After Nirvana’s dissolution, Dave Grohl had to decide how he would go down in history. Was he going to be known as the ‘former Nirvana drummer’ or a successful frontman of his very act? There’s no need to say which one Dave chose, though Foo Fighters’ early career wasn’t easy. Recently, the band’s publicist, Steve Martin, discussed with Variety how they had to enforce a ‘no Nirvana questions’ rule during interviews so that Grohl could relieve his former band’s shadow.
Following Cobain’s untimely suicide, all Grohl wanted to do was probably rebrand himself as a rock star and carry on on a new path. However, although Foo Fighters was promising, the media interest focused primarily on Nirvana rather than Dave’s unique journey. So, as Steve discussed his relationship with John Silva, he confessed how his friendship with the manager would lead him to work with Grohl.
“Yes, he’s one of my best friends now, but our first campaign together was ‘Ill Communication,’” recalled Martin as he answered if he had met John through Beastie Boys. “The following year, John told me Dave Grohl had decided to start a band called Foo Fighters instead of joining up with somebody else.”
Though Silva was the one to let Martin know about Dave’s new band, the publicist had already met Grohl. He said, “I went to meet with him at the Foos’ first East Coast show, opening for Mike Watt in Philadelphia in the spring of ’95. I’d actually met Dave before when he was in Scream, and they were opening for Agnostic Front.”
When Martin was asked if he had any issue with working with Foo Fighters after Nirvana’s then-new dissolution, Steve was clear about his trust in Grohl. He discussed if he had any doubts about the band, saying, “Absolutely not. I was always all-in with them, but I definitely encountered skepticism, especially on the industry side. The press side was really interested, but we had to make a rule that if you asked Nirvana questions, the interview was over.”
Even though the publicist liked Dave and his music, there weren’t many people interested in Foo Fighters. Martin explained, “It wasn’t the easiest ride at that point. I had a lot of people trying to get me to work bands who were selling millions, or were Nirvana knock-offs, or were making music I just didn’t like.”
Steve Martin added, “They’d always target Dave and say, ‘You think the drummer from Nirvana is going to be as big of a rock star as this band you’re turning down?’ I’d always say, ‘I just like their music better.’ I never understood why somebody would want me to represent them if I didn’t like their music that much.”
So, although Dave wanted to leave Nirvana’s legacy behind and follow his own path, people didn’t want to let go. As the media was interested in asking about Nirvana and Cobain, things were a bit tough for Foo Fighters. However, with his musical talent, Grohl formed his name as a cult rocker of the scene.