LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE September 25, 1991 - Providence, RI, US

David M. Earle
Dave Grohl
Publisher Title Transcript
Scene Nirvana: never mind the silly string Yes

“We have our luggage carrier, and a shoe polisher and a personal masseuse and a Cheese Whiz server,” says Nirvana's David Grohl from a Rhode island hotel room, He's describing their tour, the same tour that will bring them to Empire on Thursday, October 10. He goes on to tell about the tour manager who has a fax machine and a full Marshall stack speaker phone. All this while the rest of the band sprays him with silly string. It must be fun.

“No, it's hell!” he screams. “Help me. Get me out of here!”

This may be the first time you've heard of Nirvana, but it certainly won't be the last. Nirvana are on the verge of something big. There's been plenty of hype about this band since they signed to Geffen Records for their newest release, NEVERMIND. What's so unique about Nirvana is that all the hype is true.

For the past few years, Seattle has been the fashionable new music capitol of the U.S. Kind of the Manchester of America. Sub Pop Records, the people who brought you SoundGarden, have been the energy behind the Northwest music movement, it was on this innovative label that Nirvana's first LP, BLEACH, was recorded. For an independent record, BLEACH did remarkably well, selling around 70,000 copies worldwide. Little wonder that Nirvana were picked up by a major label so quickly.

David Grohl, the drummer and newest member of Nirvana, joined a little over a year ago when his former band, Washington D.C.'s Scream, broke up. Grohl was originally born in Youngstown and raised in Columbus. Other members of Nirvana include singer/guitarist/songwriter Kurt Cobain and bassist Chris Novoselic. Together they form an incredibly tight raw rock trio. Melodic power riffs and onslaught drums will make you grin, your grandmother shudder and your neighbors frown. Kobain's melodies and gravelly voice will grab you and not let go. They've gained a large following both in America and Britain,

Shortly after Grohl's move to Seattle, Nirvana toured England. It was then that he realized what he had gotten himself into. “The response was overwhelming.” says Grohl. *l was in the band about three weeks when we went to England. It was great. There was lots of hype about Nirvana. The whole Northwest thing caught people's attention.”

Don't think that Nirvana is coasting on the fashionable aspect of being from Seattle, Nirvana offers the best of raw guitar riff energy mixed with the catchiest of melodies. BLEACH, the band's debut, gained a devoted audience with its heavy, but melodic barrage of raw rock and roll. Songs like “Negative Creep” showed Nirvana masters of pure punk angst, while “Sifting” proved them capable of the introspective grind side of things. The album was recorded in 1989 for 600 dollars.

Nirvana's second album, NEVERMIND, released this September, exhibits a more mature band. “It's a lot cleaner” says Grohl, “There's still as much energy, but it does have a cleaner, punchier, sharper sound to it.”

The new album took over a month to record and mix, and is 24 tracks, compared to the eight-track BLEACH. Obviously a lot of care went into production.

Even though half of the material on NEVERMIND was already written when BLEACH was recorded, it does have a lighter sound. There are more slow songs and no all-out, mega-riff tunes like “Negative Creep.”

“That's because before we ever get on stage there are six or seven boneheads yelling ‘Negative Creep,’” mimics Grohi in his best stoned voice.

Just because the alternative music crowd is so defensive, many people are ready to label an independent band who goes to a big label as sellouts. Grohl isn't worried about that.

"The people who are quick to say ‘sellout’ aren't the people who will buy the album anyway,” he says. “People just have to realize that BLEACH is two and a half years old, and a lot has happened since then. Kurt's been writing a lot of songs, and this album is really melodic. It's still the same band live.”

Grohl describes Nirvana's songwriting process as just jamming on a riff that Kurt would come up with until it's a song. “Then we usually forget it,” he laughs. “So we bought a tape recorder, but then we lost the tapes.”

Another reason for the jump to a major label was to give Nirvana's albums the distribution they deserve. Grohl complains that on the last tour, kids were constantly asking where to get BLEACH. With all the exposure that Nirvana will get from NEVERMIND and their new video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” it won't be hard to find their stuff in the stores, unless it's sold-out. “Teen Spirit,” the video, can be seen on MTV as a “hip clip” and on “120 Minutes.”

Yes, the future of Nirvana looks mighty bright. After this tour, there'll be a European tour and, in January, a tour of Japan. A few years ago, it would have been almost unheard of for an alternative band to tour Japan. “Now it's not as impossible as it sounds,” says Grohl.

Why is it possible now? “I think that the whole indie rock market is opening up to a lot more people,” he says. “Bands like us are getting a lot more airplay. Every time another band comes out, doors open for other bands. Eventually it'll all be bands like us and Sonic Youth, All the rock stars will be dead. My friends Dylan and Slim will kill them all.”

So, watch the headlines. ‘When Elton John dies in a freak accident, we'll know who to blame. Until then, the guys from Nirvana will hang out in hotels, play video games. drink and spray each other with silly string. And of course they'll keep playing raw rock and roll. They better hope they don't get too big.

© David M. Earle, 1991