Megan Bird
Dave Grohl
Publisher Title Transcript
Canberra Times More Honest Than Most Yes

Nirvana: created a life story for themselves because the truth was so boring.

NIRVANA wrote their own biography because they have all got such boring backgrounds.

That was one of the reasons, at least.

While it's true that Kurt Cobain's father was a policeman and Chris Novoselic's mother ran a small beauty salon in Aberdeen, Washington, a small logging town 110km south-west of Seattle, Nirvana believe their music is more honest than most.

Drummer Dave Grohl says, "We're just normal people playing honest music."

"Well, see, the [three-page] bios a lie. It's all bullshit There is no real story.

"You know, bands bios are always so stupid. They're always just sort of these, you know, 'We're the best band in the world, we play such powerful lies and our record is going to sell a million.'... I don't know, so we decided to write our own."

According to the biography, "Nirvana's beginnings are the typical two-bored-art-students-dropping-out kindof of story. Novoselic [bass] had a passion for gluing seashells, Cobain [lead vocals, guitar], a sawblade painter specialising in wildlife and seascapes, met Novoselic at the Grays Harbor institute of Northwest Crafts. Both had come from nearby Aberdeen, Washington ... Novoselic remembers, 'I liked what Kurt was doing. I asked him what his thoughts were on a macaroni mobile piece I was working on. He suggested I glue glitter on it. That really made it!' The incident formed the basis of Nirvana's musical magic."

Another make-believe story in the biography is the one about how Grohl was "at first taken back a bit by the band" when he joined, after Nirvana's first album, Bleach, was released on an independent label.

"They wore berets, sunglasses, sandals and had goatees. Chris walked around with tnese poetry books by Rod McKuen and Kurt would do interpretative dances while Chris recited McKuen's poetry."

Early in the phone interview, Grohl says the anecdotes and a lot of the facts in the biography are lies. The band is more normal and dull.

"Chris is 26, Kurt is 24, and I'm 23 and that's Chris playing guitar in the background," he says.

"I've been in the band for two years but I'm going to quit because it's starting to sound like this [he moves the mouthpiece closer to Novoselic' loud guitar playing].

"Yeah I'm going to quit, I'm quitting today. Yeah, F... yeah. Novoselic hears this and yells in the background, "Shut... up."


"Hello... hello. Oh, sorry," Grohl says.

"You dropped the phone?" I ask. "No, I got hit."


Grohl, from Washington D.C., joined the band last year. He was playing in a punk/rock band, Scream, that had been having some problems with their bass player.

"[The bass player] finally quit, in the middle of an American tour."

Grohl was in California, heard rock/pop/punk Nirvana needed a drummer so he flew to Seattle.

The band had had a succession of four drummers before Grohl.

"They haven't really been through that many drummers. They've only had one other serious drummer..." Grohl says.

"All the other drummers were just sort of stand-ins. They weren't really that motivated.

"They were just sort of doing it for the fun of it. They could have been a lot more serious."

Nirvana, although they hate to admit it, are very senous about music.

Their latest album, Nevermind, the one with the eye-catching cover of the floating baby, was released on major label, DGC Records. It has remained in the American charts for 16 weeks and was number one for a week, knocking off Michael Jackson.

Nirvana's promotion company say they "are rather pleased" about this, but Grohl thinks it's hilarious.

"It's not so surprising being on the alternative charts. That's really no big news. Going to number one on the big charts is; we don't belong there. You can save those spaces for Michael Jackson...

"I don't care. I mean, shit, it's funny.

"I guess it's a kick in the arse for the music industry, as we know it. I'm happy for that. Hopefully it will open up doors for bands behind us, doing the same thing - maybe, maybe not."

The inspiration for the Nevermind cover came from American television when the band was loafing around one day.

Grohl says, "Kurt and I were sitting around watching TV and we saw this special on infants learning to swim and there were these people throwing little babies into a pool and it was pretty hilariously funny. So when it came time to think up something for the cover nobody really had any idea and then Kurt and I just said, 'A baby in water would be pretty funny.' So we got a picture of a baby and eventually somebody said, 'We'll put a fishhook in there, ha, ha, ha'. And then someone said, 'Yeah, let's put a dollar on. the end of the hook' and it just sort of worked."

The rationale behind the title, Nevermind, was not, as the biography, quoting Cobain, says: "No-one, especially people our own age, wants to address important issues... They'd rather say, 'Nevermind, forget it.' One one hand we're not a political band - we're just some guys playing music - but we're not just another mindless band asking people to forget either.

"There's no rebellion in rock 'n' roll any more, I hope underground music can influence the mainstream and shake up the kids. Maybe we can change some kid's life and stop him from becoming a welder or a sleazy lawyer. Maybe what we need is a new generation gap."

Nope. Grohl says the title doesn't mean anything. "We couldn't think of a title."

Nirvana are touring Australia for 18 days, with a little sailing and camping along the way.

Grohl says, "I really don't know anything about Australia. [Although he is impressed with Sydney band, The Clouds], People are just sort of tagging us along."

The phone interview took place the day after it should have, after being scheduled and confirmed two weeks in advance. The band had been relaxing during the scheduled interview time, the day after they arrived in Australia, on an island they can't remember the name of.

"We went to some little island and stopped and had lunch and we just sort of sailed around. We didn't really have any directions and the captain got us pretty ... drunk," Grohl says.

"We almost ploughed into a couple of beaches. It was pretty fun. I don't mind touring like this."

After the interview, some of Nirvana concerts were cancelled and postponed in Perth and Sydney because of a stomach illness Cobain reportedly came down with. He is, however, expected to be fit for the Canberra concert.

Nirvana will play at the ANU on Wednesday night, supported by Tumbleweed and Village Idiots. There are a few tickets left at $15.

© Megan Bird, 1992