In 1994, Dave Grohl passed around cassette tapes from a marathon solo studio session, and the results became the Foo Fighters' debut later that year. But it was a solo effort. Grohl handled vocals, guitars, bass and drums. As the towering third component of Nirvana, Grohl made his debut with that band on 1991's Nevermind, and his four massive snare hits on opening track "Smells Like Teen Spirit" resonated throughout the following decade.
When Nirvana disbanded following the death of Kurt Cobain, Grohl hesitated to play again but wanted to purge his collection of songs, some written during his tenure in the most important band of the 1990s and what set the tone for the hook-filled, arena-sized pop-punk of the decade. The Foo Fighters' 1995 self-titled, platinum-selling debut (and its hits, opening trio "This Is a Call," "I'll Stick Around" and "Big Me") were followed by 1997's The Colour and the Shape, featuring the band's signature track, "Everlong." Despite assembling a fleshed-out lineup for that sophomore album, Grohl ended up re-recording most of the drums. He didn't find his backbeat soulmate — and, frankly, someone who could match his skills — until 1999's There is Nothing Left to Lose, which featured current hire Taylor Hawkins behind the kit.
Last year the band released its seventh album, Wasting Light, which earned the group's fourth Best Rock Album Grammy in its nearly 20-year tenure as alt-rock figureheads. The shadow of Cobain's death loomed over Grohl and everything he's produced since — and on Wasting Light he's asking to change the conversation; "My past is getting us nowhere fast," he sings on "Matter of Time." Ironically, the album reunites Grohl with Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and Nevermind producer Butch Vig, who helmed the sessions at Grohl's home garage in Virginia. Wasting Light is a massive rock record without the studio clutter of its recent output. Instead, Grohl and company return with the familiar warmth and hooks of his band's first records and embrace its haunted foundations.