LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE November ??, 1992 - Seattle, WA, US

Interviewer(s)
Jim Crotty
Michael Lane
Interviewee(s)
Kurt Cobain
Publisher Title Transcript
TBC TBC Yes

Jim Crotty: …You were down in Argentina? Buenos Aires? It's a cool city I understand.

Kurt Cobain: It's not like ‘cool’ — high-rises everywhere.

JC: I was in Brazil for summer.

Michael Lane: Sort of like New York?

JC: Brazil’s like that — São Paolo's like that.

KC: No I mean Buenos Aires.

JC: Is it?

ML: Sort of like Manhattan?

KC: I don't think so. I didn't see a lot of real high-rises while I was. Not really. Really scummy, like, shanty towns.

JC: That's the thing about South America. It's fucking weird — it's like the rich are really rich and the poor are just dirt poor. Have you been to Rio?

KC: No.

JC: See it's like that — the favelas. It's a beautiful town. These gorgeous little mountains, little hills, they're phenomenal. But, like, all the poor live on there — it's like major crack trade…It's ok but they gotta get a middle class.

KC: We brought this all-girl band, Calamity Jane with us. I dunno…The whole audience — it was mostly young boys anyhow — and they were screaming “puta!” at them the whole time.

JC: “Puta madre!” [Laughs]

KC: Guys screaming it at them the whole time. Throwing dirt and pieces of paper at them… Yeah…It was awful, it was just the girls got treated so badly.

JC: It's that old macho South American dudes — that's the thing…

KC: It was terrible. But at least we got to pay the girls really well so who's working that out?

JC: So you brought them — where are they from?

KC: They're from Portland.

JC: Oh good man. How long were you down there?

KC: Three days.

JC: I say, you just flew down for three days? What you take, Varig — what airline? PWA or somethin'….?

KC: Something like that, yeah…It was a long ride…Eighteen hours — two layovers. I mean I’d just barely started to adjust as we were leaving, to the pattern, y'know, by the time I got back. But! It's really helped me! Because now I'm getting up at, like, eleven in the morning — it's really early for me.

JC: Oh, is it?

KC: Yeah, like even today I had breakfast at seven.

JC: Holy cow. It's starting to sound corporate! I can't handle food in the morning when I'm going to bed at five or four.

KC: No one can eat breakfast at five in the morning. At least. Jeez, I wanna go to Buenos Aires next time and try it.

JC: Yeah…What time do you usually get up — two? Three?

KC: Yeah, probably. That's a decent hour.

JC: That's a good hour. What time do I normally get going? Ten thirty?

ML: You get going around four.

JC: I'm cooking at four man. At four thirty I'm rolling now. I'm ready, this is it. This is the time. So you're just here for another night — that's it, you guys go back to LA or…?

KC: We haven't decided. We'll probably just stay another day.

JC: And you're gonna…You're recording stuff or…? You're not recording yet, you're just practicing…?

KC: Not really. I just recorded some guitar feedback for a William Burroughs record I'm doing.

ML: William Burroughs? What are you doing with him?

JC: Great fucking idea!

KC: He wrote — he read “Junkie's Last Christmas” and I'm doing some feedback noise over the top of it.

ML: Are you kidding?

KC: And then I get to play feedback for another twenty-five minutes. So, his piece is only as long as that story is which is like five minutes maybe and mine is gonna be about another twenty minutes, twenty-five minutes.

ML: Who's producing this?

KC: This guy Thor from Portland. He runs T/K Records. He's put out a couple of Burroughs' records — Gus van Sant did some stuff with him too.

ML: Have you hung out with him?

KC: No, uh-uh.

JC: Oh, so you didn't get to meet Bill? Oh, too bad. He's in Lawrence, Kansas.

KC: I know. But I get to meet him though 'cause Thor's a pretty good friend of his so…Yeah, he's flying me down to Kansas sometime.

JC: Oh you’d have a riot!

KC: Yeah, I wanna go really bad. Last time I was in Kansas I wanted to try to just knock on his door but I was too nervous. I had a Lead Belly record in my arm, I was ready to go.

JC: That's too bad. Well, you'll just have to go there, yeah. I'm from Nebraska so I know that whole area pretty well…Nothing much happening there. They vote Republican pretty much.

KC: Actually Burroughs gave me a first edition of Naked Lunch, signed,

JC: That's groovy, that's cool.

KC: But I still mean to meet him.

JC: So you guys gonna put out a new album soon?

KC: Well we’d like to, we pretty much have enough material but we're trying to decide where we want to record. We tried to record at Reciprocal but the neighbors sort of complain by ten at night. Then I was only here for a couple of days, so we got about three tracks done. It's in Ballard. It's where we recorded our first record. And we did it with Jack Endino — the guy who did our record.

JC: What's his name again?

KC: Jack Endino.

JC: Oh right, he's from Seattle isn't he?

