the story from the experts: the band themselves
|interviews | liner notes | etc|
"In October of 1993 Nirvana launched their tour in support of what was toSo how was the first show? I thought it was really good. What's it like to start a tour now today?
be their last studio album, In Utero, playing the Veterans Memorial
Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. MTV News flew out to catch the show and
speak with the band afterwards; here we are presenting extended excerpts
from the interview..."-MTV Online
So Kurt, when you fell, you didn't really jump that hard, you just sort of like lay down into them... What happened to you?
KURT: They immediately just started grabbing for me, trying to rip my flesh off for souvenirs. 'Oh I have a piece of Kurt's forearm... frame it'... I don't know.
Do you have an arrangement with your guys on the side of the stage, you know "come lift me out of it?" It looked like you were sort of playing while they were pulling on you and you were holding onto the guitar.
KURT: I think it's a reaction of the people who work with us, to try to save me when I do stupid things like that. They're never prepared for it. Before the show I wasn't like you know I'm going to do that, you know. I was really for a long time contemplating whether I should do it or not. I just wanted to do it, 'cause it used to be so much fun in clubs... reminiscing about the old days. I used to be able to jump out in the audience and they would carry me all the way to the back I used to be able to roll around in t he back. And it was really fun.
It was like a celebration. Everybody was like jumping and throwing up in the air and everything. Like a beach ball in an arena rock concert. But these kids, some of 'em don't understand that, they're not used to that. All they know how to do is to tear people apart.
It seems like, from you to the audience is like fifteen feet.
KURT: Not quite that. Not that much.
Does it feel distant?
KURT: It does feel fifteen feet but it's not fifteen feet it's about six feet...
Do you notice? Is there a trade off? When you're playing arenas obviously its a lot of people. I want to hear you talk about the difference in the mind of the audience. How close you are to them. Can you see the people... you can see the people off the spill lights. But the people forty yards away, you know, one hundred feet away... Do you have a sense of that? Do you feel the energy?
KURT: Oh, yeah, I can feel it, I can sense it. At certain times when the house lights come on during certain parts of the songs I can see everyone. I think "Lithium" is a good example because when we break into the distortion part, the lights all come on and I can see everyone jump up and down and I realize it's not just only the front part that I can see, it's the whole audience. And it's great. There's nothing better than that much of a capacity of people in tune with the band and giving off that much energy, it's just like a little club but one hundred times more. Yeah... they always sing during "Lithium", which is kind of neat.
KRIST: Or if they don't speak English they just go... (hums)
Is this an arena tour?
KRIST: We're playing some theaters.
KURT: But it says arena on a lot of the shows on the itinerary, but they're like five or six thousand seat places.
DAVE: They just do that to make us feel like we're popular.
KURT: They put arena down there to make us feel better.
Worchester's got a mini Madison Square Garden, it's got like five thousand seats. It's like out like it, but just shrunk. Do you guys think of playing smaller places?
KURT: We wanted to for sure. We determined about a year and a half ago after getting off of that grueling tour that we had. Well, first of all, that we were going to put out a record that would completely ruin our reputation and only a few hundred thousand people from every city would show up. But that wasn't the case. And then we realized that because of the production costs and because we have to bring our own lights and PA and all that stuff... It costs a lot of money, and if we were just to play venues and clubs and stuff we'd be totally in the hole. We're not nearly as rich as everyone thinks we are, so you have to try to play the biggest kind of place that you can if you're using this kind of production. We actually have... We have a couple of mannequins on stage. Nothing compared to an inflatable monster or an Eddie from Iron Maiden...
So, do you have backups in case you took some shots at the one... anatomical stuff isn't usually too cheap.
KRIST: Well they can glue it back together...
PAT: Duct tape...
It looks glued together. Talking about audiences, I seem to remember you guys talking about when you get an audience larger than a certain size you start attracting people that maybe isn't your audience. I remember the bass player from Jane's Addiction was going off that in the audience at Lollapalooza there's always people he'd never want to play to coming to their shows.
KURT: I think in the beginning when we were doing all those interviews when "Nevermind" was getting really popular, we were really concerned with the people who wanted to come and see our shows and have a good time. We were afraid we would have these mean type of people who just went to the shows to cause trouble and we didnít' want that. We didn't want to have to have security beat up on people to keep them in line. But since we've had the experience and we've had to play a couple of shows like this and there hasn't been any trouble. We're relieved of that kind of pressure. That's the only concern that we really had but it obviously translated into we hate our audience, which is bullshit.
KRIST: There's a meeting before every show between our road managers and the security people and they're saying you know anybody who gets too violent you just grab a person sit him down and walk him over to the side. We don't want to see any kind of nasty violence. It just escalates. People see that and they get appalled and we see that and we get appalled. It just drags the whole show down.
People also talk about selling our when you got big. That "if you've sold a lot of records there's something wrong" doesn't seem to be following you anymore.
