LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE September 29, 1991 - New York, NY, US

Steve Blush
Kurt Cobain
Krist Novoselic
Publisher Title Transcript
Seconds Smells Like... Nirvana Yes

The gnarliest band in the Northwest, NIRVANA are on the verge of big things.

As the phenomenal cult of personality surrounding the “Seattle sound” continues to grow by leaps and bounds, so do the fortunes of the bands of that region. Witness the tremendous attention accorded to NIRVANA’s recent major label debut, heralded at this year’s next big thing by the know-it-all rock press. Combining the dirty pop hooks of early-era Replacements (before Paul Westerberg started believing his press clippings) and the putrid grind of the best SubPop act, the trio’s Nevermind (DGC), is an epic in the making. Unlike the majority of their Northwestern musical counterparts, Nirvana aren't rich kids from the suburbs, rather a bunch of trailer park-raised white trash from the god-forsaken logging town of Aberdeen, Washington (also the home of the ill-fortuned Metal Church). We spoke to vocalist/guitarist KURT COBAIN and bassist/vocalist CHRIS NOVOSELIC the day after their sold-out NYC appearance. Ridiculously hung-over and sore after carousing until the wee morning hours (drummer David Grohl was passed out on the bed next to us during our entire conversation), this ain’t exactly the best interview you’ll ever read with this monster outfit. Suffice it to say, Nirvana let their music do the talking, and what they're saying is aurally pleasing.

SECONDS: Your press kit makes a big deal about how you guys are a bunch of art school drop-outs. Are you still involved with your artwork?

COBAIN: There’s a definite correlation between music and art. I mean, art is art, no matter what medium it’s in. I still do some paintings and drawings, I take photographs, and I like poetry, I do all that artistic stuff. I'm totally glad I did go to art school because I wouldn’t be in this band right if it weren’t for that. So, it paid off to drop out.

SECONDS: A lot of kids in the rock underground are really rich kids trying to slum it. But you guys are real life white trash, right?

COBAIN: Oh yeah, we're full-fledged white trash, we're very authentic in that regard. I never thought of punk rockers being rich kids, I always thought that the majority of punk rock bands were white trash people in the first place.

NOVOSELIC: White trash is just the color America is, basically. That's what ninety percent of the population is all about.

SECONDS: While one wouldn’t exactly call Nirvana an intellectual rock band, there is a strong element of consciousness to your whole approach.

COBAIN: We’d like to think so. I mean, we're not your typical Guns N’Roses type of band that has absolutely nothing to say. Whether we're proficient in saying what we wanna say doesn't matter, it’s just the fact that we're actually trying to communicate something different, something those cock rock bands don't.

SECONDS: Is it a battle for you trying to keep your underground aesthetic at this level?

COBAIN: It's just boring for us, to tell you the truth. There’s really no exciting story involved at all. We didn't want to be on the SubPop label anymore. We would’ve preferred to be on a independent label, but we were already under contract to SubPop, and there were no independent labels who could afford to buy us out of the contract, so we had no choice but to move on to a major label. It turned out really well. I mean, I'm sure there are a lot of corporate labels out there that are exactly what most people in the underground will think they are like: totally corporate, commercial, and have no clue as to what underground music is, aside from this hot commodity to cash in on. But our label is just perfect, everyone we're involved with knows exactly what this band is about, and know better than to suggest anything stupid. So, we're left alone to exercise out artistic freedom - which is part of our recording contract. There was no compromise involved at all, we think on the same level as our A&R man, so everything has worked out really well.

SECONDS: What do you feel became of punk rock, and what do you feel your band has retained from that whole experience?

COBAIN: We're retained punk rock energy, attitude, agressiveness and rawness.

NOVOSELIC: Awareness of society, too. That was a big part of punk rock and hardcore, open-mindedness to society’s flaws and hypocracies.

COBAIN: We really don't have much of a right to be political because we can’t really explain ourselves well enough, but we also can’t deny that side of us either because that's the type of people we are. Hopefully, some fifteen-year-old kid who listens to Guns N’Roses, at least by listening to us may get into underground music. That's all we can hope for because if they get exposed to underground music, they’ll eventually catch on and understand what it’s all about.

© Steve Blush, 1992