KC: Yeah…

JC: Actually, a friend of mine…I was telling this to your drummer, Dave, that I went to school with a pretty cool producer — Steve Albini. I was in a band with him actually.

KC: What was that?

JC: Well, it wasn't anything, it was like, he was really just wanting to start this punk band — it was like ’79. And, there's like two people in the whole school — Northwestern — that were any way into this music. So he grabbed me but I didn't know how to do shit. It was pretty pathetic, so we lasted no time at all — I was out of there. But I guess he's a pretty good producer.

KC: Oh yeah, he's my favorite actually. I really want him to do this next record but I don't think he really likes us. We haven't officially asked him but the rumor mill came out in the papers and so everyone was saying that he was going to do it already. So he sent a fax to like three of the papers in England — like Melody Maker and NME — and said that there's no way he's associated with us in any way and he's not doing our next record because we haven't asked him. So I don't know…

JC: Well then ask him!

KC: Well I will, I will. But…It was just…I dunno…It just kinda made me feel like a dork, y'know?

JC: Oh yeah…Well see, his whole thing is he's a real confrontational kinda person.

KC: Yeah I know. That'd be, that's kinda half the reason I wanna use him.

JC: He's very confrontational. I mean, he'll just say stuff just to say it and it doesn't mean he doesn't want to work with ya. I mean, he may say you suck! He’d say that to an interviewer…But he would still do it. He used to light fires in the dorms and stuff, he's just that kinda person — just for the hell of it.

KC: Oh yeah, I don't care about that stuff, I really don't. I've heard a lot of Albini stories…

ML: So what's this new sound you're looking for?

JC: Perry Como I think…

KC: I dunno…Yeah, Perry Como and Kojak…

JC: Get back to the roots — the Seattle roots.

KC: I've got so many effects pedals that I'm just overwhelmed by them and just making so much noise. It's really not music! It's just — actually it sounds a lot like Big Black, Steve Albini’s band…It's definitely different.

JC: Well let's figure out something here — what do you wanna do in terms of…Do you want to get Kurt first so he can get on?

ML: Well, that's fine, basically…

JC: So turn the backdrop so you can do him — or no? OK, good… Let me ask him, ask him.

ML: Did you work in like a movie theater ever, when you were really young?

JC: No, he was a janitor. The power — of Ajax.

KC: Yeah, I was a janitor. Nope, I never actually worked in Aberdeen — I worked in Ocean Shores.

JC: A subtle difference — between the two towns?

KC: Yep. Subtle.

JC: I'm going to go to Aberdeen — I wanna go to Maria's Hair Shop.

KC: Oh, you'll love Maria!

JC: I love Maria, I met her at your show man! She's a sweetie-pie, I really liked her! She definitely talks. I mean, I talk a lot…

KC: [In a high-pitched voice] Chris! Your hair's too long! You should have a crown!

JC: Chris would have gone — “right.”

KC: I know, yeah, he's kinda blocked her out…

JC: I thought she was a trip. Her whole family — it was such a family affair. They were just like this nice family coming there, Maria's just too fun.

KC: Yeah, my dad, for the first time in six or seven years got back there.

JC: Oh, that's right! How was that? God…

KC: It was kind of a weird thing. I dunno…

JC: You hadn't seen him in six or seven years. Oh wow…

KC: It was just like…

JC: He's a big fan of your music now.

KC: That's what I hear.

JC: No he's not!

KC: Sure he is!

JC: Seriously?

KC: Well yeah, of course! I mean…

JC: How old is he?

KC: Errr…I don't know.

JC: In his forties? Fifties?

KC: Probably late forties.

JC: Good for him.

KC: I don't know his birthday — and he hated what I used to do.

JC: My parents hate what I do.

ML: My mum likes your stuff!

KC: Everybody's mum likes our stuff — we're not doing it right are we? [Laughs]

JC: Yeah, that's true — what's going wrong here? Put out another album like R.E.M. put out. Their recent album? It's just not melodic, it's just down…There's no “Happy Shiny People” type lyrics or anything. Really, it's just like they just sort of went the other direction. Nah, but then…So you've got to milk that Rock 'n' Roll thing man as long as you can…

KC: Oh sure…

JC: You've got maybe three years, you've got to get rich off it and then go back to being a janitor.

KC: Oh in just a few years because I mean, Garth Brooks milks it like a mother! He puts out like two albums every year — last year he had two albums out and this year he has two albums out.

ML: And the last three are in the charts at any given time. All at the same time.

KC: That's why we're putting out this throwaways, B-side record out really soon with just demo stuff we did a few years ago. They'll eat it up right now so...

JC: Just feed ‘em! How much time do you have y'know? There's not going to be any more Beatles, Rolling Stones things any more. People last about five years max, at most.

KC: Oh yeah…

Unidentified person: Really? You don't think there's going to be anymore?

JC: No man, nobody last's twenty years — twenty-five years! Have you seen a group in the last fifteen years that's lasted…

KC: REO Speedwagon.

