Love Will Tear Us Apart
New Musical Express, August 29 1992
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BY THE time I get to see Kurt, it's over an hour after the show's finished. I'm watching Chris and Dave fool around at a disc presentation ceremony, a routine they're well versed in by now, and talking kilt tartans to Matt Cameron from Soundgarden, who were due to play here with Guns N' Roses the following night but the gig's been cancelled. Anton tells me I can have 20 minutes and then he's sending the other two on to finish things off. He doesn't make 'it clear whether these are the only terms to which Kurt would agree to do an interview.
It's pretty obvious that Kurt Cobain has been running on reserve tanks for most of this Euro-jaunt. Never have I seen him so static onstage, so apparently unmoved by the whole experience of playing rock'n'roll. The contrast is made all I the more poignant by the 'Lithium' promo vid and its scenes of psyched-up mayhem from last year's Reading.
"Yeah, last year's shows were way better," he nods. "I don't think we've had a long enough break. I'm still not enjoying it as much as I should. According to our manager and most of the people we work with, the break that we had was too long. Everyone wants us to work and work all the time, and not stop. It was only four months of relaxation and I really needed that. I've come to a lot of conclusions about myself within the last four months. I've learned to accept the fact of being a rock star and how big the band's become. I can at least deal with it, I'm not as pissed off as I was. It's still.... I dunno. I'm such a picky person that everything has to be perfect."
Does it feel like you created something that's got to be broken down now?
"Well, it's a bit embarrassing to play in front of kids who wear Skid Row T-shirts, y'know?" he chuckles. "It's really hard to overcome that, to just shake it off and say, 'Oh well, they're just dumb kids, maybe they'll throw away their Skid Row records and listen to Mudhoney because of us. . . .'but that story's old. I'm tired of talking about 'the underground'! " I've never claimed to be a Punk rocker, I've just claimed to have liked punk rock music. I'd Iike to be a rhythm guitar player in a band! No-one realises how f__in' hard it is to scream at the top Of your lungs and concentrate on playing guitar soIos. we're actually thinking of getting Buzz from The Melvins in to play guitar with us live. Its still not gonna relieve me of my vocal duties, though."
Oh, yes Kurt, but the band wouldn't be the same if you didn't sing.
"No, I know that." He laughs. "Well maybe I could start another band. I'm thinking of doing that, actually, with Mark Arm and Eric from Hole. But then, I'm so lazy with this band I couldn't imagine being in two bands at once. Jesus!"
It sounds like you'd like to escape from the limelight. Does it get you down to read every week that you're a heroin addict?
"Yeah, it does get to me, it pisses me off. I had no idea that being in a commercial rock band would be like this, because I've never paid attention to other commercial rock bands. I've never read a U2 interview so I don't know if there are rumours about them doing insane things. I'm not really aware of any other rock A band that have had so many rumours written about them. Guns N' Roses went into it admitting stuff, trying to create something, same with Jane's Addiction, who totally flunted it, totally glamorised heroin use. I think that's ridiculous."
There then follows the weirdest episode of a pretty weird two days, I've just asked Kurt whether the heroin rumours are true - to which he's laughed, said " No!" and made me feel his arms for any tell-tale scars or holes, though obviously shooting up isn't the only way to take smack and to be honest I'm not sure I knew what I was meant to be looking for, but still, it's an impressive gesture at the very least - when Anton walks in with a woman I recognise as Susan Silver, manager of Soundgarden. She waves at Kurt, says, "I just wanna say goodnight," then sits down next to him. Anton tells me to turn the tape machine off.
"Just turn it off!"
As well as being a sweet guy, Anton's a useful Thai boxer and he's got these dogs, see.... So off it goes. Susan talks intently to Kurt, looking directly into his eyes, the gist of it being just call me if there's anything you want, then she and Anton leave.
Erm, Kurt, about what you were saying....
"See! She thinks I'm on heroin!" he whispers excitedly. "She does! Didn't you see it in her eyes? And I've heard it from a whole bunch of people, she says stuff, she actually tells people I'm on heroin all the time. That's Soundgarden's manager, it goes from the f__in' highest level of people in the music industry down to the street punk kids."
MAKE OF all this what you will.
Perhaps I was naive enough to suppose that, when you've sold as many records as Nirvana have, it would convey power, a means by which the band could control their own destiny. And maybe it has but it also seems to have raised the stakes unhelpfully, even dangerously, high.
Maybe I'm reading too muck into little things, maybe it's all as petty as Dave says and maybe I'm just fearing the worst. Frankly, having spent two days looking at how different it is for Nirvana right now - or rather, how it was six weeks ago - I found it difficult not to.
No, look, Reading'll be great, just the boost they need. They can still do it, you know. Put Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Chris Novoselic on a stage or in a rehearsal space or in a studio and they can still wreak magic, the three losers who took on the world and won. And once the baby's born everyone's bound to calm down and take stock of things, realise what's important in life. Because that's all it is, after all, it's only life.
Dave: "Did you know if you take the 'N' and the 'D' and the first 'E' out of 'Nevermind' it spells 'vermin'?"
< END >
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