LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE August 23, 1991 - Reading, UK

Interviewer(s)
Rick Hankey
Interviewee(s)
Kurt Cobain
Krist Novoselic
Dave Grohl
Publisher Title Transcript
MTV 120 Minutes TBC
MTV Hangin' With MTV Yes
MTV TBC Yes
MTV.com Nirvana Play The Reading Fest In 1991 Yes

TBC

© MTV Networks, 1991

Krist: We met each other because we kinda… we lived in a small town and then all the kinda disenfranchised- disenfranchised kids kinda found each other… and then we found punk rock.

Kurt: I was supposed to go to Texas or New York to go to art school and… I decided I'd rather be in a band.

Kurt: Yeah, I had been playing guitar for about three years before I started a band. I couldn't find anyone in my hometown to play with till I met Krist.

© MTV Networks, 1992

MTV: Uh, Nirvana means freedom from pain and…

Kurt: Suffering and the external world, that's just the Webster's dictionary… I mean, that's just right out of the Webster's dictionary…

MTV: Right, and you said as far as you can tell that's what punk means to you. That's not why you chose the name then?

Kurt: Now I remember, yeah, that's why, sure!

MTV: I don't wanna harp on about the name…

Kurt: Yeah, it doesn't matter…

MTV: OK.

Kurt: It'll be a household word in no time.

MTV: So how long did it take after you met to form the band? Did it happen right away, or?

Krist: It didn't happen right away.

Kurt: Yeah, I had been playing guitar for about three years before I started a band. I couldn't find anyone in my hometown to play with till I met Krist.

MTV: What were you listening to growing up? What do you think is most responsible for the way you sound?

Kurt: Well, first it was The Beatles, then it was punk rock, that's about it…

Dave: Well, everybody crucifies bands when they sign to a major off of an independent because they immediately think, 'Oh, big sell out, big cars…'

Krist: What's wrong with a band that has good music, like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., to be readily available to people to buy? Like, totally promoted, instead of most of the garbage that's out there? It's a crime! It's just total sappy junk pushed down people's throats, so, here's some stuff, y'know, with substance.

© MTV Networks, 1991

MTV: First of all, can you guys tell… I thought it was really cool, the story of why you chose your name, sort of the real meaning of "Nirvana" and how you tie it into punk… can you guys tell us that story?

Novoselic: You tell us the story! Is there a story?!

Cobain: I don't know… where did you hear the story?

MTV: Oh, it was something I read…

Grohl: You know the bio is just one big joke!

MTV: What the actual word "Nirvana" means…

Novoselic: Here's a story about a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls…

Grohl: [laughs]

Cobain: It's just an Aesop fable… there's no story to it…

Novoselic: Yeah…

MTV: There's no...

Novoselic: Deep allegory, kinda like connotations…

MTV: There's no story, like what punk means to you and what Nirvana means? That's totally bogus?

Novoselic: Oh, that punk is musical freedom…

MTV: That's it.

Novoselic: And "Nirvana" is freedom from pain…

Cobain: Well, when I…

Grohl: Well, that's all a lie because everyone knows that punk is just money.

Novoselic: [laughs] Yeah!

Cobain: Or not.

Grohl: Or not.

Cobain: When I did the interview for that bio, it was 9 o'clock in the morning and I was hungover, so I don't know what I said, I don't even remember.

MTV: Well, the way it went - that I read it - was "Nirvana" means freedom from pain and…

Cobain: Suffering in the external world. That's just the Webster's Dictionary… I mean, that's just right out of the Webster's Dictionary…

MTV: Right, and you said, as far as you could tell, that's what punk means to you, so it was a perfect name…

Cobain: Yeah.

MTV: That's not why you chose the name then?

Cobain: Now I remember! Yeah, that's why, sure.

MTV: I don't want to harp on about the name…

Cobain: Yeah, it doesn't matter…

MTV: OK.

Cobain: It'll be a household word in no time.

MTV: OK then, if there was a second definition…

Cobain: [whispers] Dave, do you have a light? Does anyone have a light?

MTV: Yeah. If, ummm…

Cobain: Oh, I'm supposed to be hurt. [laughs]

MTV: If Webster was a big Nirvana fan, then, and he felt inclined to put in a second definition saying what you guys…

Grohl: Yeah. but once he got that TV show he totally sold out!

