June 16, 1994
DESPITE INCREASED DEMAND FOR Nirvana songs in the wake of Kurt Cobain's suicide, the band's label, Geffen Records, recently chose propriety over profits. It scrapped two Nirvana projects in the works: a third single from In Utero, "Pennyroyal Tea," and a CD-5 to be released during this summer's Lollapalooza tour, on which Nirvana were expected to perform. An album and a video documenting the band's appearance on MTV Unplugged (the album reportedly including songs that never made the telecast) were under discussion, but Ray Farrell of Geffen's sales department says it's "too sensitive a time" to consider releasing it. (A bootleg recording of the Unplugged telecast is already circulating.)
According to Farrell, the only new Nirvana song that the label will definitely be issuing this summer is "Pay to Play," a different version of Nevermind's "Stay Away." The song will appear on the compilation DGC Rarities, which will be released on July 5. Geffen is also forging ahead with a home video chronicling the history of Nirvana. While the video was being edited at the time of Cobain's death, its completion was delayed when its director, Kevin Kerslake, sued Nirvana in March over its "Heart-Shaped Box" video, which he claims to be a copyright infringement.
All that's left in the label's vaults, says Farrell, "are a few English B sides that Kurt never intended for release in the United States." Band members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl are in possession of the rest of Nirvana's unissued material, which consists of a few studio sessions and homemade demos.
In the weeks following the death of Cobain, Geffen Records found itself with all three of its Nirvana albums - 1993's In Utero, 1992's Incesticide and 1991's Nevermind - in the Billboard Top 200 chart, while 1989's Bleach jumped to No. I on the Billboard catalog-album charts. However, Geffen halted its promotional efforts for Nirvana as well as for Hole, the band of Cobain's widow, Courtney Love. Hole's second album, Live Through This, was released four days after Cobain's body was found. It debuted at No. 55 and started slipping down the charts in the following weeks. A month after its release, though, while Love is in seclusion and the band has no plans to tour, Geffen has resumed some promotional activity.
Geffen has no plans to donate its increase in revenue to charity, but Seattle's Sub Pop, Bleach's label, has announced that it will use "a good portion of Nirvana proceeds since Cobain's death" to start a fund to "help educate people about depression," according to spokesman Nils Bernstein.