Mike Hibarger
Kurt Cobain
Krist Novoselic
Chad Channing
Publisher Title Transcript
Thang! Video Zine Interview with Nirvana at Man Ray, Cambridge 4-18-1990 Yes

We can talk about… we can talk about your records.

Kurt Cobain: Talk about our records? Well…

Krist Novoselic: We wanted to put out a 3-record set…

KC: Pop-up, fold-out, gatefold sleeve, but Sub Pop wouldn't go for it. We wanted to have Henry Mancini [inaudible] H.R. Pufnstuf set, but it didn't work out.

KN: Instead of a sleeve, it would've been like a velvet… like a Crown Royal bag, you know, the inside would be really fluffy. Instead of vinyl, we were gonna have diamond cut leather grooved, you’d put it on your turntable and it’d play…

So, how old are you guys?

KC: We're all in our 20s, middle 20s.

OK, cuz someone was telling me you were, like, 18 or something like that...

KC: What do we look like?

Chad Channing: We used to be.

KN: Ya, I used to be 18

KC: I used to be 18.

CC: I was once 18!

KN: [sings] “I'm 18 and I like it.”

KC: [sings] “Mom and Dad's got me drinkin' whiskey”

So, how's touring?

KC: Beautiful.

Big crowds?

KC: Huge! Stadiums… stage-diving… groupies…

KN: Cocaine…

KC: Home-grown marijuana cigarettes and wine… Annie Green Springs.

KN: Annie Green Springs, yeah. [laughs] Apple Quencher and Strawberry…

CC: And Band-Aids. Band-Aids.

What do you guys think of Seattle labels…

KC: What do we think of Seattle?

The labels and the press…

KC: The label, Sub Pop…

KN: We don't live in Seattle.

KC: We don't know.

KN: We don't know, we don't live in Seattle. We live outside Seattle. I live in Tacoma, Washington.

KC: Home of the Smelter smell… white trash…

KN: Helter Smelter. Muscle cars and crack cocaine.

KC: And the Nuge.

KN: And the Nuge. [laughs]

CC: [inaudible] deer… on the silent.

KN: He's a deer farmer.

KC: He frollocks naked in the grass with deer, feeds them berries.

CC: There's a ferry boat that connects me to the world of Seattle.

KC: It's a real hassle to get him to practice, sometimes he has to take a little u-boat across instead. I live in the capital of Washington state, Olympia, it's real conservative.

KN: It's liberal.

KC: Bullshit!

CC: Liberal conservative.

KC: Liberal conservative…

KN: Mainstream alternative.

KC: With Sheriffs who raped and mutilated 2 teenagers in a Satanic ritual.

CC: Yeah, that really happened.

Isn't that where the rainforest is?

KN: All over Washington was, that's where the rainforest was. Washington state, the clear-cut state. Are we environmentalists?

KC: Sure! It's hip to be environmentalist now!

KN: Yeah, that's right…

KC: MTV taught me everything I know!

KN: Yeah… a tree… by the time… by the time I'm gonna say this sentence, a 100 acres of rainforest was cut down! See, I know my environmentalism.

CC: That's 100 acres too much.

KN: Please recycle.

CC: Please recycle.

KN: [in a babyish voice] Please recycle.

CC: [in a babyish voice] Recycle.

KC: [in a babyish voice] If I squeeze a tennis ball, I might be as good as Yngwie Malmsteen, building up the muscles in my hands.

KN: [plays air guitar]

KC: Someday… someday I'll be just as good. I've got my back-issues of Guitar Player magazine.

So what were the first songs you guys ever jammed on?

KN: Floyd The Barber, Spank Thru…

KC: Uhh… Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves.

KN: Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves; White Lace And Strange by Thunder and Roses, not Guns N Roses.

KC: [inaudible]

KN: We had some kinda psychedelic songs… kinda deranged, raunch- we had a song called “Rauchola” that was really weird, raunchy.

KC: We had a song called “Aero Zeppelin.”

KN: We had a song called “Aero Zeppelin,” we did.

KC. We were more Punk Rock at the time, kinda like Scratch Acid rip-offs.

So how did you guys meet and come together?

