LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE December 3, 1991 - Nottingham, UK

Interviewer(s)
Valerie Potter
Interviewee(s)
Kurt Cobain
Krist Novoselic
Dave Grohl
Publisher Title Transcript
TBC Pure Rock Yes

Cobain: And so we decided to start a band - and, initially, the band was just a Creedence Clear Water cover band - to play in bars and hopefully to make enough money to buy art supplies. But, ummm, people caught on, these rednecks in our hometown started taking off their big 10-gallon hats and going, "Woohoo, you guys are great!" And all of a sudden, we thought, "Oh well, maybe we can make some money at this… to heck with art!" 'Cause music isn't art!

Novoselic: They had a peculiarity, instead of clapping, they'd grab their suspenders and flip them!

Grohl: Chk, chk, chk, chk!

Novoselic: It was really wild!

Novoselic: Whatever it charts…

Grohl: It helped with distribution, y'know, they got out and did a good job distributing…

Cobain: Yeah, DGC is a great company! They know how to promote us. I see our records everywhere, y'know, in every store we go into. It's really nice to know that you can buy it any time!

Novoselic: That's basically what we wanted. We just wanted people to have a chance to buy our record. We didn't know that so many people would buy it.

Cobain: We weren't prepared for it, and it's never been a main goal of ours, y'know? We really don't care about anything like that, we just wanted to put out a good record, and hopefully the people who liked our first album will like this one also. I mean, of course we want to make a comfortable living at it, to at least be able to eat, y'know, and travel on tour, but… as far as, like, getting in the Top 10, we don't care at all! We know it won't happen, y'know, it won't last for very long and so… I dunno.

Novoselic: Hopefully, we just want that, ummm… like, where we come from, the underground or alternative scene, people, if they buy our record and they like it, they'll try to find out where we came from and they'll discover bands like Sonic Youth, Melvins, Dinosaur Jr., and I could just go on and on… Mudhoney, and blah blah blah, and uhhh…

Cobain: Shonen Knife…

Novoselic: Shonen Knife, Captain America… Just kinda change things, kick out the old guard and bring some freshness back into music. I dunno if the mainstream deserves it, but… mankind might be redeemable, so…

Novoselic: The underground has always been there!

Cobain: yeah, it's always been available to the public, it's just that there haven't been very many opportunities for bands that are aware of underground music to promote it, y'know, in a mainstream sense. It doesn't happen very often, so people forget after a few years. Like, y'know, The Sex Pistols were in the Top 10 ten years ago.

Novoselic: The Clash…

Cobain: The Clash, The Ramones, Blondie. It's always been there.

Grohl: Plus, it was just a good friend of ours who did the strings… it wasn't, like, some hired studio musician.

Cobain: Yeah, it wasn't. In fact, we knew we wanted strings… we knew we wanted a cello on one song but we kinda forgot about it until the last day. There was only, like, one more day to do it and we were at a party and we decided to ask our friends if they knew anyone who played cello, and it just so happens that one of our good friends play it, so we brought him in the next day and he did it!

Cobain: Ummm, there are a lot of people in the town! And usually when there's a large city there are a lot of bands! [Laughs] Ummm, I don't know… I don't know why they're all good. Those bands that you just mentioned - Tad, Mudhoney and Soundgarden - are pretty much the only bands from Seattle that I personally have liked. The rest of them I don't really care for that much, so, ummm… I think there are at least a handful of good bands in every city.

Cobain: We grew up on, ummm, industry rock. While we were young, y'know, like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, stuff like that… earlier on we were into The Beatles… But, ummm, I think the style of music that most effected us while we were teenagers was punk-rock. It pretty much changed our lives, it made us realise that you don't have to be a good musician, you just have to appreciate music, and understand passion, and just wanna have a good time.

Grohl: Punk-rock to a child with adrenaline problems is, like, a dream come true!

Cobain: [laughs]

Cobain: How have we defined our music? I don't know… rock'n'roll, punk-rock… music.

Novoselic: Hard rock, hard pop rock, hard pop rocks popping on your tongue, crinkling and crackling.

Grohl: [laughs]

Grohl: Maybe R.E.M.?

Cobain: Yeah, R.E.M.'s great.

Grohl: It just seems that, y'know, a lot of the mainstream commercial bands are just mega money machines and they're not willing to do anything different because…

Novoselic: It's not challenging, musically…

Grohl: …it's not financially feasible.

Novoselic: A lot of rock bands are just like Aerosmith Hanoi Rocks rehashes, y'know, to the point where all the singers look the same, the guitar players have the same moves and the same sound… it's a commodity, is all it is!

Cobain: You don't really have control over it, though, in certain areas. I mean, if people are gonna write about you, you can't do anything about it. All you can do is refuse to do interviews, but you're still gonna have your picture taken and, y'know, they're gonna write about you if they want to or not. So, in that sense, there's nothing you can do about it, but… I don't think that, if you have the same values as we do, there's any threat of us being sucked into the way of thinking that most corporate labels do. Y'know, we're not gonna worry about our career, in the business sense of it all… it doesn't matter, it never has, so there's no reason for us to change now. Everyone that we work with, we work with well, y'know, they understand us, so there's no threat of that I don't think.

Cobain: I think that mentality has been pretty much exhausted by this time. I mean, we have been proven… by our fans that they still like us. I mean, we've sold out all the shows on this tour, and there are still a lot of people who were into our earlier album that are into it now. So I don't think it really matters any more. Bands like Sonic Youth and us, and Dinosaur Jr. and a lot of other bands like The Pixies have proven that you can be on a major and still do what you want. It's just a new thing, so it'll take people a while to realise it.

© Valerie Potter, 1992