“Nevermind,” the seminal Nirvana album, had some funkier inspirations than you might expect. In a recent chat with fellow musician Pharrell Williams, Dave Grohl revealed that many of his drum beats for the band were ripped directly from a genre that hasn’t held much respect among rock fans over the years – disco.
A clip from the Foo Fighters frontman’s Paramount+ series, “From Cradle to Stage,” in which he insists to Williams that he was never a great drummer nor an original one began to make the Twitter rounds on Thursday.
“I wanted to be a drumline kid,” Grohl says at the beginning of the clip, “But I can’t read music. I couldn’t then, still can’t now. All I wanted to do was be in a line of drummers all playing drums.”
“I was decent, I wasn’t your level,” Williams replies to which Grohl says, “Stop saying that I’m a good drummer because I’m the most basic f–king drummer.”
Williams makes a “he’s got to be kidding” face to the camera.
“If you listen to ‘Nevermind,’ the Nirvana record,” Grohl continues, “I pulled so much stuff from The Gap Band and Cameo and Tony Thompson on everyone of those songs.”
“It’s all disco,” he says with a laugh, “That’s all it is. Nobody makes the connection.”
“That’s straight-up Gap Band,” a stunned Williams says, recalling the familiar “Smells Like Teen Spirit” beat.
The Gap Band, known for chart-toppers like “Outstanding” and “Burn Rubber on Me,” is one of the most-sampled groups in music, with everyone from Tina Turner to Tyler, the Creator taking cues from their infectious grooves. However, the band typically has been a source of inspiration for R&B artists, less so for a grunge act such as Nirvana.
The clip ends with a cool, full-circle anecdote from Grohl involving Tony Thompson of the band, Chic.
“I told Tony Thompson that,” he said, “He came to my house for a barbecue with somebody and I was like, ‘man, I just want to thank you because I owe so much, I’ve been ripping you off my whole life’ and he goes, ‘I know.'”