LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE November 5, 1991 - London, UK

Interviewer(s)
Hetty Los
Interviewee(s)
Kurt Cobain
Krist Novoselic
Dave Grohl
Publisher Title Transcript
MTV Europe TBC Yes
HBO Documentary Films/Universal Pictures Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck Yes

MTV: Yeah? Okay, cool… Um, I just heard from Liz Morris that you sold 600,000 albums in the United States, does that make it, like, gold or platinum or something like that?

Grohl: It makes it gold…

Cobain: It makes it a free gift to my Mother for Christmas…

Grohl: Exactly! [laughs]

Cobain: I don't have to pay for a gift!

Grohl: What's Mom gettin' for Christmas? Oh, I guess she's gettin' a gold record!

MTV: So, does that mean you guys are, like, rich now?

Grohl: Hell, no! We're so far from having any money! I mean, we get per diem, I guess…

Novoselic: Rich, Richard… Dick is short for Richard.

Grohl: Yeah, so if you're rich you're a dick!

MTV: No, did you get- I don't know, did it happen really fast? Is your life gonna change a lot now? Are you gonna have security around you all the time or what?

Grohl: No. I dunno, it hasn't really kicked in yet. It's just really weird. Nobody expected it, so… It's not that big of a deal.

Novoselic: It's not that big of a deal. The people who make it a big deal…

Grohl: Are the people who tell us about it!

Novoselic: Are the people who tell us about it, yeah.

MTV: Well, I think they think that because they see other artists that start selling that amount of records and things change, it seems an unavoidable thing.

Novoselic: Yeah, we're getting pushy to our friends. We're turning elitist.

Grohl: And nobody touches my car but me!

Novoselic: Yeah, that's right.

Cobain: Your new car.

Grohl: My new car.

Cobain: One of your many new cars.

Grohl: One of my three new cars.

Novoselic: We're abandoning all our friends in Washington state and moving down to Hollywood to be with the in crowd, until we bomb and then we'll come back grovelling.

Cobain: We'll play WaterWorks Parks and stuff like that.

Novoselic: Yeah, yeah.

Grohl: Opening up for puppet shows.

Novoselic: [laughs] “Puppet show and Nirvana.”

MTV: Because you've been booked in all these quite small places, I know in Amsterdam you're playing in the Melkweg, [inaudible] it seems a bit too small.

Grohl: Well, they just changed it to the Paradiso, so it got switched.

Novoselic: Yeah, we'll be in paradise.

MTV: OK.

Grohl: But I'd rather play smaller places than huge enormodome stadiums.

Novoselic: It doesn't matter. As long as I feel that the show's good, that we had fun and that we just rocked out, it doesn't matter about where.

Grohl: [speaking to Cobain] Are you tired?

Cobain: I have jet-lag.

Grohl: We have jet-lag.

Cobain: We're jet-lagged. [slams head on table]

Novoselic: Narcoleptic.

MTV: [laughs] When you guys go on tour, do you actually get a chance to see anything? Or is it just hotel to hotel?

Novoselic: No.

Grohl: Not anymore.

Novoselic: Nothing. It's from hotel, to interview, to venue, to [tap, tap, tap, tap] “one, two, one, two, one, two…”

Cobain: “Soundcheck, check, check…”

Grohl: “Check, check…”

Novoselic: And, uhh…

Grohl: To the bar.

Novoselic: To the bar.

MTV: But have you been in Europe before, where you did have a chance to look around and stuff like that?

Cobain: Oh, when we were in France last time, we got to see the Eiffel Tower from a distance, as we drove by.

Novoselic: Yeah, from about five miles. It was like, [squinting] “Oh, there's the Eiffel Tower!” [pointing] “Where?! Where?!”

Cobain: “There's a McDonalds!”

Novoselic: Yeah, there's a McDonalds…

MTV: No, but seriously, have you ever been to Europe before, not with the band, but just travelling around?

Cobain: No.

Novoselic: Y'know what are the funnest tours? The ones where just, like, three members of the band just go around in a van… there's no roadies, there's no tour manager, there's nothing, we just go!

