Verse Chourus Verse: The Recording History Of NIRVANA
Goldmine #432, February 14, 1997
PAGE: 11 | back
Meanwhile, over in Europe, Jack Endino, on tour with Skin Yard, heard "Teen Spirit" for the first time. "That song followed us all over Europe," he says. "We started to get kind of freaked out; we couldn't get away from this damn Nirvana song!" Calls home kept the band up-to-date on the Nevennind's sales figures, and, like Mari Earl, Endino had a sense of trepidation. "It was obvious that this phenomenon was beginning to happen," he says. "And I sort of intuitively had a hunch that they weren't really psychologically prepared for success if it happened. Because they were just these nice guys from Aberdeen that seemed an awful long way from 'The Biz' and all the nasty stuff that goes on. And I didn't think they would enjoy that part of it particularly, if they ever got to see it. Which turned out to be true."
Endino also got to witness Nirvana's reaction to success first-hand, when Skin Yard opened for Nirvana at a November 14 show in Vienna (when the album was in the Top 40), and when Endino saw the band a few weeks later, November 25, in Amsterdam (when the album had reached the Top 10). "Kurt was okay in Vienna," he says. "They seemed to be having fun. In Amsterdam, he wasn't doing too good. It was a really weird show. Kurt was really pissed off; there were all these people with cameras and movie cameras on the stage, and he was a little out of tune and he was very angry at these cameras—'Get the hell off my stage!' And backstage he was really uneasy, he looked really pale. Everybody seemed to be really uneasy and very unhappy Like suddenly the success was starting to bother them because people were starting to come at them. Suddenly people wouldn't leave them alone."
While in Europe, Nirvana made a number of interesting radio and television appearances. None of the radio appearances featured the group's current single, and one session didn't even include anything from Nevermind. The band's third session for John Peel included the as yet unrecorded "Dumb," "Drain You," and "Endless Nameless." They also recorded a session for another British DJ, Mark Goodier, performing "Something In The Way," "Been A Son," "Aneurysm," and "New Wave Polly" (a fast, electric version of "Polly"). They also recorded a session for Holland radio station VARA, performing "Here She Comes Now," and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" the latter another song the band never officially recorded.
For their U.K. TV appearances, the band was locked into promoting "Teen Spirit," but found other ways to liven things up. After being introduced on "The Word," Cobain revealed the new love of his life, telling the audience, "I just want everyone in this room to know that Courtney Love, of the pop group Hole, is the best fuck in the world." On "Top Of The Pops," Cobain adopted a booming baratone to deliver "Teen Spirit," and (along with the band) made no attempt to mime his instrument playing properly. When the host of The Jorathan Ross Show announced that the group would be performing "Lithium," they turned the tables and performed "Territorial Pissings" instead.
Back in the U.S., two more Nirvana related recordings were being released. Earth's CD EP, Bureaucratic Desire For Revenge, was released in October, and featured guitar and background vocals by "Kurt Kobain," though Cobain and fellow backing vocalist Kelly Canary (formerly of Dickless, currently of Teen Angel) were credited as "specialists." A video of the same name was released, packaged in a white case, in a limited run of 100 hand-numbered copies. The band, Cobain, and Canary do not appear in the video; the visuals are grainy "racy" films of people spanking each other interspersed with other found footage of such things as aircraft carriers. In November, Teriyaki Asthma Vol. 1-5 was released, compiling all five EPs in the series. The vinyl album was released in a limited run of 2000; it was also released on CD and cassette and is still in print. In Europe, the set was a double-album.
By January 1992, Nevermind had already gone platinum (it would eventually sen a total of 13.8 million copies worldwide, 7 million of that in the U.S.) ard was on its way to topping the charts ("Teen Spirit" peaked at #6, while in the U.K., the album peaked at #13, "Teen Spirit" at #7). The weekend the album reached #1, Nirvana was in New York. On January 10, they taped a session for MTV, performing "Teen Spirit," "Drain You," "On A Plain," "Polly," and "Territorial Pissings." Alex Coletti, who worked on the shoot, told Guitar World that the band had performed five or six other songs that have never been aired, including "Molly's Lips" and "Stain." The next night, the band appeared on "Saturday Night Live," performing "Teen Spirit" and "Territorial Pissings." Nirvanamania had arrived.
