Tim Fish
Krist Novoselic
Publisher Title Transcript
The Press Democrat Friday's Cow Palace show benefits Bosnia-Herzegovina victims Yes

No, Nirvana bassist Chris Novoselic did not want to discuss grunge or “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” He had zip to say about the band's long-awaited album due out this summer and in general had nothing to say about Nirvana itself.

“Ah, I don't even want to talk about it,” Novoselic said in an otherwise cordial phone interview from Los Angeles.

Novoselic was eager to discuss only one topic: rape victims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, for which Nirvana is performing a benefit concert Friday at San Francisco's Cow Palace.

“We have such a high profile, we just thought we'd do our bit,” Novoselic said. “It seems like the word horror is synonymous with Bosnia-Herzegovina.”

“High profile” is an understatement as applied to a band like Nirvana, by most accounts the hottest band in rock. Led by singer-songwriter Kurt Cobain, the Seattle trio's hit single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” kicked off the grunge rock movement in 1991 and helped sell more that 4 million copies of the “Nevermind.”

Friday's concert is a coup for fans, since the band hasn't toured in more than a year. The last Bay Area concert was New Year's Eve 1991 when Nirvana opened for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The concert is also something of a who's-who of alternative rock. The bill includes L7, a female grunge band active in the pro-choice movement; the politically minded jazz-rappers Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and The Breeders, lead by former Pixies bassist Kim Deal.

Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Tresnjevka Women's Group, an organization in Zagreb, Croatia.

Novoselic has been following the civil war in the former Yugoslavia since the beginning of the conflict and although many of the atrocities have come to light, the rape of Croatian and Muslim women by Serbian nationalists has received little notice.

“Rape is always part of war,” Novoselic said. “But this rape is systematic and part of the ethnic cleansing. The goal is to dilute the Muslim population and it's also a way of humiliating the enemy.”

Between 20,000 and 50,000 women have been raped, depending on whose figures you rely on, Novoselic said. Many of the women are reportedly held against their will in dozens of rape camps, forced to give birth as a form of ethnic humiliation.

“It seemed like there is a lot of world inaction.” Novoselic said. “It's just like ‘Man, what the heck is going on here? and nobody is doing anything. Do we just turn our backs while a nation suffers?”

While Novoselic said one concert won't solve the problem, “it will raise some money and consciousness. To do our part until our leaders get involved.”

Friday's concert, Novoselic is quick to mention, will have little sermonizing.

“No banners or anything. There will be tables for anybody who wants information on the issue,” Novoselic said. “It's pretty much going to be a straight-forward rock show.”

As for what fans can expect from Nirvana, Novoselic was vague, predicting a mixed bag of old and new music.

The event: Nirvana, with L7, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and The Breeders
Date: Friday
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Cow Palace, San Francisco
Admission: $19.50
Information: Tickets available at BASS, Phone: 546-BASS.

© Tim Fish, 1993