After a brief and unsuccessful dalliance with the trombone, Dave Grohl's musical career got a kick start in 1981. Aged twelve, he was given his first electric guitar - a 1963 Sears Silvertone - as a Christmas present from his parents. He had already been playing a borrowed acoustic guitar for a couple of years previous, and even took lessons, although he found the authoritarian method of learning boring. He instead preferred to learn by playing along to his favorite records by artists such as The Beatles and Rush.
By the age of 15, he had become proficient enough on the guitar to play publicly with friends, entering (and losing) several 'battle of the band' style contests in his home town of Arlington, Virginia. Unperturbed by the losses Grohl joined his first real band in the summer of 1984. At a local show he got talking to Brian Samuels, the bassist of a teenage punk rock four-piece by the name of Freak Baby which also featured guitarist Bryant Mason, drummer Dave Smith, and vocalist Chris Page.
Grohl and Samuels connected over their love of hardcore bands and the young guitarist soon convinced Samuels to let him join them on an upcoming band practice session. Rehearsals with the fifth member went well, the band enjoying the fuller sound that a second guitarist provided. Freak Baby was now a five-piece band although during the rehearsals they did quickly realize there was a small issue in that there were now two members of the band named Dave. To avoid any confusion Dave Grohl decided to go by the portmanteau ‘Grave’ in future, whilst Dave Smith similarly would be referred to as 'Smave'.
By late 1984 the band was as rehearsed as five teenagers could be and with a handful of songs in their repertoire they wanted to do what all aspiring bands do – record their first demo. The teenagers couldn't afford time in a large, professional studio but luckily for them, the brother of vocalist Chris Page was friends with a local musician who also recorded bands in his home-cum-recording space, Laundry Room Studio. Barrett Jones was himself only 18 but had just started experimenting with recording and had set up a studio of sorts in the basement of the Jones family home, the laundry room acting as a control room – hence the name. Freak Baby arrived at the studio on November 11th, 1984 and over the course of just one working day the band put eight of their best songs to tape, thus forming their first demo.
The recording session was not without issue, Barrett Jones noting that the young band was still learning their craft - drummer Dave Smith, in particular, was struggling with the fast-pasted hardcore style drum work the songs called for. “They had the passion but needed some practice,” said Jones. The young producer (a title he never attributed to himself until over a decade later) also noticed during recording that one member of the band was “way too hyper, bouncing off the walls, knocking stuff over” - that member was, unsurprisingly, Dave Grohl. Equipment was naturally lo-fi for the session, the band having to make do with just the four tracks on Jones Tascam 34 reel-to-reel tape machine, recorded onto 1/4 inch magnetic tape. By this point, Grohl had upgraded from his Silvertone to a Memphis 'Les Paul style' guitar.
The group quickly dubbed cassette copies of the demo and created home-made J-card inserts in true punk rock DIY style, even convincing D.C. area music store ‘Smash!’ to sell the cassettes. Copies of this demo tape do not currently circulate widely in the present day.