelor degree in social sciences.

But I feel that the Foo Fighters have always been a sort-of “supergroup”, later bringing in Alanis Morissette’s drummer Taylor Hawkins (who is a massive influence on my drumming) and Gimme Gimmes’ guitarist Chris Shiflett, a punk rocker through-and-through who really came into his own with as Foo Fighters’ lead guitarist.

I feel that a lot of Foo Fighters’ songs would’ve been Nirvana songs if Kurt hadn’t committed suicide, though I read somewhere that if Nirvana did do a fourth album, it would be more stripped-back, more acoustic, taking influence from R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People.

While it is a shame Kurt going so soon, it sounds horrible but arguably my favourite band of all time wouldn’t have existed, the reason why FF has the edge over Nirvana is because they have more songs and they’re more diverse in their musical style but as I said earlier, I can imagine certain Foo Fighters tracks being Nirvana tracks if Kurt was still around. Forget Wes Scantlin and Puddle of Mudd, yeah he may sound like Kurt Cobain but I don’t think Kurt would’ve wanted to take that direction with Nirvana if I’m totally honest.

In terms of album wise, while I’ve listened to both Bleach and Nevermind I’ve not actually listened to all of In Utero but my favourite Nirvana tracks consist of Teen Spirit (obviously), In Bloom, Come As You Are, Heart-Shaped Box, Pennyroyal Tea, Been A Son, You Know You’re Right, Tourette’s, Downer, Drain You to name a few.

As for Foo Fighters, I’ve listened to all their albums bar the acoustic half of In Your Honour but my favourite Foo’s tracks consist of All My Life, Monkey Wrench, Generator, I’ll Stick Around, Let It Die, White Limo, I Am A River, My Hero and Run to name a few of so many.

To conclude, both Nirvana and Foo Fighters have contributed so much not just to my musical influences but to my life in general. The Unplugged in New York album got me through a difficult stage in my life and the fact that Dave and co. are still at the top of their game with Foo Fighters keeps me happy and content. While some artists larger popularity is sometimes brought into question, it should really be the music that gets recorded that matters.

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