LIVE NIRVANA SESSIONS HISTORY (The Retards) April 22, 1991 - Melvins practice space & Crover residence, San Francisco, CA, US View in Google Maps

  • The Retards
    • Cobain, Kurt (vocals, guitar)
    • Crover, Dale (drums)
    • Grohl, Dave (bass)
  • Shane, Debbi (engineer)
  • [O] Drain You
  • [?] others?
Source ID Quality Complete Runtime Lowest Gen Tracks Featured Notes
SBD #1 8.0 0:02:57 Unofficial CD (Dressed For Success) • Drain You Includes The Retards intro.

Little was known about the origin of this 4-track demo until August 2002, when session engineer, Debbi Shane, recognized the recording on a bootleg a friend had found at a flea market.

Shane explains that the session came about while Cobain and Grohl were staying over at the house she and ex-boyfriend, Dale Crover, shared in San Francisco: [The session] was Kurt's idea, he was wanting to start-up as many bands as possible (I believe this idea was inspired by his ex-girlfriend, Tobi Vail). I don't remember who came up with the name, The Retards, I just remember that it happened quick, and it had to—we only had two days. (1)

We went to a practice space that my band shared with the Melvins, we played some of Dale's songs, some of Dave's songs, some of my songs, and then Kurt said he had this song (Drain You), but it wasn't going to be a NIRVANA song because he couldn't come up with a drum part, and he just wasn't sure if he liked it or not. Then he heard Dale's drum part and everything changed! (1)

Cobain and Grohl were due in Los Angeles later that week to start work on Nevermind, They had to take off the following morning but we still needed to do the vocals. I think Kurt pulled out a notebook or a torn up piece of paper with some words on it and he and I sat on the living-room floor so he could do the vocals. We ran the 4-track through the stereo so that we could hear it through the speakers and the headphones in an attempt to get the loudest monitor sound possible so that he could sing/scream/sing. He recorded some back-ups, we mixed it and they split. (1)

Shane believes that the session was recorded on a Tascam Porta 05/4-track with two inputs, We probably mic'd the drums from over head with an SM57 and we probably mic'd the room with an SM58—those were the only mics we had. (1)

Shane admits to being slightly disappointed at the edit released on the With The Lights Out box-set, they basically chopped off the beginning in which you hear either Dale, Kurt or Dave saying, We are The Retards, and we are going to play a song for you! She also recalls playing the tape for Krist Novoselic's wife, Shelli, some years after the original recording, [Shelli] asked me if Krist had ever heard it and I told her that I didn't think so. We both agreed that we liked this version best! (1)

A jam, purported to be from this session, is circulating in MP3 format; it's authenticity is open to debate.

  1. Shane, Debbi, 2002 & 2005. Posting on the Forums -

© Alex Roberts. August 28, 2011