KN: Well, Kurt and I originally lived in a small community in Washington, we just kinda found each other because, uhh…

KC: There's not too many people in that small community that like Punk Rock.

KN: Yeah, yeah.

KC: It wasn't too hard…

KN: You meet somebody, “Oh, it's just another one of those fuckin' geeks! Hey, man!” Then we fell in love… it's been great, we're married…

KC: Then we fell in love with each other's Fathers.

KN: Yeah. That's the most… like Father & Son, Fathers & Sons relationships are really heavy. We, like, swap Fathers and stuff.

KC: We're part of the Man-love-boy Association.

KN: Yeah. We met through our Fathers. Our Fathers were kinda notorious in our town.

So how did you get into Punk Rock, being in a small, isolated town?

KC: I read Circus magazine when I was in 6th Grade and I thought Punk Rock was really cool, just by following the Sex Pistols tour, “Wow, man! That's really neat! I'd like to cut-up myself and get drunk all the time.”

KN: I met a man named Buzz Osborne, who is now the geetar picker for the Melvins, and he turned me on to the world of Punk Rock!

KC: Yeah, the first Punk Rock I heard was Black Flag ‘Damaged II,’ it was kind of a hit in the face to hear something that extreme right away, but I liked it right away pretty much…

KN: Yeah, you know… I started…

KC: It took me a week.

KN: Yeah, it took me about a week, too. I was listening to Punk Rock going, “I dunno about this stuff,” and I was listening to Generic Flipper and I heard it for the 2nd or 3rd time and it was just like a revelation: “This is awesome! This is an awesome record! Flipper is God! This is great!”

KC: They still are…

KN: Yeah, Flipper is God. Ever since then, my life took a change for the better. It could take a change for you, too.

So how has your sound evolved from the early Scratch Acid rip-off sound…?

KC: Well, just, I don't know… I was into Hard Rock before I was into Punk Rock, like Led Zeppelin, you know, stuff like that, Motorhead. I was just always looking for something harder and heavier, so then I got into Punk Rock. It was just pretty obvious that we liked Punk Rock and then we started listening to old Aerosmith records again and realized, “It really isn't that bad, we shouldn't really deny it.” Like, I sold my record collection, I sold my record collection for $12 to see D.O.A… that was a stupid mistake, now I have to buy all those Hard Rock records over again.

At least you can still get them.

KC: Yeah.

How about the other bands in Seattle, the earlier bands - did those influence you? Did you go to the clubs and hang-out?

KC: Yeah, yeah. I wouldn't say Seattle bands influenced us.

More just the out of town…?

KN: We've all been going to clubs in Seattle for a long time.

KC: Yeah… [inaudible]

CC: [inaudible] shows a lot, cuz they were easy to get to. It was really easy to get to shows - just pop on a boat and I was there - so I saw bands all the time.

KN: There was, like, the Gorilla Gardens and the Metropolis…

CC: I think I went to most of my shows in, like, ‘82. I used to go to shows all the time, I wouldn't even know what they were…

KC: Yeah, just anything that was Punk Rock, you'd just go to it.

Um… talk about, like, when you record- when you record with Jack Endino - what's that like?

CC: Well, Jack Endino [inaudible]

KC: It's a constant battle!

KN: He beats the shit out of us!

KC: Yeah. He's a real fucker!

CC: [laughs]

KC: He's a great guy, a beautiful person. I don't know, he sets up microphones and [inaudible] record.

CC: He just sorta lays it out.

What does he do for your sound?

KC: I don't know… it's a secret, he won't even tell us. He just records well, I don't know. We didn't spend a lot of time on that last record, really.

CC: It's because he's tone deaf.

KC: Yeah, he's tone deaf. He's got Legionnaires Disease.

Well, one thing I noticed about the last record is, it could have all sounded really ‘same-y,’ but it doesn't.

CC: Really what?

KC: Similar? Yeah, um…

He gets a variety of different sounds.

KC: Yeah, well, see, some of the songs- 2 or 3 songs were recorded with Dale Crover of the Melvins, so those were different sessions, recorded a year earlier than that.

KN: Love Buzz is a different session…

KC: Yeah, Love Buzz is a different session.

KN: Big Cheese.

