With the latest Foo Fighters album being dropped and a tour would be the ensuing result one has to wonder what Dave Grohl, the mastermind behind the Foo Fighters, would be thinking his former band mate and friend from grunge rockers Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, would have to say about the music he makes.
In the soon to be released Foo Fighters documentary Back & Forth Grohl opens up about his days in Nirvana, as well as the early beginnings on the Foo. But that doesn’t help answer the question that is proposed. To think further on this subject I found myself asking several people, what do you think Cobain would think of Grohl’s new band, the Foo Fighters? Would he like it? Would he be disgusted? What would Cobain be like when it came to tracks such as “My Hero” or “Everlong”?
The story is well known. Seventeen years ago Kurt Cobain died. Many believe it was suicide while some few believe in the conspiracy theory that Courtney Love, his wife, was somehow involved. What Cobain left behind was more than a widow but a young daughter and a band that was on the rise.
Dave Grohl was the drummer for the band when Cobain passed from this world and he brought with him a new sound to the drums when he was banding on the cymbals for the grunge rock quartet. From the very first song on the album Nevermind Grohl’s powerful drumming could be felt.
The sound from their first album Bleach (1989) had changed to Nevermind (1991). Grohl would drum on the final album as well In Utero (1993). Of course proceeding Cobain’s death Grohl took some time off. This goes without saying, when someone close to you, band or friend or anything, passes you need that grieving time.
Grohl did some demos and labeled it Foo Fighters and thus the band was born. But Cobain’s songwriting style, was or at least still is different than Grohl’s. Listening to a Nirvana track next to a Foo track this question becomes more and more apparent to me. Would Cobain loath the music Grohl was making.
Nirvana tracks have this natural dirty sound to them, and I’m just talking about the singles for both bands to give a decent comparison. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” featured a raw energy that just seemed so natural. Cobain and co. helped bring in the grunge movement along with fellow Seattle act Pearl Jam but Grohl strayed away becoming more of a rock outfit than grunge.
On the mellower side Nirvana still had that nasty dirty sound to it that most people could be like “oh that’s so easily a Nirvana song.” Tracks like “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” which is a good example of a mellow song for Nirvana have this sound to it that’s unique but you take a Foo track like “Let It Die” and it has some pop elements to it. Most of Cobain’s writing didn’t have any catchy choruses, and some people might just go to think that Cobain threw random words together and made a song.
So Foo uses powerful rock heavy sounds that sound overproduced in comparison to half of Nevermind. Of course this is not a bad thing by any means. I am not trying to destroy the Foo Fighters, they are a damn good band, but the question still is being posed what would Cobain think?
Cobain seemingly was a man who didn’t care about anything, look at how he dressed, quite simply doesn’t care. His hair was long and generally in his face, the look of a man who doesn’t give five shits let alone two. We go back to the songwriting. In the documentary Grohl says that “Kurt had the simplest way of writing songs” or at least something along those lines.
Sure that may have worked back then but now? Now it just doesn’t cut it. If Nirvana were to come around today (and we ignore the whole grunge movement from that era) it wouldn’t be the same. The popular acts are the “emo” rockers and the hip hoppers. They would just get strange looks and that would be it.
Cobain also seemed like a person who would not approve of the music today. The music coming out of Seattle is no longer about the heavy rock that it once was but now is a hotbed for indie rockers such as Death Cab For Cutie. But then again music evolves over time which is something I think Cobain would fully grasp or at least already had that grasp on himself.
The final conclusion is this, I don’t think Cobain would either hate or love the band. Based on assumptions and other notions I would feel that Cobain would applaud Grohl for going out there and doing something unique and different, well more so at the time. Combining elements of grunge and rock and helping establish an alternative rock base. From songs that just have the catchy chorus to songs that have the raw emotive power that music should have. Somewhere up in heaven Cobain is watching me write this and shaking his head at how wrong most of my statements truly are.