During a conversation with Kerrang Magazine, Dave Grohl opened up about Nirvana’s 2018 reunion at the Cal Jam, explaining how it felt to perform with bassist Krist Novoselic and guitarist Pat Smear, and without the late legend Kurt Cobain.
The 2018 gig saw the three rockers join forces with Joan Jett, Brody Dalle, and singer John McCauley. Dave Grohl commented:
To have Krist and Pat and I be able to play some Nirvana songs again – which we rarely ever do – was beyond everything else to me. It’s a complicated feeling: it’s cathartic and sad, but at the same time it’s beautiful for lots of reasons.
When Pat and Krist and I sat down to go through those songs in a small rehearsal room with concrete walls, it fuckin’ sounded like Nirvana.
We would look at each other and smile, but the emotions would kind of go in waves because there was someone missing – and you wish that you could still share those songs with Kurt.
For the three of us to revisit them and just let all of that out… There’s a lot that comes out. It’s more than musical or physical – it’s this emotional, spiritual release that those songs are filling the room with.
It was something special that doesn’t come around often. It was amazing. It’s hard for me to even imagine how people felt on the other side of the stage.
It was just Krist, Pat and I (Dave Grohl), with Joan and John, within a 10-foot radius blasting these songs into the universe again.
Check out Nirvana reunited for Cal Jam 2018
Was there a moment where it hit you, like, ‘Holy shit, we’re playing Nirvana songs in front of thousands of people again’?
It was probably ‘Teen Spirit.’ The whole thing seemed sort of surreal, and it raced by in a heartbeat and it seemed like a dream. It’s not unlike these recurring dreams that I’ve had for the past 24 years, y’know.
I still dream that Nirvana is still a band, and Kurt just appears – like he’s been in hiding (laughs). We look at him and go, ‘What the fuck?! Where have you been?’
And we’ve got a gig in an hour, and I get this feeling, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I get to play these songs again.’ I have that dream at least once or twice a year and have done for the past 24 years. Getting up to play those songs is like living in that dream.
When we rehearsed backstage the day before, the first time we kicked into Breed with Joan Jett was just explosive. It was fucking massive. So the next time we rehearsed, I started inviting my friends, like, ‘Come here! Come and watch this. See what it feels like when we bust into ‘Teen Spirit’.’
It was fucking like being shot into outer space. Being able to play that drum fill and break into the chorus… I don’t know how to explain it. It’s spiritual, physical, emotional – all of that. It’s not something that happens often, that’s for sure.
The source also asked Novoselic, “How do you feel about commemorating Nirvana’s legacy these days?” The bassist replied:
It’s bittersweet because somebody was missing up there. That’s why during the set – during most of which I was standing very close to Dave like some sort of security blanket – I walked up to the mic and said, ‘Let’s have a cheer for Kurt Cobain!’
I felt we had to say something about the situation. I don’t know if we’ll ever do something like this again, but it felt really good to do it. Personally, it was great to play with those guys again, and to play those songs.