Cobain: There's no records in the stores, there's no interviews, there's no gas! [laughs]

Novoselic: There's no, no, no. There's total depravity!

MTV: The reason I ask is just that… the reason I ask is that I know just about Europe, I don't know where you're from - I mean, I've never- I've only been here - and I was just wondering if you think that the world is getting more alike? Places start to resemble each other?

Novoselic: Sure, I mean Western culture is dominating everything, y'know… You can go to the smallest, most remote region of Africa, walk in a hut and they're watching a television set, y'know…

Grohl: Drinking Coke and wearing Levis…

Novoselic: Yeah, wearing Levis… Because of all the communication, the world is getting smaller, that's just a known fact.

MTV: But do you think it's killing national things, you know, distinguishing characteristics?

Novoselic: National identity is cool, unless it gets too rabid. Nationalism is not cool… man!

MTV: So you're from Washington state, can you tell me a little bit about what's going on over there?

Novoselic: Hmm, what's going on in Washington state? [laughs] Uh, it's America, it's just America, you know: plazas and freeways. You know, I could describe the foliage…

Cobain: Deciduous trees.

Novoselic: The climate…

Cobain: Rain.

Novoselic: Yeah. I mean, every place has something to offer. It's just America, really.

MTV: But where you're from, is it sort of like a wealthy place? Is it a mixed place or is it a completely white or black area?

Novoselic: No. It's America - there's either wealthy, or there's poor, or there's struggling middle class.

MTV: No, cuz… I don't know… umm, in the lyrics and everything, I just hear… by the way, I can't understand the words very well. Maybe that's me, cuz I'm Dutch, or something? You know, I'm not that fluent, but I can't understand quite a lot and I was thinking why didn't you put a lyric sheet in there?

Cobain: Oh, I don't know. To save paper. I don't know. We'll give you a lyric sheet after this is done.

MTV: But I think it would've been a nice thing…

Grohl: All you have to do is ask for a lyric sheet and we'll be glad to give one.

MTV: But do you care a lot about your lyrics?

Grohl: [speaks to camera] Anybody, just come up and ask for a lyric sheet and I swear we'll give you one.

Cobain: Self addressed stamped envelope.

Grohl: If we don't have one on us, we'll just write it out for you.

Novoselic: It'll be written in calligraphy on parchment paper.

Cobain: [calls out to the support act's crew who are setting up and soundchecking the drums] Hey!

Grohl: They're not setting up in front of me?

Cobain: Hey, you can move that drumset…

Grohl: You don't have to set up in front of me.

Cobain: On the big stage thing.

Grohl: You'll meet more people if you sit up a little higher.

MTV: Do you care a lot about the lyrics? Like, do you care whether people understand them and listen to what you're talking about? Yeah, you do! You do!

Cobain: Well, I don't care whether people can decipher them or not, or what it means to them. I care about them personally, I like them myself. It's just whatever anybody wants… you know, it doesn't matter what they think.

Grohl: I don't care about your lyrics.

Cobain: I don't want you to.

MTV: But isn't making music all about communication? I mean, you do care, otherwise you wouldn't write lyrics like that!

Cobain: Uh… uh… No, I don't care. Music comes first, music is number one, lyrics are secondary.

Grohl: Y'know 'My Sharona'? What the hell is 'My Sharona'?!

Novoselic: Yeah, but it changed my life!

Grohl: But it did! Boo-boo-boo-boo-boo, My Sharona!

MTV: The making of the videos, are you guys involved in that or do you leave it to the director? And how important is it to you?

Grohl: Well, we worked with the director…

Cobain: We came up with the idea, but we weren't able… we didn't have enough time to… to really sit down and edit everything ourselves, so… the director took it upon himself to do it himself and just… it didn't quite turn out exactly the way we wanted it to, but it came close.

MTV: And in the future, I'm sure you're going to be making more videos, do you enjoy it? Do you see it as an extension of the music or is it just a necessary thing…?

Cobain: Hmm, I don't know… it took, like, 12 hours!

