Dave Grohl is one of the most popular rock musicians still going strong these days, not to mention one of the coolest. But he’s more than just Nirvana and the Foo Fighters; the man has released hundreds of lesser-known songs with other bands, and even some by his lonesome, from before and after he became a superstar.
In honor of the man’s 45th birthday today, let’s listen to some of Grohl’s rarest songs.
1. Cassette Demo
Long before Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, there was Bain Damage, a band name only a bunch of stupid kids would think is hilarious. Coincidentally, 16-year-old Dave Grohl was one of those stupid kids: Dain Bramage was fairly well-known in the Washington D.C. punk community in the mid-1980s, and they even released a full-length album, I Scream Not Coming Down. It’s easy enough to find on vinyl, unlike these demos recorded in 1986.
And BEFORE there was Bain Damage, there was Mission Impossible. Originally named Freak Baby, Mission Impossible became the eventual Bain Damage (don’t worry, this gets less confusing later) when, to quote Drum Magazine, “in late 1984, Grohl was behind [drummer] Dave Smith’s kit at practice, trying out some of the rolls, fills, ruffs, and flams he had been practicing for years in his bedroom of his family home in Springfield, Virginia. He had his head down and eyes closed; his arms and legs became a blur…Lost in music, Grohl was oblivious to his bandmates urging him to get back to his guitar. Standing 6′ 5″ and weighing in at around 270 lbs., skinhead [Brian] Samuels was not a figure used to being ignored. Grohl didn’t notice his hulking bandmate rise from the sofa, so when Samuels yanked him off the drum stool by his hair and dragged him to the ground, he was more shocked than hurt. The rest of his band, however, were mortified…Within the week, Samuels [was] out the door.”
Here’s one of the few Mission Impossible songs that remain. Now let me tell you about how M.I. became Fast…
3. “Hit Me”
Just kidding. After Grohl left Dain Bramage, he joined Scream, a respected hardcore band that predated his stint in the group by five years or so. Grohl replaced Kent Stax, who left Scream for “personal reasons,” and can be heard playing the drums on their fourth album, and first for RAS Records, No More Censorship.
4. “Gods Look Down”
Scream’s fifth album, Fumble, which was recorded in 1988 but not released until 1993, to feed off the success of Nirvana, is notable for containing Grohl’s debut performance as a singer. The song, like Fumble itself, isn’t anything special, but it’s interesting to hear Grohl sound more post-rock than straight-up punk.
5. “Throwing Needles”
There’s no such thing as a rare Nirvana track anymore, not with the massive With the Lights Out, but in 1991, a few short months before Nevermind turned Grohl into a musical superstar, he was recording songs under a fake name. Pocketwatch is the one and only full-length album from Late!, Grohl’s moniker that he used “because I’m an idiot and I thought it would be funny to say to everybody, Sorry, we’re Late!” The quality’s rough, but that’s at least partially intentional: when given the chance to turn Late! into a CD, Grohl refused, claiming “it was never intended to be a big thing.” Pocketwatch is still cassette-only.