CC: So he sorta had a small idea what we were looking for, I suppose.

KN: And now, you know, we mix every song individually. Whatever the song needs, you know, we try to do for it, for that song.

How many hours do you spend- did you spend in the studio?

KN: Well, you know, it usually takes about an hour to mix a song, it just happens, you know? Well, I don't know, we mixed 1 song for 6 hours and it still didn't work out…

KC: It depends, I guess…

KN: If it works, leave it alone, you know what I mean?!

KC: Bleach was really easy, it didn't take more than 2 hours for any song.

The next record is recorded or…?

KC: Some of it, some of the songs we did with Butch Vig.

Oh, yeah?

KC: Yeah.

How did that work out?

KC: Thumbs up, it really worked out well.

Oh, yeah? In Madison?

KC: Yeah, going for the Madison sound this time.

Oh, yeah. I lived there for 7 years.

KC: Cool.

I don't know Butch, but I know Killdozer. Butch is from [inaudible]

KC: Yeah, that's probably what attracted us to him, the Killdozer drum sound, we wanted to try and get that. It actually didn't turn out that way, we ended up getting our own sound, cuz Butch is a really versatile guy, he knows how to get those hot sounds! He turns knobs really well.

KN: The sounds people want to hear!

KC: [laughs]

KN: We wanted to have songs of the Vietnam era.

So, um, you recorded it with Butch and you're gonna record, like, a few more songs back in Seattle?

KC: Yeah, when we write 'em… we don't have a lot of songs right now.

KN: We might go back to Madison and record 'em, we don't know.

KC: Yeah, we might.

KN: See, we don't like to…

KC: It's working out so good, we may as well just go back to Madison, but… I mean, there's no reason why we decided to go with him and not with Jack, other than Jack wasn't available at the time we wanted to record, he was doing a Blue Cheer record in Sweden or something.

Yeah, I heard he was doing that.

KC: Yeah.

Is that one of your influences?

KC: Definitely.

KN: I love 'em! I love 'em…

CC: Ah, wait! Yeah.

KN: Not only are they a great band, but they're great guys too!

CC: Wait!

KN: The hardest working people in showbusiness…

CC: Wait! Ah… yeah!

KN: I know…

CC: Yeah! Wait! Yeah… ah!

KN: Next question.

KC: We're smoking together, we're all smoking.

KN: Did you get it? We're smoking together, man. That is so heavy, that we're all smoking together.

CC: Smoking… Inhale the…

KC: Your smoke is bothering me, will you extinguish your cigarette?

CC: Yes.

KN: Don't ask me for a smoke!

So what else inspires you?

KN: Uh… well, uh… sunset, beautiful mountains…

CC: The environment, there you go! I love re-lit cigarettes, mmm, they're the best tasting…

KN: Moonlit night… a moonlit night underneath the trees and tall grass.

KC: Hey, that's enough! I don't know… Punk Rock [inaudible]. We'll never lose our roots, man! We'll never sell out!

What direction are you headed in? More records with Sub Pop?

KC: Yeah, well, we signed a contact for 3 records, so we've got 2 more. We could always change our name and go to a major. We could just alter our name, you know, just put another ‘AN’ in our name, NIRVANA-NA.’


KC: Screw 'em over big time.

KN: NIRVA NA NA… like Sha Na Na?

KC: Yeah.

Isn't there another band named Nirvana?

KC: Yeah, there's a lot of them. There's a lot of Glam bands in L.A. and… the '60s band…

Oh, Okay.

KC: Late '60s band, totally pretentious dickhead Prog Rock, Bee Gees-type of… melodic… God, what would you call ‘em?

KN: They're worse than the Bee Gees.

KC: They're just crap! They're so sickening.

CC: They're from New York, I think.

KC: No, they're from England. They're threatening to sue us. We're not scared. We've got the greatest lawyer in the world. We've got Guns N Roses’ lawyer!

Do you?

KC: Yeah.

CC: That's what we've been told, anyway.

KC: Yeah. That's what our high-powered manager, Reuben Kincaid, would say.

CC: [laughs] Reuben Kincaid.

KC: I stole that line from Bobcat Goldthwaite. He's a great comedian, have you ever seen him?