Grohl: Well, actual sitting down…

Cobain: Listening to the song over and over and over again.

Grohl: It gets really tedious. But, I mean, the idea of making a short film is pretty exciting. It's fun. I mean, it's not like a burden or anything.

MTV: Did you play in other bands before you played in Nirvana?

Grohl: I'd been in…

Cobain: He was.

Grohl: I was in a band called Scream, from Washington DC. See, I'm from Washington DC, not Washtington state. It's a little different, about 3,000 miles apart.

Novoselic: What are the trees like there?

Grohl: Umm… I guess probably just your typical Oak.

Novoselic. Oak, Poplar… hardwoods, a lot of hardwoods.

MTV: Well, did you move to…

MTV: And then you met there and started playing together?

Grohl: Sort of.

MTV: How long have you actually been together then?

Grohl: I met them a year and a couple of months ago.

MTV: The two of you then were already doing stuff…

Cobain: We've been a unit for about five or six years.

Novoselic: Forever and a day.

MTV: But could you make a living from making music at the time?

Novoselic: At the time, barely. It didn't matter, though.

Grohl: You can stay alive without making a living.

Novoselic: Yeah. There's welfare, food stamps…

Grohl: Hormel chili…

Cobain: AM/PM burgers… ketchup soup.

Grohl: Ramen noodles…

Novoselic: Prescription coupons.

Grohl: Cheap non-perishables.

MTV: Now, if you finish this tour… I mean, are you gonna continue touring for a really long time, or are you gonna sort of start working- is there any sort of pressure to work on a new album, or are you just gonna release more singles?

Novoselic: I don't know.

Grohl: There's no pressure.

Novoselic: There's no pressure. I'd like to maybe tour till the end of Spring and then take the Summer off and just start jamming and relaxing.

MTV: How do you work together, like, how does the actual process work? Do you have the song- do you have the music first? How does it go?

Novoselic: Well, I break the ground with a pick and then Kurt comes with a shovel, throws it in Dave's wheelbarrow.

MTV: And in the studio, are you very good… I mean, the person who produced Nevermind… Was that like… Do you have production ideas? Were you used to working in the studio, or was that all pretty new?

Cobain: No, we've made quite a few recordings in the studio, it's familiar enough.

MTV: But is a producer a technician, or is he like…? What's the guy's name?

Grohl: His name's Butch Vig. He had a lot of ideas. He heard the songs and he'd recorded the songs before. And he had some ideas for the new songs we were working on. We all had sort of a mutual agreement on what kind of sound we wanted to get. He's just really easy to work with and he understood where we were coming from, so it all worked out well in the end. He wanted to get a sort of ‘live’ feel for the basic tracks and I guess he sort of did, so…

MTV: Today I heard that you played a festival - “Ein Abend In Wien,” it's called - in Rotterdam and you were thrown out, or something like that…

Grohl: What does that mean? Does that mean, like, “Mimes from hell”?

MTV: No, no, no. “Ein abend in Wien” is a really tacky title, cuz it means “an evening in Vienna,” it's like sort of Opera type. They make it sound sort of tacky, but intentionally tacky. But what happened there? You got thrown out?

Novoselic: Just for mindless goofery… there's nothing really to describe.

Grohl: [laughs] Crucifixion.

Novoselic: We were accused of having too much fun!

Cobain: Yeah, that's it.

Novoselic: And the day fun is outlawed, I'm outta here!

MTV: Do you care what, like, critics think? Cuz I've been reading… I've never heard as many glowing critiques…

Novoselic: Oh, glowing!

MTV: Does that make you feel good?

Novoselic: Well… I mean, it's better than being slammed, that's for sure!

Grohl: But, y'know, if I was reading the same thing about another band, I wouldn't believe it!

Novoselic: No way!

Grohl: I'm not gonna believe some journalist that's spewing about some band that he thinks changed his life… y'know, you can't believe everything you read.

