LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE October 17, 1991 - Lawrence, KS, US

Stephanie Simons
Krist Novoselic
Publisher Title Transcript
Tacoma News Tribune Achieving Nirvana: 'Seattle band' hits the big time with its unique blend of punk and heavy pop Yes

What happens to guys who escape the grey embrace sad timber town such as Aberdeen? "They form bands." said Chris Novoselic, former Aberdeen resident and bassist for Nirvana, the latest player on the Seattle music scene to break big nationally, Nirvana, now wrapping up a U.S. tour, comes home Thursday. The trio Novoselic, lead singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and drummer Dave Grohl will play a sold-out show Halloween night at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. It should be a great evening to hear a group that sounds like "The Knack and the Bay City Rollers being molested by Black Flag and Black Sabbath," as Cobain puts it. But before we go any further, to call this group a Seattle band, as many people do, isn't entirely accurate. Grohl, who hails from Washington, D.C., hadn't even seen Seattle until a couple of years ago, and Cobain likes to call Olympia home. Novoselic now lives on the east side of Tacoma.

"Tacoma has a good vibe," Novoselic said in a recent telephone interview from Lawrence, Kan. ("a pretty peachy place"), where the band was doing a show. "Tacoma's a lot more down-to-earth than Seattle, but Seattle's more progressive Yes, the latter is the hard-rock hot spot of the hour, teeming with happening bands such as Soundgarden (which has a member from Aberdeen. Novoselic was quick to point out).

"We're pretty good friends with the Mudhoney guys," Novoselic said, referring to the band that will open Nirvana's show. "We're not rivals. "They seem more like sonic family. In fact, Mudhoney's Dan Peters briefly played drums for Nirvana. The legend of Mudhoney begins with the release of its first single, "Touch Me, I'm Sick." in 1988. The wildly sweaty, low-tech band singer/guitarist Mark Arm, lead bassist Steve Turner, bassist No. 2 Matt Lukin and Peters - was soon caked with critical acclaim. Mudhoney is still with Sub Pop, a Seattle record company where many of the popular grungemeisters got their start.

"It's really a small town." Nirvana's Novoselic said. No, it just seems that way when all of your friends move in and out of the same bands and find a home on the same record label. It was Sub Pop that in 1989 released "Bleach," Nirvana's first album, not to mention assorted singles.

And it was a Sub Pop press release a couple of years ago that offered this message from the band:
"Nirvana sees the underground scene as becoming stagnant and more accessible to big league capitalist pig major record labels. But does Nirvana fell (sic) a moral duty to fight this cancerous evil? No way! We want to cash I and suck up to the big wigs in hopes that we too can high and…"
Well, you get the idea.
After the underground success of “Bleach” and a lengthy Spinal Tap-like succession of drummers, the band settled on Grohl. No, Nirvana drummers weren't spontaneously combusting or coming to otherwise vile ends: They just weren't right. Grohl is.

"If he goes, that's it," as in the end of Nirvana, Novoselic said. But Grohl seems secure, as does the band's future. A few weeks ago, Nirvana released "Nevermind." its Geffen Records debut. The record, a pleasing punk-influenced, heavy pop conglomeration, is at No. 65 on Billboard's 300 Top Album chart, and the band is all over the nation's music publications. "Nevermind" was made by special arrangement with Sub Pop, which means, in Novoselic's words, "We paid them off." Nirvana was supposed to do two more albums for the precarious Seattle record company. But now they're in the staid hands of Geffen, shaking up the corporate structure as best they can.

"All the rules I normally work under went out the window with this band," said Chrissy, a good-natured Geffen publicity gal. "Three weeks ago, they were an alternative band, now they're huge." And they still operate like the punks they are, especially when it comes to pesky annoyances such as interviews with reporters. They're not real good about getting back to me except at the last minute," Chrissy said.

Ah, yes: Freedom was part of the deal when the band signed with Geffen. "The more money you get, the more you have to compromise," Novoselic said. So Nirvana was willing to take a little less money "to make sure we got all these goodies," such as creative control. Geffen doesn't try to tell them what to do, how to dress, what to say "They know better than that." Novoselic said. Geffen just gives them time. "Nevermind" took three weeks to record. "Bleach" only got six days. You may be wondering about future albums, Well, don't ask Novoselic about the band's tomorrows. Such things aren't high on his list of concerns. "We've never been a goal-oriented band," Novoselic said. "We just keep playing shows, trying to whip people up."

But the members of Nirvana do have a few things to say to their g-g-g-generation, the quick-to-fit-in young twentysomethings. Some of them are found in the band's latest single, "Smells Like Teen Sprit," which rails against apathy, "There's no generation gap," Novoselic said. "The conformity patrol won.”
Maybe in the mainstream, But the conformity patrol has had no such luck with Nirvana. "We're not standing on a soapbox or anything," Novoselic said. "We each have our own opinions….."
"We're just pretty aware of what's going on." And they want everyone else to be as well. Novoselic couldn't help climbing on that soapbox for a moment as he implored his peers "get real information. Don't read USA Today. Unless you like being manipulated by big-money groups," that is.

We know how Nirvana feels About that.

© Stephanie Simons, 1991