"I still dream there's an empty arena waiting for us to play," the musician said about the legendary rock band

By Peter Mikelbank and Phil Boucher
January 11, 2021 06:45 PM
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Credit: Everett

More than a quarter of a century since their split, Dave Grohl still longs to be in Nirvana — at least in his dreams. In a new interview with Classic Rock Magazine, the drummer, 51, opened up about the iconic group and why he doesn't sing Nirvana's songs on his own.

"I still have dreams that we're in Nirvana, that we're still a band," he said. "I still dream there's an empty arena waiting for us to play."

Despite this, Grohl — who was Nirvana's drummer until the band ended with Kurt Cobain's tragic death in 1994 — remains fiercely protective of the band's songs. While he occasionally plays live with Nirvana bandmates Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear, Grohl says he won't ever play the songs solo.

"I wouldn't feel comfortable singing a song that Kurt sang," he said. "I feel perfectly at home playing those songs on the drums. And I love playing them with Krist and Pat and another vocalist."

"But I don't sit down at home and run through 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by myself," he added. "It's just a reminder that the person who is responsible for those beautiful songs is no longer with us. It's bittersweet."

Considered by many as the preeminent rock anthem of the '90s, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, continually ranks among the list of top ten rock singles. 

Recorded in May 1991, the iconic song (and its shambolic pep rally video) was the first single off Nirvana's second studio album, Nevermind. The single, which more than any other made grunge into mainstream rock, peaked at No. 6 in the Billboard charts.

The album itself — which featured an iconic image of a baby swimming underwater on its cover — claimed the No. 1 spot in January 1992 and has spent a total of 505 weeks in the Billboard charts.

"When I first joined the band it was so much fun," the Foo Fighters star also told the outlet about his time in Nirvana. "I lived on the couch in Kurt's living room, we rehearsed in a barn, we set up our gear and played those songs and people bounced around and got hot and sweaty. I really loved the connection and the appreciation that Nirvana's audience had with the band."

Sadly, this joy started to fade as the band got bigger, becoming a global sensation.

"Things got complicated and much darker," Grohl told the outlet. "A lot of it had to do with drugs, a lot of it had to do with finally getting to a place that felt completely foreign and not entirely healthy."

"And over time that proved to be hard to escape from," he added. "So yes, there were a lot of really beautiful moments and a lot of really devastating moments. It ran the gamut."

Grohl's band the Foo Fighters will release its 10th studio album, Medicine at Midnight, on Feb. 5.