Dave Grohl’s journey from obscurity to megastardom is written in the annals of rock’n’roll history. From cult Washington DC hardcore band Scream to Nirvana to the Foo Fighters, the drummer-turned-frontman has become one of the most famous and well-connected musicians on the planet.
But it could have been very, very different. Back in the depths of the 80s, when he was still kicking around the US punk scene, Grohl almost joined GWAR. Yes, that’s right - the rubber-costumed, giant phallus-waving, blood-and-semen spurting shock rockers of Scumdogs Of The Universe and America Must Be Destroyed fame.
We thought the story was a gag, but it turns out it’s true. Speaking exclusively to Metal Hammer’s Stephen Hill, current GWAR frontman Blöthar The Berseker confirms that Grohl seriously considered joining the band in the 80s.
“GWAR was part of the regional punk rock scene, and Dave was part of it too,” says Blöthar, aka Michael Bishop, who originally played in GWAR back in the 80s and early 1990s as an entirely different character, bassist Beefcake The Mighty. “Grohl would come to our shows in [his hometown] Richmond, Virginia a lot. He was friends with GWAR’s guitar player Dewey [Rowell, AKA Flattus Maximus].”
Grohl’s band at the time, Scream, were on the verge of falling apart. According to Blöthar, GWAR themselves were looking for a new drummer, so they reached out to the future Foo Fighter.
“We sent him an invitation and talked to him about it, and he was serious. He made up a character, he was serious,” says Blöthar. “GWAR could put 800 people in a room, so it made sense for him to do it. He came and played with our guitar player. I never played with him. I was playing bass guitar, so if we’d have jammed, I’d have known about it.”
Blöthar tells Hammer that he suspects it was GWAR’s OTT live shows that stopped Grohl from joining. “GWAR was doing some pretty obscene stuff onstage,” says the frontman. “He says it was because he didn’t want his family to come see him do that stuff – his uncle and aunt and his nieces and nephews.
“But I don’t think it was that. I think he had enough sense to see that GWAR was a big pain in the ass, a hard band to be in. Why would you want to put these outfits on when you could just walk onstage in your normal clothes? Even back then, being in GWAR was hardly an appealing proposition for a musician.”
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Grohl himself has confirmed that he did once consider signing up with GWAR, though he ultimately opted to head to Seattle and join a little-known grunge band named Nirvana.
“You could say that GWAR and Nirvana are pretty different, but we’re both rock bands that got into Kiss and The Melvins, playing to kids who love heavy rock music,” says Blöthar. “But man, what a great drummer he was, and still is. I’m sure, he would have made GWAR sound fantastic, but I don’t think he’d be happy. Shame. He could have been enjoying this all these years, dressing in a big rubber suit!”
GWAR’s new album, The New Dark Ages, is out on June 3. A new documentary, This Is GWAR, will be released later this year.