NIRVANA- In the Court of King Kurt
Face, September, 1993
PAGE: 6 | back

"I'm really glad we didn't put out a purposefully bad record. I would've done it for sure a year ago, but now I've learned to ignore everything, all that celebrity thing" - Kurt

Although they performed the song on last year's MTV Video Awards (it didn't go down too well), Kurt says they're not putting it out as a single. But even as an album track, who says people will see the mockery, especially if people are as stupid as he thinks they are? "It would've been harder if we put it out on 'Nevermind', but I think there have been enough articles for us to have got our message across... I can't help feeling that everyone knows we're anti-rape. I totally agree that it's weird for you to be singing it. I have a problem with that too. You're not the first to point it out... but it was out of desperation, that's the only excuse I can come up with. "

He looks crushed, so we move on. He is mentally planning the video for "Heart-Shaped Box". He wants William S Burroughs to do a cameo in it. They recently put out a record together, Kurt using the pseudonym (sort of) o f "Kurtis Cobhaine", but they didn't meet up, or even speak on the phone. "I heard he really liked my lyrics, but I doubt he likes the music. It's a real compliment, fuck yeah. It's a total blessing. I don't want him in our video just because of who he is. He's also this really interesting-looking old man. I want to meet him too; I'd be nervous, but I've met other idols. I've met Iggy Pop. I'm supposed to be doing a record with him." He stops short. "My God! Listen to me namedrop. "

THE MEDIA HAVE BECOME so fixated with Kurt and Courtney - not only a Nineties Sid and Nancy, they observed, but a Lennon and Ono too - that the band now issue a statement to tell their side of things every couple of months. Last year Kurt did a cover story with The Advocate, America's highest-profile gay magazine. In the Q&A he talked about hanging out with gay guys at high school, sometimes pretending to be gay himself to wind up the Beavis and Butthead types and how, had he not met Courtney, he would have continued a "bisexual lifestyle". He got a great response from those who read the interview. But? "But the AP Wire reported it and twisted the words, saying I was a practising bisexual, that Courtney didn't mind 'cause we have an open relationship. Everyone gets their news from AP Wire - even MTV, so we had to release a statement. "

More recently the English music press quoted from a new, authorised biography by Rolling Stone journalist Michael Azzerad: "I have no respect for the English people." Kurt denies having been that general: "I meant I hated English journalists." In this, he doubtlessly includes Victoria Clarke and Britt Collins, who wanted to call their unofficial biography after the Nirvana T-shirt which said: "Flower-sniffin'; kitty-pettin'; baby-kissin' corporate rock whores". The couple's investigations into Nirvana got too detailed, too inquisitive, thought Kurt and Courtney, who finally lost their cool. Last October, Clarke played a message of her answering machine to publications from Select to the Independent. It was Kurt Cobain, saying he could have her "snuffed out", but would "try the legal way first".

Since then, no one has been quite sure if the book's actually coming out. "Their publishers are so afraid we're gonna sue them that we received a copy of the book yesterday to proof read. We get to edit anything we want." Kurt laughs at the absurdity of this, but his face is weary rather than gleeful. "I guess we've done a pretty good job of scaring them." At the time of going to press, the book had no publishers. "It's not been finally decided yet," said Clarke and Collins' agent. Will it definitely go ahead? "We hope so." A proof of the book shows they've kept the working title, even though Nirvana insist it is their copyright.

The concluding word in the epilogue is dedicated to anyone considering a career as a rock biographer - "Don't". The biography is as you might expect it to be: a detailed look at Nirvana, their rise to success, their foibles, lots of quotes from interviews and a whole section on Courtney Love. The most bizarre part is the chapter entitled "Load Up On And Kill Your Friends", which attempts to sidestep possible legal proceedings by taking the form of a "Pinteresque comedy in three acts, on the drama, the dilemma and absurdity of being a rock star." A jumble of disparate quotes stitched together, it is both intentionally and unintentionally comical.

A few months ago everyone was talking about Kurt s spell in jail. "Obviously Courtney and I have had lots of times to figure our story out right. We were playing loud music, the neighbours called the cops. The cops were totally friendly and treated me with a lot of respect - they didn't even figure out who I was till they took me to the police station. They said one of us had to go to jail, some new Seattle law about domestic violence.

"Courtney and I started arguing about who was gonna go to jail. I have to admit I was rather drunk - I get drunk easily - and I don't remember the whole chain of events. We got into a scuffle, Courtney was wearing a choker and I ripped it off because she threw juice in my face. She did that ,cause we were yelling at each other. It turned into a domestic fight in front of the cops. They asked out of the blue if there were any guns in the house. I said no, but Courtney thought she'd co-operate and said: 'Yeah, they're upstairs in the closet put away safely, with no bullets in them.' So they confiscated my three fuckin' guns. The police report came out as us fighting over guns, me assaulting her with a gun and trying to choke her. The last thing I want to be thought of as is a wife choker. It's just another perfect example of how cursed we are. "

Cursed they may be, but it's not as cut and dried as Kurt makes it sound. The royal couple have not exactly gone out of the way to lead straight, clandestine lives. The on/off drugs stories, the abusive phone calls to Clarke, the continuous and at times conftised acknowledging and then dismissal of the media. As Yoko Ono was accused of putting a knife in John Lennon's career, so Courtney has been charged with toying with Kurt's. Kurt has his own view on things. "We just happen to piss people off. Courtney's a really threatening woman. She's totally smart and she speaks her mind, she speaks too much of the truth."

IT'S GETTING LATE. Kurt is fading fast. Walking down to the lobby of the hotel - a hideous place with shagpile carpets and uptight staff which was once owned by Leona Helmsley, a big Reagan supporter and tax evader who's now locked up - he talks about how important it is to have friends outside the m usic industry he can trust. "Like Frances' nanny, he's become one of my best friends. He's not at all thrilled by what I do. I totally look forward to seeing him every day. Knowing that I can establish a relationship like that, being a big rock star, that makes me happy. " A big rock star? "That's what I call myself now." A smile flickers across his face. He stops by a vase of unnaturally huge flowers in the lobby. There's a purple one which looks especially ridiculous. Kurt pulls it out. He walks towards the revolving doors and out on to the street. "This is for Courtney," he says, grinning to himself. Grunge is dead. Long live King Kurt .

"Heart-Shaped Box " is out on August 30 followed by "In Utero " on September 13

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