Brett Thomas
Krist Novoselic
Publisher Title Transcript
Sun Herald Nirvana Knocks The Socks Off Jackson Yes

IT started out as just another Seattle garage band with attitude.

There was a promising indie debut, a strong local following and a pride of place in the so-called Seattle scene. But then, almost overnight, a very strange thing happened to Nirvana—The Big Time.

Nevermind, the band's second album—and its first with a major label—became a major world-wide hit against all the odds. Loud, intense, passionate and raw, the band's searing guitar anthems have displaced Michael Jackson at the top of the US charts and held superstar challengers like U2 at bay.

Now, people are starting to talk about Nirvana—singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain, bass player Chris Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl—in almost reverential terms as "the future of rock and roll."

All of which totally horrifies the band, whose reason for being is the antithesis of the cliche rock and roll road to fame and success, endless girls and stashes of drugs.

"We didn't make this record to be a hit album," said Novoselic on the phone from his Seattle home. "It just happened. Nobody really expected it.

"I can imagine there will be some pressure on us to produce the same thing second time round but we don't care. We're not players in the game, you know what I mean? We're not out there in the industry.

"It wouldn't break our hearts if it didn't get in the top 10 or produce a hit single."

Nirvana was in the midst of a concentrated and completely chaotic European tour when word started to filter through to the band of the album's climb up the charts.

While Nevermind was raking up huge domestic sales, the members of Nirvana were sick with unshakable winter bugs, drinking too much and totally road-weary after playing every night for 2 ½ months.

"It was almost surreal," Novoselic laughed. "People were going, 'your record's on fire—it's going through the roof' but we didn't pay much attention, we just wanted to make it through the whole grind of the tour.

"Then, six weeks later when we were back in Seattle, the record went gold. I'm only now just starting to figure out what it means. People are starting to stop me in the street and I'm getting second glances because I'm being recognised off the TV.

"But I'm glad I'm out there in the street and people can see me—there's no myth element to this band, that attitude is kind of elitist. Some people want to be famous but we were never that way.

"Even so we've had reactions and arguments and discussions among ourselves about the whole thing because it isn't easy being pestered by people."

With its abrasive sound and song titles like Territorial Pissings, Lithium, Smells Like Teen Spirit and Drain You there was no way Nevermind was designed for the mainstream, but that's how it has turned out.

Novoselic hinted that Nirvana may reach back to its independent, alternative roots for its next album as a direct reaction to the hype now surrounding the band.

"We're actually going to spend less money than we did on this one," he said. "Kurt told me the next record is going to be different.

"People are prone to yell sell-out and we'd yell sell-out ourselves. We wouldn't be comfortable with a slick, distilled album.

"So, with this next one we'll probably use two or three producers and each song will be produced on its own merit; maybe with some of the crazy, abrasive songs we'll use an eight-track and we'll slick it up for the lush, candy pop songs.

"You've got to maintain some commonsense about the whole thing, you can't go, 'oh wow, we've got this big record and we'll be on the Grammy's with Mariah Carey and Bianca Jagger.'

"We come out of somewhere different to that and we're going to stick to our guns."

Because of its hard guitar sound, Nirvana has been lumped into the heavy metal category by a lot of critics, but Novoselic said the band had nothing to do with that particular genre, being more aligned to the spirit of punk and the American hardcore scene.

"But punk was something different. The Sex Pistols' Never Mind The Bollocks came out before my time but that's a total pop record—they're great songs, they're raw and there's a lot of attitude."

Sounds Just like Nirvana.

* Nirvana will be in Australia this month for a series of shows around the country, highlighted by its appearance at The Big Day Out next Saturday. The band will be one of 21 alternate and non-mainstream bands playing from midday to 10pm on three stages erected around the Sydney Showground complex. Tickets have already sold out, and planning for next year, which may be a two day festival, is underway.

© Brett Thomas, 1992