The youngest of four children, Dave grew up in Gig Harbor, Washington. Early inspirations included Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Police, and Neil Young. In high school, Dave began playing locally in the Seattle/Tacoma area. His first band was called Outrigger and was formed with his friends from school.
In 1990, Dave was recruited in by bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard to be the drummer for Pearl Jam. He recorded the band’s debut album, Ten, which was released in August of 1991 on Epic Records. The album produced three hit singles: "Alive", "Even Flow", and "Jeremy" and has been certified diamond by the RIAA in the United States. Over 13.5 million copies of the album have been sold and it’s been listed among the “greatest albums of all times” by Rolling Stone Magazine, VH1 and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, among others. The album was re-issued in 2009 in four editions. In 1994, he co-founded Diamond Star Halo with Aaron Seravo. The band was completed by Singer Bo Bligh and bassist Steve Martin, and released their first record in 1995 tilted "In The Rough" on Regal Recordings, which was mixed by Kelly Grey and produced by Cristopher Thorn of Blind Melon and Kevin Martin of Candlebox. In the mid-1990s, Dave joined Beth Liebling and Ryan Shinn in the band Hovercraft to tour and record the album Akathisia (1997).
In 1997, Dave joined Candlebox and recorded the album Happy Pills (1998). Years later, he recorded eight tracks on their album, Into the Sun (2008), Love Stories and Other Musings (2012), Disappearing in Airports (2016), and their latest album, Wolves (2021).
In 2000, Dave played played drums with Brad Smith, Christopher Thorn and Chris Shinn in Unified Theory on its self-titled album.
Since then, Dave has recorded and/or performed with Foo Fighters, Ida Maria, Jack Tempchin, Rick Rosas, Rami Jaffee, Jonny Kaplan, Christopher Thorn, Brad Smith, D. Henry Fenton, La La La Birdtime, Jeff Levitz, Chris “Wag" Wagner, Jessy Green, Fauntella Crow, Rob Lyons, Lowlight, George Stanford, Foster Timms, John Pringle, Cheyenne Kimball, Chris Robinson, Jonathan Wilson, Carrie Akre, Shawn Smith, Novatone, Nine50nine, and many other talented artists.
In 2017, he was inducted with the band Pearl Jam, into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and in 2020 the album Ten inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.