The next Nirvana recording to be issued was the Hormoaning promo, released to promote the band's February tour to Australia and Japan. Hormoaning contained six songs: "Aneurysm" and "Even In His Youth" from the "Teen Spirit" single, and "D-7," "Turnaround," "Some Of A Gun," "Molly's Lips" from the 1990 John Peel session. In Austraila, the EP was released as a 12-inch.record (on burgundy vinyl), a cassette, CD (5000 copies of each format). In Japan, the release was CD only, and featured a different cover.
Another interesting promo CD released around at this time was Nevermind, It's An Interview. The CD featured interview segments intercut with song clips and complete tracks. Most of the complete tracks were taken from the band's Halloween '91 show in Seattle, and included "About A Girl," "Aneurysm," "Drain You," "On A Plain," "Molly's Lips," "School," along with the Nevermind versions of "Territorial Pissings" and "Teen Spirit." This promo is especially valuable as it contains material unavailable anywhere else.
"Drain You" was planned as Nevermind's second single, and CD promos were released in late '91. But according to Jim Merlis, director of publicity at DGC, "It got kind of swamped by 'Teen Spirit' so it never really was played. 'Teen Spirit' had such a life of its own." As a result, there wasn't another single released until March 3, '92, when "Come As You Are" was issued. The 7-inch was b/w a live version of "Drain You," the cassette, 12inch, and CD adding a live version of "School," both from the Halloween'91 show. The song was the only other single to reach the U.S. Top 40, peaking at #32. A CD promo and 12-inch promo were also released.
In the U.K., "Come As You Are" was again released in four formats; the 7-inch and cassette were b/w "Endless, Nameless," the 12-inch-both black vinyl and picture disc-added the live version of "School," and the CD added the live version of "Drain You." The song performed better in the U.K., reaching #14. In Germany, the 12-inch picture disc was b/w "Endless, Nameless" and the live version of "Drain You."
Though DGC was anxious to have Nirvana go back on the road, the group- specifically Cobain-demanded a break. The previous seven months touring had left them exhausted; "We'd be on an adventure," Novoselic told Michael Azerrad, "Now it's a circus." The unexpected success of Nevermind and the resulting media explosion added to the overall tension, leading to, among other arguments, a dispute over royalties. The band members had seemingly gone their seperate ways, Grohl to Virginia, Novoselic to his new home in Seattle, and Cobain, now married to Courtney Love, to Los Angeles.
One of Nirvana's few recording sessions of the year took place in April at Barrett Jones' Laundry Room studio, now relocated to Seattle. The move was precipitated by Jones' being kicked out of his home in Arlington. "I basically had two weeks to get out," he says. "And after spending some time trying to find another place to relocate my studio, I decided to move out here. And Dave had just moved out here and joined some band I'd never heard of called Nirvana. So I thought I'd move out here too!"
When Jones arrived in Seattle, in June '91, the Laundry Room was initially located in his house in West Seattle. "It was never really officially open there, but that is where I did the Nirvana stuff, and the King Buzzo record," he says, "King Buzzo" being Buzz Osborne (Grohl also appeared on the record). The April session, which Jones thinks took two days, was for the purpose of recording tracks for various singles and yet another tribute album: "Curmudgeon," "Oh, The Guilt," "Return Of The Rat."
"All three songs had a place to go," Jones says. "I don't think they'd ever really played them before, but they figured them out pretty quick. They're all pretty easy. I think they were trying to be a little more punk rock about the whole thing. Trying to get away from the Nevermind glossiness. I think that was the purpose. They wanted to be as low budget as possible about it. I only had a little 8-track, and I wasn't even properly set up to record, but it came out great anyway" Jones doesn't think any outtakes or alternate versions were saved from the session.
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