Novoselic: Yeah, Emmanuel Lewis…

Cobain: Yeah, that guy…

Novoselic: Has the most amazing vocabulary, let me tell you!

Cobain: [laughs]

Novoselic: You know, that little guy is pretty impressive!

Novoselic: Oh, Nirvana would be… oh, it would be… uh…

Cobain: [laughs]

Novoselic: [blows raspberry] How do you spell that? T-p-p-p-p, right?

Grohl: [blows raspberry]

Novoselic: No, T-t-t-p-p-p.

MTV: It would be a first.

Novoselic: That's what Webster would say.

MTV: Were you all originally art students or was it just 2 of you? That's how you met…

Novoselic: We never graduated from High School, man!

Grohl: I didn't even graduate from High School…

Novoselic: We're drop-outs! [laughs]

Grohl: I was never an art student! The closest I got to art was smoking pot in my bedroom and scribbling band logos, you know…

Cobain: If we would have graduated, we would have been art students.

Novoselic: [laughs]

MTV: But that's what you had in common from the beginning, is that kinda how you met?

Novoselic: Well, Kurt would have had… was gonna have an art scholarship.

Cobain: I won a scholarship…

Novoselic: But he dropped-out 2… he dropped out in May, senior year!

Cobain: It was too much reality for me! I was supposed to go to Texas or New York to go to art school and I decided that I'd rather be in a band.

MTV: Were you able to use the money for anything else? Did they give it to you?

Cobain: No, they didn't give it to me! I was supposed to take it, but I didn't.

MTV: So how long did it take after you met to form the band? Did it happen right away, or?

Novoselic: It didn't happen right away.

Cobain: Yeah, I had been playing guitar for about three years before I started a band. I couldn't find anyone in my hometown to play with till I met Krist.

MTV: What were you listening to growing up? What do you think is most responsible for the way you sound? Or was it even music?

Kurt: Well, first it was The Beatles, then it was punk rock, that's about it…

MTV: Well, the melody is certainly there in your songs, I can see that.

Cobain: Yeah.

MTV: Umm, you guys had the record out on [inaudible] …no, on Sub Pop… the other 2 that are… oh right, on Sub Pop and this new one's is your major label debut - did you take the same kinda shit that maybe Sonic Youth took or something for…

Novoselic: I dunno, we haven't really got it.

Grohl: Well, everybody crucifies bands when they sign to a major off of an independent because they immediately think, "Oh, big sell out, big cars, big fast…"

Novoselic: Yeah…

Grohl: You know, it's just, you know…

Novoselic: Maybe we just wanted to keep our lights on every month. All our money went to buy for bombs and missiles, we got taxed so heavily, but what's wrong with a band that has good music, like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., to be readily available to people to buy? Like, totally promoted, instead of most of the garbage that's out there? It's a crime! It's just total sappy junk pushed down people's throats, so, here's some stuff, you know, with substance. What's wrong with that? Putting it out. I don't know, they're probably jealous of us, of our success…

Cobain: [laughs]

MTV: Have you guys played festivals before?

Novoselic and Grohl: No.

MTV: Is this your first one?

Novoselic and Grohl: Yes.

MTV: What do you think?

Grohl: It's great, everybody's drunk… the weather was awful when we got here, then the bands started playing and the weather turned great…

Novoselic: It's perfect weather, there's a cool breeze flowing on everybody… it's pleasant!

Grohl: It's cool because you don't need those fans, you know, like fans that blow your hair while you're playing for that image thing… it's more of a Mother Nature deal.

Cobain: It's better than a Puppet Show.

Grohl: Yeah.

MTV: How does it compare to small gigs?

Grohl: To smaller gigs? There's a lot more people.

Cobain: [laughs]

MTV: Nothing else?

Grohl: There's a bigger PA.

Novoselic with a sock puppet: Well, I think at smaller gigs, it's a lot more intimate… it's a lot more intimate with people…

Grohl and Cobain: [laughs]

MTV: Do you get nervous, or do…

Grohl: I was pretty nervous.

Novoselic with a sock puppet: I felt pretty good… or he felt pretty good... [laughs]

Grohl: [sniffs sock] God, Krist!

Novoselic with a sock puppet: Because he had had a few beers and it kinda loosened him up; he actually likes playing in front of people.

Cobain: He's a people person.

Novoselic with a sock puppet: He's a people person.

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