Dave Grohl rose to the occasion of being this year’s official Record Store Day Ambassador by putting out a special vinyl release: Songs From the Laundry Room, which collects four solo recordings he made while still a member of Nirvana. The tracks are raw-sounding, early versions of the Foo Fighters songs “Alone + Easy Target” and “Big Me” (recorded in 1992 and 1994 respectively), as well as a cover of Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” from 1991 and the previously unreleased (and notably Nirvana-esque) “Empty Handed,” recorded the same day as “Alone.” Prior to its release, he told Rolling Stone that these recordings – which are streaming below – were the seeds for what would become Foo Fighters.
The Foo Fighters frontman recorded the songs in the home studio of his sometime roommate Barrett Jones, who would go on to co-produce the group’s debut, Foo Fighters. At the time, he considered the recordings “an experiment for fun,” and had forgotten some of them until Jones presented him with them during the filming of the HBO series Foo Fighters Sonic Highways.
“He was putting on songs that I’d recorded, fuck, I don’t know, 25, 26 years ago?” Grohl said. “I had songs I had no recollection of, which is weird. It’s almost like seeing a snapshot of yourself, passed-out drunk at a party. You’re listening to a song like, ‘Oh, my God, what was I thinking?'”
Grohl estimates he has between 15 and 20 still-unreleased recordings. He called “Empty Handed” an experiment in singing, guitar playing and recording. “I’d never been the singer of a band and I’d never been the principal songwriter of a band,” he said. “So to me it was just this private experiment, not something that I wanted lots of people to hear, because I didn’t necessarily like my voice.”
In another interview with Rolling Stone, Grohl said that Songs From the Laundry Room was not his original choice for a Record Store Day release. He originally hoped to put out a bootleg of the band’s first-ever concert, which took place in Seattle in February 1995. He’s heard a copy of it, but has since lost track of it. He’s currently on the hunt for it. “It’s kind of like some Raiders of the Lost Ark shit,” he said with a laugh.
Grohl, who took the Record Store Day Ambassador title seriously and played a gig at an Ohio LP shop, was also positive about another RSD exclusive: Metallica’s No Life ‘Til Leather cassette. “I bought the first Metallica album on cassette from a mail-order catalog in 1983,” Grohl recently told Creative Loafing. “I had never heard of them. I didn’t know anything about them other than they had a cool name, and the description said ‘thrash metal.’ I didn’t even know what that meant.
“I had listened to tons of punk rock music, and I loved Motörhead, but thrash metal? That sounded scary and cool,” added the singer. “So I sent them my $6 or $7, and a couple weeks later I get this tape in the mail. It was Kill ‘Em All and it blew my fucking mind. I will be a diehard Metallica fan until the day I die because of that experience…. So when I heard they were releasing their first demo I thought, ‘Kick ass! And it’s on a cassette, too!’ That’s going to be a lot of fun.”