KN: We interviewed Bobcat Goldthwaite once.

KC: Yeah! We met him and interviewed him in Ann Arbor

CC: Ann Arbor. Yeah, last Summer. We were there for, like, a Midwest tour.

Did you interview him?

KC: Yeah…

CC: Yeah, yeah, over the radio.

What did you interview him for, just a radio show or…?

KC: It was a radio show.

KN: Well, we had a show the night before and he had a show that night…

CC: He sorta interviewed us…

KC: Well, yeah…

KN: We just asked him a question…

KC: We were just awestruck.

KN: He's pretty much of a mellow guy, you know, sitting there talking, and then we asked him a question and he goes into the microphone “Woahhhh!” He just lit up!

CC: So, you know, I personally don't think that he's funny, but I like him, he's a great guy. That's just my opinion, though. I’m not an asshole. [laughs]

KN: You're always contradicting us…

KC: Yes, Chad…

KN: Always, always, always.

KC: You're the next to go.

CC: I'm next on the list, by the way.

KN: You better start looking over your shoulder, mother fucker!

KC: Are you gonna ask the Jason questions now?

Oh, yeah! I was gonna ask- I was gonna ask that. What's it like playing as a 3-piece?

KN: We were originally a 3-piece.

KC: We were a 3-piece for 2 years before, so it's no big deal. I mean, we want another guitar player, cuz I’m such a shitty guitar player that I couldn't really be a great frontman and play guitar. But now that I've studied tablature in Guitar World magazine, I've gotten a lot better.

CC: Arpeggios!

KC: Arpeggios, arpeggios…

KN: We also got…

CC: Arpeggios!

KN: We got… I got Kurt a book, “I'm okay, you're okay”…

KC: The Dorian mode!

KN: It boosts his self esteem a lot, you know, he feels a lot better. Also, we have a lot of talks, walkin' down the creek…

KC: A lot of therapy.

KN: Late night chats by the fireside. I straightened his fuckin' ass out! But let me tell you 1 thing: he steps 1 fuckin' hair out of line and I'll fuckin' batter his ass so hard, his head'll spin!

So what happened to Jason?

KN: He's the bass player for Soundgarden.

But I mean…

KN: That's what happened.

He just… up and left?

CC: Well, actually, they were having try-outs and he just went ahead and did it… I dunno, maybe he had a feeling…

KN: He wasn't really- he wasn't really in the band anymore. It just didn't work out.

KC: During the week we kicked him out, he tried-out for Soundgarden - it worked out awesome.

KN: We're very happy for him.

CC: We like the guy still, you know…

KC: We love him.

CC: He's a good friend of ours and all that, we just [sings] “had our different ways”!

KC: I couldn't be happier for him really cuz, you know, some of the stuff we're writing now- what we were trying to write at the time he was in the band was more melodic, you know, so… Some of the songs we recorded with Butch are… like what I was saying earlier, kinda like Leonard Cohen, manic depressive, acoustic stuff, a couple of songs, you know? We're experimenting with more Pop stuff. We're still writing heavy stuff, too…

More along the lines of Been A Son?

KC: Kinda, yeah. Power Pop. But, I mean, we're not totally changing over, it's just that Jason didn't like that idea.

No, he wants…

KC: He just wanted to play more heavy- he liked the heavier, grungier stuff. We had a few songs that we hadn't recorded that he really liked and we didn't want to do them - mainly, I didn't want to do them, cuz I'm such a dictator - and we just didn't mesh, you know?

Clash of the Titans.

KC: Yeah, we duked it out. I kicked his ass before he could [inaudible]… beat the fuck out of him.

KN: Kurt pulled out these dragon teeth from his pocket, and these skeletons came up and they had this big duel. Total clash of the Titans.

CC: I bought some Band-Aids.

KN: I'll have some 'Aids.

KC: I'll have a bowl of Aids…

CC: I- I broke a couple of fingers, so I bought some Band-Aids.

KC: And cup of Hepatitis.

CC: Unfortunately, there's just pure plastic, I wanted to get the stretchy kind [inaudible], but oh well. That's my purchase…

I've gotta save some battery…

© Mike Hibarger, 2020