The X version was produced by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who also played organ on it. The Grohl-ified version features Dave’s signature thundering drums, as well as his take on the original’s Black Sabbath-like attack of fuzzed-out guitars and Manzarek’s frenzied organ breaks. In addition, budding memoirist Grohl told the unexpectedly personal story of his connection to the song in the latest “Dave’s True Stories” Instagram post.
In the story, Grohl describes how after a 1992 Nirvana tour the “world’s best penpal,” his grandma Grohl, informed him that he might be related to X drummer DJ Bonebrake; spoiler alert, her maiden name was Bonebrake. Grohl wrote that the Bonebrake family name can be traced back to Johann Christian Beinbrech, who was baptized in Switzerland in Feb. 1642, with one of his grandchildren making their way to New York in 1762.
Really long story short, after the name morphed over the years — his grams, Ruth Viola Bonebrake, was born in 1909 — he discovered X by listening to the soundtrack to the iconic doc The Decline of Western Civilization in 1983, but never made the connection. “Not to mention, everyone had ‘punk rock’ names back then,” he said, listing X singer John Doe (born John Nommensen Duchac), as well as Bobby Pyn (Germs singer Darby Crash, born Jan Paul Beahm) and his own Nirvana/Foos bandmate, guitarist Pat Smear (born Georg Ruthenberg).
“And honestly, is there a better fake name for a punk rock drummer than ‘DJ Bonebrake?'” he added. Then, years later he recorded a song with Doe, “This Loving Thing,” and took the opportunity to confirm that DJ Bonebrake was not just a clever stage name. “I gushed with pride. What could be cooler than having an American Revolutionary War soldier, a Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (Henry G. Bonebrake) and now the drummer of X, all within my family tree?” Grohl wrote.
A decade later, following a 2007 Foo Fighters show in L.A., Smear made the introduction and the two long-lost cousins had an impromptu Bonebrake backstage family reunion.
“I wanted to record a song that would not only pay tribute to the people and music that influenced me to become a musician, but also pay tribute to my long family history,” wrote Grohl by way of explaining the “Nausea” cover. “So, what better song than an X song? And what better person to sing than my daughter, Violet Grohl, another descendant of Johann Christian Breinbrech. I picked one of my favorite X songs ‘Nausea’ from their 1980 debut album, Los Angeles, and forwarded it to Violet, hoping that she would agree to my most impulsive idea.”
Violet, who has gone on tour with Grohl and the Foos and sung with dear old dad on stage and on the most recent Foos albums, was nervous at first, but Dave said she stepped up to the mic and sang with “the power and confidence of a seasoned pro as I engineered the session like a proud father, encouraging her to let it all our. I then sang my harmonies over her vocal in the chorus, our two voices blending perfectly in the mix, and we smiled upon listening to playback at full volume. It was a moment that superseded anything musical. A life moment that I will cherish forever. A family moment.”
Grohl’s post also included a snap of X in their prime and some historical Bonebrake family documents.
What Drives Us — which features interviews with a variety of road dogs, including Slash, Ringo Starr, St. Vincent and X’s Exene Cervenka — drops next Friday (April 30) on the Coda Collection through Amazon Prime Video.
Listen to “Nausea” below.