Smells Like Teen Spirit: Dave Grohl Recounts Nirvana’s Lightning in a Bottle 30 Years Later

Dave Grohl, Kurt Coabin, Krist Novoselic – posed, group shot on November 12, 1991
(Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)

2021 marks the 30-year anniversary of Nirvana’s second studio album “Nevermind,” which thrust Grunge music into the mainstream. The album also brought beloved rock n’ roll icon Dave Grohl into the band’s lineup.

30 years later Ghrol recounted, in the spirit of the milestone, the early days and the surprise success of “Smells Like teen Spirit.” 

“We were kids. I think I was 21 when we were writing that song,” Grohl told USA TODAY. “It was in a rehearsal space that was a converted barn, and we just wanted to go in and work. This was our life at the time: We were just eating and sleeping so we could go back to the rehearsal space and write more songs.”

“Nevermind” initially was released to muted response, but through the next 10 years would swell to over 10 million copies sold. Grohl said in his recent interview that the band was shocked at the initial response of the seminal track “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

“Usually when you play a song that’s not a part of your celebrated repertoire, people stand and listen,” Grohl says. “The first time we played ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ the place went (expletive) bananas and that hadn’t necessarily happened before, so I didn’t know what it would mean. I just knew sonically, this is going to make people move. And it did.”

Dave Grohl recording in Hilversum Studios, playing drums on November 25, 1991(Photo by Michel Linssen/Redferns)

The now Foo Fighters frontman looked back fondly at his time with Nirvana, comparing listening to old songs as transportive experiences.

“My connection with those songs is a bit deeper than just musical,” Grohl says. “So when I hear those songs come on the radio, it’s almost like going back to your mother’s house and flipping through the same photo albums she’s had since you were a kid. You’ve looked at the picture 1,000 times, it’s fading, but it brings you back to that moment.

“So when I hear those songs, it brings me back to recording,” Grohl continued. “I can remember the shirt I wore. I can remember how cold it was. I can remember the drum set. So that’s my connection to it. I have my theories on why so many people connected to it and why Nirvana became a popular band, but mine is just a little more distorted than an actual music critic.”

The Foo Fighters are celebrating in their own right as the group released their tenth album on “Medicine at Midnight” just last week on February 5th. The group also has reason to celebrate 2021 further as their name was recently released as part of the 2021 nomination list of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along side other rock favorites like Iron Maiden, and Rage Against The Machine .



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