Novoselic: I mean, all you have to do is… the music is a personal experience. You put the music on and whatever you get out of it, y'know, if it's good or bad… if it's bad and you don't like it, just walk away from it, y'know? If it's good, if it works for you…

Cobain: [lays head on table]

Grohl: You know this lighter…

Novoselic: What the hell?! Instead of, you know… There has to be these certain people who write for magazines, they have to tell the world what their opinion is.

MTV: Yeah, still, I mean… music is a personal thing, I agree with that, but at the same time it's not always a personal thing. [inaudible] millions of other people, which tends to turn me off, but sometimes you can't avoid it, you know? It's not only personal anymore, I don't think.

Novoselic: Of course it's personal. [inaudible] I mean, maybe Madonna has something personal for me that's different for you? Maybe you hate Madonna? I don't know. Perspective is so weird. I mean, people have perspectives on anything. Ask people at the Nuremberg trials about perspective. You know what I mean? It's a weird thing.

MTV: Hey, I think I've got enough for what I need…

Novoselic: Enough. Well, thank you… yeah [turns to leave]

MTV: No, hang on… don't leave, cuz I've got those two things, I told you…

Kurt Cobain: Music comes first, music is number one, lyrics are secondary.

Dave: Y'know 'My Sharona'? What the hell is 'My Sharona'?!

Krist: Yeah, but it changed my life!

Dave: But it did! Boo-boo-boo-boo-boo, My Sharona!

Dave: Well, we worked with the director…

Kurt: We came up with the idea, but we weren't able… we didn't have enough time to… to really sit down and edit everything ourselves, so… the director took it upon himself to do it himself and just… it didn't quite turn out exactly the way we wanted it to, but it came close.

Krist: Hotel, to interview, to venue, to [tap, tap, tap, tap] "one, two, one, two, one, two…"

Kurt: "Soundcheck, check, check…"

Krist: "Check, check…"

Kurt: Oh, when we were in France last time, we got to see the Eiffel Tower from a distance, as we drove by.

Krist: Yeah, from about five miles. It was like, [squinting] "Oh, there's the Eiffel Tower!" [pointing] "Where?! Where?!"

Kurt: "There's a McDonalds!"

Krist: Yeah, there's a McDonalds…

Krist: Western culture is dominating everything, y'know… You can go to the smallest, most remote region of Africa, walk in a hut and they're watching a television set, y'know…

Dave: Drinking Coke and wearing Levis…

Krist: Yeah, wearing Levis…

Krist: Y'know what are the funnest tours? The ones where just, like, three members of the band just go around in a van… there's no roadies, there's no tour manager, there's nothing, we just go!

Kurt: There's no records in the store, there's no interviews, there's no gas!

Krist: There's no, no, no. There's total depravity!

© MTV Networks, 1991

MTV: Yeah? Okay… Um, I just heard that you sold 600,000 albums in the United States, does that make it, like, platinum or something like that?

Grohl: It makes it gold...

Cobain: It makes it a free gift to my Mother for Christmas…

Grohl: Exactly! [laughs]

Cobain: I don't have to pay for a gift!

Grohl: What's Mom gettin' for Christmas? Oh, I guess she's gettin' a gold record!

MTV: So, does that mean you guys are, like, rich now?

Grohl: Hell, no! We're so far from having any money! I mean, we get per diem, I guess…

MTV: Do you care what, like, critics think? I've never heard as many glowing critiques…

Novoselic: Oh, glowing!

MTV: Does that make you feel good?

Novoselic: Well… I mean, it's better than being slammed, that's for sure!

Grohl: But, y'know, if I was reading the same thing about another band, I wouldn't believe it!

Novoselic: No way!

Grohl: I'm not gonna believe some journalist that's spewing about some band that he thinks changed his life… y'know, you can't believe everything you read.

Novoselic: I mean, all you have to do is… the music is a personal experience. You put the music on and whatever you get out of it, y'know, if it's good or bad… if it's bad and you don't like it, just walk away from it, y'know? If it's good, if it works for you...

Cobain: [lays head on desk]

Grohl: You know this lighter…

Novoselic: What the hell?!

© MTV Networks, 2015