Kris Nicholson
Kurt Cobain
Publisher Title Transcript
Hit Parader Nirvana: Smells Like Success Yes

People everywhere are crawling up walls, pacing floors and sitting around with puzzled looks on their faces trying to figure it out, why Nirvana? And why now? Me, I'm not wasting my time on such trivial pursuits. I'm just ecstatic that it happened and I don't care why. After all, a world, in which an underground band like Nirvana gets to see the light of day, is a beautiful world. and just when I was about to give up – CRUNCH! SLAM! KABOOM! Nirvana exploded. Now we all know they didn't just come like a bat out of hell from the middle of nowhere. we just never dreamed it would ever go this far and this fast. Still, it all makes perfect sense, three scruffy, angry, passionate young men making manic, frantic music so perfect for these insensitive times filled with disillusion, fear and isolation. Read this interview with Kurt Cobain and discovered that beneath his carnage lies a sensitive, smart and caring soul. Is it any wonder he writes the songs that speak to a whole generation?

Hit Parader: You don’t like to talk about yourself.

Kurt Cobain: No.

HP: I guess it gets boring talking about the same things over and over. You were a good student in high school, why did you drop out just before graduating?

KC: The reality of art school hit me too hard. I realized I'd rather be in a band than go to art school for the next four years. I had the choice of going to Texas or New York and I wasn't ready for it. I didn't want to move away. I wanted to stay home for a while and hang out with my friends and start a band. up until it had been pretty much written in the stars that I would become an artist. I'd been encouraged all through my childhood.

HP: When you were three years old, did your mother put your drawings up on the fridge?

KC: Yeah. My last year of school, I took three commercial art classes. So, I was being pushed quite hard. It bored me after a while. I was getting away with a lot. I was so accepted by my art teacher that I didn't even have to do the work that was required anymore. I could just turn in whatever I wanted to. It wasn't a challenge at all. So I just decided to drop out, I was 18.

HP: And so you started a band.

KC: Actually I tried to start a band for the next two years and I couldn't quite get it together with anyone.

HP: How old are you?

KC: 24.

HP: What was it that made you choose music over art? Was it something you heard?

KC: Well, I'd been into punk rock about four years already and I'd also been playing guitar since then. That was about eight or ninth grade. And I've always been a fan of music. And I've always known I wanted to do music but the art thing got in the way all the time.

HP: Do you remember a moment when you saw a band or heard a song and something really clicked in your brain?

KC: Yes. It was when I heard Generic Flipper. It was like a total realization. I realized it was art and it was real and it was like nothing I'd ever heard before.

HP: How would you feel if your music had the same kind of effect on someone that Generic Flipper had on you?

KC: Well, if we do, it's just really flattering. That's pretty much the only goal we have, is to affect people that way, emotionally.

HP: It seems that kids are becoming less and less ambitious. I read an interview where you said you'd like to be able to just give them a slap in the head to wake them up.

KC: Well, yeah.

HP: Maybe it’s not possible.

KC: It’s not necessarily impossible. It's that we're so completely far gone, It would take people who are really a lot more prolific than I could ever be. I could never expect or hope to be a person who could actually have an effect on anyone. I can only hope. I just feel like there's this universal sense of failure that our generation has and it's been brought on by our parents' generation. We've been led to believe that the hippie movement was such a vital thing and that it was so real. And it was, on a small scale.

HP: But a lot of the people who made a difference then have “sold out” or become really straight now.

KC: Exactly, that's what I'm trying to say. We've been led to believe that it really made an impact, and it did. But you can't blame the hippie movement becoming commercial because that's a natural progression that will always happen. And you can't blame the media for it.

HP: It's like nostalgia. Kids plug back into something that already existed instead of creating their own thing.

KC: Right. Well, there's nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with learning from the past.

HP: But sometimes it's just a passive fashion thing. It doesn't involve any action. It's just “Let's just wear some tie-dye and listen to the Grateful Dead.”

KC: Oh definitely. but it was also a fashion thing in the '60s. There was a small percentage of people who started a movement that were very sincere and real, and then the rest of the general population caught on to it and only understood the fashion part of it. And you can't expect them to understand anything beyond that because the majority of people aren't capable of comprehending anything like that. Most people don't even have the ability to detect injustice or oppression or anything that's going on wrong because they are so easily amused and satisfied by the simple pleasures in life like buying things or having things bought for them or being entertained instead of entertaining themselves. So, you can't really blame the majority because they were born without that ability. I think it's totally organic. And my generation now has picked up on that and they just feel as if their parents are hypocrites, and it's very true. But there will always be that small percentage of people who think alternatively. There always has been. That line in Teen Spirit “Our little group has always been and always will until the end.” A lot of people have mistaken that line for “our metal group.” They think I've said “metal” as in “heavy metal group.” And we definitely don't consider ourselves a heavy metal group.

HP: Do you think that “little group” is getting smaller with each generation?

KC: No, I don't. it all depends on the population at the time. There's always been a counter-culture. and there will always be a small number of people who will keep fighting but probably never have enough impact to make the world a better place. I mean, we CAN use the media for our benefit. But as far as I'm concerned, to talk in a revolutionary sense is pretty ridiculous. Because the people who are aware are already aware.

© Kris Nicholson, 1992