LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE September ??, 1991 - London, UK

Liz Evans
Kurt Cobain
Krist Novoselic
Dave Grohl
Publisher Title Transcript
Deadline "Nevermind" the GRUNGE, here's NIRVANA" Yes

Once there was The Grunge. It was massive and messy and emanated like a rumbling from your nightmare. An aural chaos spewed forth from a bucketful of hopes and realisations. Prepared with a handful of loud guitars, propelled through a clutch of prehistoric amps and speakers, and penetrated into a desperate core of rattling hearts, The Grunge spoke authentically to the longhaired kids of America (and I don't mean the ones who wore hairspray). The Grunge meant bloody business.

Nowadays you don't hear so much about the grunge. fever broke and melted, like it always does, bands rose and fell, like they always do. The Sub Pop romance turned sour for some (although Mudhoney still stay true) and the geographical phenomena was put to bed. But a brave A&R man at MCA/Geffen remembered something. How he was struck by Nirvana! How he wanted to sign them up, tune them in and turn them into stardom! And so he did. Nirvana – welcome to the big, bad, boy with guitar eating world of major label record business!

So. What's it like?

“We do many more interviews,” drummer Dave Grohl, the boy from Scream (LA punks), and successor to little Chad Channing, the wistful hippy, (Nirvana's present drummer) yawns.

And you find that boring.

“No more boring than anything else,” Kurdt Kobain, the boy with the horrifically loud guitar and crazed voice yawns.

Apart from Kurdt's eviction order, Dave's new futon and giant bassist Chis Novoselic's new ice cream bowl, major label living is no different to the way it's always been. That's what Nirvana say. Rumours are the only thing. Rumours are, according to Nirvana, plaguing them like a swarm of Chinese Whispers, swelling their paltry rock pranks into works of crime and arson.

“The stories get worse,” Kurdt smiles. “The rumours are that we completely set the van on fire in Germany.”

And were sent to jail.

“See? That's great!”

They don't really care very much though. Which could be a problem, but probably won't be. Nirvana's apathy only lasts for as long as you let it.

For instance they say this:

“We're taking it less seriously now, just because we're expected to be professional. We'll fuck them off even more – but it's still natural for us to do that.”

Then they'll say this:

“It's a good thing that a lot of alternative bands are being signed up now. A lot of these bands have a lot of good ideas and good values, plus they're genuine. So when people go out and buy the record, they're actually getting something for their money.”

Like you will when you go out and buy “Nevermind”, Nirvana's first album for Geffen, and second for the world, the first being the murderous Sub Pop release, “Bleach”. “Nevermind” was produced by Butch Vig and mixed by Andy Wallace, a man who's worked with Slayer, Sepultura and Madonna, and is full of dinosaur size pop songs, curdled on waves of guitar and beaten black and blue by the resounding Novoselio bass. Rock to kill your neighbours with. And much, much more besides…

“We know that some of our songs are simple enough to be played on the radio.” Kurt says, “Geffen are going to put us on every category with this record. They'll put us in the metal market and the college alternative thing, and we'll probably be able to find our singles in easy listening, hardcore, classical… It'll stick in small percentages everywhere. Which is great because there really isn't a category for us.”

Kurdt is the madness in Nirvana. He writes the songs and he seems to be the only one who feels them too. The aforementioned apathy and tedious clowning around comes mainly from Chris and Dave. When Kurdt says something his eyes shine. He doesn't bother too much with wasting breath. His songs balance on the web woven between nature and culture. How one affects the other, where one meets the other.

“Culture and nature are both arbitrary. They feed off each other. But I don't know what I'm saying when I'm writing. I never have any definite feelings about it until we're pretty much finished. It's not very conscious. Most of it's just my bitching and complaining about man's gluttony and selfishness that bothers me more than anything.”


“Yeah, you have to be cynical. You have to break it down into percentages, you have to be serious and cynical at the same time.”

And now Dave says something serious about Chris.

“Chris's philosophy is the best – cynicism as a defence mechanism.”

But why the need for defence? (Now we're swinging!)

“So you don't look ridiculous,” replies Kurt. “So you don't seem obsessed with voicing your opinions. Our opinions aren't any more righteous than anybody else's, so it'd be really embarrassing to just attack something over and over in a serious manner.”

“It's a defence so you don't freak out,” offers Chris. “Like a safety valve.”

“I used to be really good at blocking everything out. I was a real stoner child,” Dave confesses.

“I have a hard time doing that now,” says Kurdt. “I used to be able to do it a lot easier, I used to be able to block things out of my mind.”

Now he writes songs.

“It's totally therapeutic, it's much better than holding things inside because eventually you'll explode with so much confusion. Everybody freaks out at the wrong times.”

Making sense of Nirvana is a task the boys themselves have obviously ruled out. Theirs is a secret spell, harboured from within and fiercely guarded. You can only really approach it through the medium. Music. Not necessarily a bad thing, but you can't help wondering why they're so protective. Still, The Grunge (which they say is no more) is in the heart, and that's a hard place to fathom.

So, from a distant dot on the map of the States, far, far away from the dreaded LA and the greedy NYC, to – world domination? (“We've learned about bragging about world domination”). Major labeldom will do. Nirvana have the subconscious, they have the songs and they now have the money. They can react all they like, misbehaving, refusing to cooperate, teasing, (albeit foolishly). It doesn't really matter. What does matter is the size of the noise. And it's huge. Nevermind the rest.

© Liz Evans, 1991