“It was really just an experiment,” Dave Grohl tells Apple Music of the first Foo Fighters LP, 25 years after its release. “It wasn’t intended to be an album—I’d always recorded songs by myself. To this day, it still sounds like a demo to me. It was done in the moment, without the intention of everything that followed.” But therein lies much of its power: In the months following Kurt Cobain’s death in April 1994, Grohl wrote and recorded every note of Foo Fighters (save for Greg Dulli’s guitar solo on “X-Static”) on a lark, without an audience in mind. It was music for himself more than anyone else.
And while no one expected the success that followed, you can certainly hear the possibilities. Grohl had come from punk, but he’s just as devoted to The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. That spectrum of influence is on full display for the first time here, whether it’s in the drumming—few have written so many fills that can also double as hooks—or his natural ear for melody. It’s both a reintroduction and a glimpse of what’s to come, from the opening rush of “This Is a Call” to the understated jangle of “Big Me” to the bar-rock sleaze of “For All the Cows” (which he says reminded his mother of Richard Marx) to the muddy catharsis of “Exhausted,” a near-six-minute guitar workout that Grohl played through a battery-powered amp fashioned from a red gasoline can. On “I’ll Stick Around,” he tweaks the sort of pit-friendly pop song (or pop-friendly pit song) that Cobain had blueprinted just four years earlier and points it at his widow, Courtney Love. “It's strange because when you're in a period of loss or grief or mourning, it's like you pick up an instrument and that just spills out,” Grohl says of the songs. “Like an exorcism.”
After producing and handing out 100 cassettes to friends from the back of his truck, he was so inspired by the response that he formed a band, started a label, and—still Nirvana’s drummer in most people’s minds at that point—became a frontman. Call it one of rock’s great transformations. “It’s the sound of someone that was just ready to explode, because I was ready for life to just move on,” he says. “I felt like I had to get these songs out of the way, and then I could take a deep breath and live life again. I really look back on it fondly. It was a good time—I was still a kid, man.”