LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE December 6, 1991 - London, UK
- Mark Goodier
- Krist Novoselic
|BBC Radio 1||The Evening Session||Yes|
Mark Goodier: A record we've been playing a lot is the Nirvana album and, of course, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Krist is here for the band. Nice to see you and welcome to the U.K.
Krist Novoselic: Nice to see youuu… Thank you.
MG: Welcome to the U.K. and you've been going down a storm on this second leg of the tour, it's great to have a bit of real edge and rawness in the U.K. Top Ten.
KN: Yeah, it's totally wild. We left on tour, like about September 18th and the record came out on September 24th and by the time we got home it went Gold and now its way over Platinum. It's just, it's like a phenomenon really. We didn't really try or anything. The record company originally shipped around fifty thousand copies…
MG: I know! I heard this story! It's just one of those remarkable things but you know when we read that you've signed from Sub Pop onto, you know, Geffen, you think wow, well, Geffen are going to go ‘welly!’ and do the big splash. But they didn't do that!
KN: No… No. Just kinda it was very organic. Just word of mouth thing. But that was the deal with our band for a long time because in the United States we didn't get a lot of promotion for a couple of years.
MG: So how did you breakthrough? You obviously did gigs, maybe on the college circuit?
MG: And you got lots of college radio play?
KN: Well, the radio department at Geffen called up, would like, call up a radio station and say “hey, take a chance on this record,” and they'd play it and they'd get a lot of requests for it so they put it in rotation and they'd get more requests and they put it in heavy rotation and woah, (both chuckle) too heavy rotation and people were buying it…
MG: That's a change recently in the American chart thing thought because it used to be that you could you could do well in the American charts just on radio play. (Chris: Right, right) not on sales and obviously there's no point in being number one if people aren't buying your record.
KN: Yeah, that's right.
MG: Did you make this album before you signed to Geffen or did you make it after you signed?
KN: A lot of these songs, I mean, physically recording the record, the record was recorded like about a month after we signed with Geffen.
MG: So the songs were ready for a long time before?
KN: Yeah. Yeah. We actually recorded a demo tape in April of 1990 with songs like “In Bloom” and “Lithium” and “Stay Away” and “Breed.” And one thing led to another and we… That was supposed to be a Sub Pop album but, er, next thing you know we were on Geffen.
MG: When Geffen, a label like Geffen, sign you they obviously sign you because they believe in you but record companies are also notorious for interfering as well. But it doesn't sound like they have done with you.
KN: No, no. We were very apprehensive of that. So we made sure contractually we had the upper hand and, instead of going in and signing for a lot of money, we signed for a lot less money, but with a stronger contract.
MG: And that means you basically have the power to tell them to go and jump.
KN: Yeah. But they have their ways, y'know? But you just have to be alert and aware what's going on.
MG: People shouldn't forget that you're a band who have been together for a long time and, of course, you had an album out before “Nevermind”…
KN: We've been together since 1987.
MG: And I think that's very important because it means you probably still have many more songs, you know? Old songs presumably.
KN: We've got some old songs and a lot of songs you just kinda throw away and a lot of songs you find on a bootleg record. We're pretty prolific, not like terribly prolific, but enough to where there's always a new song we're kicking around experimenting with.
MG: So there's no sort of pressure from yourselves on yourselves at this stage starting to trickle down at the back of the mind saying “we've got to better this, we've got to make another record that's going to do as well as “Nevermind?””
KN: Umm… We don't care if it does as well as “Nevermind”. We just care that — production-wise and song-wise — that its substantial. Not a commercial sense either. A total artistic sense.
MG: You've been very supportive of British bands and that's a nice thing to see because I suppose from a person who's a fan of international music, obviously I support a lot of British bands on this show. Whilst we're very pleased with your success we also wish there was some British bands who were being as successful as you are, maybe like Swervedriver or Teenage Fanclub, having big, big hits.
KN: Oh, we love Teenage Fanclub.
MG: It'd be great to see bands like that, British bands…
KN: Mark? I think your dialogue has nationalistic overtones! (Jokey tone)
MG: Yes it is slightly…
KN: Gotta remember brothers and sisters, we are brothers and sisters of the planet right? And errr… (Mark: you're absolutely right!) It's cool y’know, at least we speak the same language if that means anything. The language of Rock ‘n’ Roll and not just English.
MG: I'm sorry, I was sort of perambulating around a question, sort of juggling it around as I tend to do sometimes. But the bands that you’ve been supportive of include Fanclub and also Captain America. (Chris: Captain America, right…) So how did you come across a band like Captain America from Glasgow? It's miles away from you.
KN: We've been Vaselines fans for years and Eugene (Kelly) and James (Seenan) were in the Vaselines and they started this band, Captain America, and Eugene gave us a tape and we thought it was just brilliant. “Come along on tour with us!” Y’know? And that's part of our deal too is like — y’know, in our contract — is that we control all our shows. We can go on tour when we want and bring whoever we want on tour instead of it being some, like…
MG: Ridiculous buy-on or whatever…
KN: Major label thing, like support this and that. We bring bands like Shonen Knife or Captain America. Who we think, who we really like and we want to turn people on to these bands y’know, because they're so brilliant.
MG: They're fun.
KN: They're fun! It's great, this whole U.K. show! It's been a great tour of Europe. Value pound. A pound for a pound! It's an awesome show.
MG: A lot of note for your money.
KN: That's right.
MG: But there are many people here who are going to want to know when the next record's going to be out, we've been talking about ‘album’ record. Will it be out…
KN: Ohhhh… Tentatively — we haven't really discussed this — we've discussed it, but next fall/winter. There’s not going to be a big gap like there was between the other records. There’s songs we're kicking around and we want the time off to screw around, write some songs…
MG: Have fun?
KN: Do our own personal thing…
MG: Go see other bands…
KN: Yeah! Yeah.
MG: It's been very good to talk with you and hopefully we'll talk with all three next time you come into the U.K. which I hope will be not before too long.
KN: Right on!
MG: Thanks for your time.
© Mark Goodier, 1992