JC: Actually, I want to see you play REO Speedwagon…That'd be great — you should do covers of Bachman–Turner Overdrive, REO Speedwagon, Kansas…So, question for you; what do you want to do, that you've never done, in a photo, that expresses who you are or what your music is? I mean, really seriously, think about that, 'cause we have ideas but…

JC: We're going to have you hang off the Space Needle. Here's our mock-up, see? Here's what the cover's going to look like; “Seattle Sucks.” All right? I'm going to change in a second but I'm basically sawing the Space Needle, OK? Michael's hanging off it and he's stolen your song title “Stay Away” so the whole idea is it sucks, don't come here. OK?

KC: Good idea! Californians — stay away.

JC: Except it won't be big enough to do that. So we were going to have you hanging with him, or we were going to have you in the shape of the K or we're going to have you playing on — actually we're just gonna try different things. But that's the concept we're working with.

KC: OK.

JC: Also we want to get one shot with Kurt at an espresso cart. I want to use that inside. I want you to be like ‘Mr. Espresso’ just pull on the lever OK? Actually we could do that right away while she's outside or shall we have her bring the cart in here?

ML: Actually I don't know if I can talk her into bringing it in.

JC: Let's do it out there. Let me talk to her right now then. We'll do that first so we can get that out of the way, 'cause it'll get dark out there, see.

KC: Hi, Chris! We're going to do a shot out here OK?

JC: Is there a lever?

ML: No, there's not a lever. There's buttons and shit. It'll be cool.

JC: Yeah. Let's do that. It'll be cool. We'll have the monks buying a cookie from Kurt….Right, I gotta get dressed here, shit. You didn't bring a guitar did you, Mr. Cobain? You gave up on that right? Fuck the guitar. You're playing an accordion now I hear?

KC: I have wah-wah pedal shoes…That's my thing now.

JC: Fuck guitar man! You should do bassoon. That's your look man, you've got to milk it.

KC: Yeah, that's what I talked about yesterday. You know what? This image that I have, I should be able to write off my stage clothes because these are my stage clothes. But I can't do that now — I guess they changed the IRS laws. You can't write off under five dollars.

[Photos]

JC: We're trying to do this lampoon of this ‘grunge look’…See what we were going to do on the inside was have you — we're gonna open it up — and it's going to be you, holding your baby and Courtney’s right there and it's sort of like American Gothic, like happy family look and it's gonna say “Grunge is Dead.”

KC: Uh-huh.

JC: But we thought it's a little too negative, people might not get too “didn't get the joke,” and they might take it too literally.

JC: Kurt, you wanna wear a chain wallet? Have wallet, will travel.

KC: I have a hippy purse, I don't even carry a wallet. Well I do, in my hippy purse.

JC: Oh that's right, you've got a hippy purse. See now kids all over America are going to be buying those hippy purses…See the problem is you're now a caricature.

KC: Yeah!

JC: See? I can imitate you right here and it's not you I'm imitating it's the caricature. It's why I say you've got to start playing Perry Como because…OK, here we go — Mr Espresso. Here we go! He wants an espresso Kurt, fix him up!

JC: See we have a book coming out next June and hopefully we're going to make it into a movie — it's a big deal. So maybe that's what we'll do! Maybe as part of the promotion in LA we'll just put Courtney, Kurt and the kid in an RV. We'll go and have the book signing at an RV park — wouldn't that be great? We'll get a bunch of people to come…We should have a barbecue.

ML: We're pretty white trash though, Kurt.

JC: We are — we're very white trash.

KC: I'm not. [Chuckles]

JC: See you're like bourgeois — we're Monk white trash…

KC: What's that place in Kansas? Starts with a Y, it's supposed to be the eighth wonder of the universe, it's supposed to be a satanic place…Yull? There's a church — there's an old burnt out church there, it's in this really small town outskirts of like — somewhere in Kansas, it's not too far away from Lawrence I don't think. And all this weirdness keeps going on about it, happened for years, a lot of people have seen ghosts…Urge Overkill put out an EP — oh, Stull — that's what it's called. We went there one night.

JC: Oh shit, I've heard of this place. How was it? I think I've seen Stull on an album cover.

KC: Yeah that was Urge Overkill. I swear to God there is some kind of scary stuff going on. I just remember walking toward it and it seemed to be getting further and further away — it was really pitch black. And like the Urge Overkill guys saw dogs — and there were all these dogs barking like real violently from the neighbors. It just wasn't normal at all — and we all felt this weird presence, this weird, evil presence. We just ran back to the van. They were so scared they wrote a record about it.

[Photos]

ML: Before we leave can we have you sign something…? Will you sign my leg here?

JC: Oh, you're gonna sign that? I love you, you're so cute! I don't believe in this sort of thing but maybe I should — should we try and profit off of Rock ‘n’ Roll? Do you think they'll be worth something?

KC: Sure! Anything with my name on it…I don't know how to write professional autographs…

© Jim Crotty & Michael Lane, 1992