KURT: It's too far beyond that now. It's far beyond that now. It's been going on for so long now. That issue doesn't even come up anymore.
You said before these weren't your words, but you said let's make a record to blow away the audience. Of that eight million people let's get rid of seven and a half million whatever your thinking... When you say that what to you mean?
KURT: Well when I say that, like I said the main reason was to make sure that we could have a good time at live shows. We just weren't comfortable with it at the time. And now that is been proven to us that there arenít any problems at the shows then it doesn't matter. People are behaving themselves. Maybe the message got across to them somehow, maybe all that bitching and complaining that we did may have worked a little bit.
So you weren't talking at that point about alienating or losing most of your audience?
KURT: I was at that point about a year and a half ago. I was completely fed up with the whole thing. I didn't want to be a rock star at all. It was just freaking me out, you know. But I've had two years to recuperate.
KRIST: You also hope you might transform somebody too, if you're saying something they might think about it.
(to Pat Smear)When the camera isn't on you you're quite animated and interesting... So how was the show for you tonight?
PAT: I loved it.
You were bouncing around...
PAT: I had a good time.
Who got hit in the head with the stick pin?
KURT: I got a bra.
KURT: My first bra.
PAT: I got a Germs T-shirt.
DAVE: Someone threw you a Germs T-shirt? That's cool!
PAT: It was used.
A lot of shoes coming over.
PAT: What's up with the shoes? Who would throw their shoes?
DAVE: There's only one that comes op. They go home hopping.
Are you staying in nice hotels? Do you like that? Would you rather be sleeping in a van?
KRIST: No we wouldn't rather be sleeping in a van. We've done that for years.
KURT: We've done that enough. You know if we were still doing it then fine but we've made a point to sleep on the bus as much as possible because buses are expensive so we're not staying in hotels as much as we would normally or as much as other bands would.
Got one of these full decked out buses?
KURT: One of those typical... You know, VCR... I remember a few years ago when we were lugging around our own equipment in a van, you know, five people cooped up in a van with our own equipment and we'd see a band with a bus and we'd thing man what a bunch of gluttonous bastards, you know? What a waste, those things must cost hundreds of dollars a day.
KRIST: I once pissed on one, on their air vent once. I said 'look at these rock stars' and I pissed on it.
KURT: But a lot of that's just out of spite. And also I looked into it and if I were to stay in a nice hotel every night and drive in a van then it would equal out the same. So what's the difference?
I wanted to ask about why you released the album in vinyl and did that first. Is it a vinyl thing, is it a fidelity thing?
KURT: We love vinyl. I only still buy vinyl. The only CDs I own are CDs that have been given to me. I just love vinyl. It is something sacred to me.
KRIST: This year I got a linear tracking turntable. Yeah, it sounds really good. Where have I been all these years without it? It seems like there's just this tone to vinyl. You listen to these old ZZ Top records and the drums are really harsh. Now they've re-issued all the ZZ Top records and the drums are all like (makes drum machine noise) It's like, terrible.
I ask because we did a story earlier this year...
PAT: Yeah, I saw that, that was a great story and you used the Nirvana record as an example.
We do a Shonen Knife piece every year. And you guys have supported Shonen Knife, you talked about them on the liner notes on "Incesticide" and just for the next time I do a piece on them I'd like to get a bite from you guys as to why they're great, why people should pay attention.
KURT: Oh, God, how do you explain something as pure as that? I'm at a loss for words when that subject comes up.
When did you first hear them?
KURT: Oh, a long time ago. When their first cassette came out on K Records. We took 'em on tour with us in England, it was weird because probably 90% of the audience had never heard them before and instantly they were just taken in by them and they were almost crying. You could see everyone fucking amazed by them. I don't know what it is. It is just something that you can't explain it's something that is sincere and good. You can't put it in words they're just really, really good.
One more serious question and two sillies. Someone at the station is doing a piece on men wearing dresses in rock and roll this year. And it is mostly a RuPaul thing but they asked me to ask you why you would choose to wear a dress on stage.
KURT: Comfortable? I don't know.
KRIST: The Rolling Stones wore dresses.
KURT: It's nothing new. It's been going on for years and years and years and I don't understand why it's such an issue still. But it seems like when bands do it now even when we do it, it is so exhausted. I don't know, I personally like to wear dresses and I wear them around the house sometimes. So, whatever.
PAT: The one dress I own Courtney gave me. Well, she didn't give it to me, she left it at my house.
KURT: Courtney has good taste in dresses...
PAT: Excellent. Norma Kamali. Ah! Looks so good on me!
KURT: I guess it's just I think a lot of bands do it to show their support for femininity and the female gender. I did it the first time when we played with the Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam, when we went on that tour with them, you know? I was at the height of freaking out about playing big places and I was convinced that a lot of people out there in the audience, you know, a lot of macho people would freak out about it and it would create a little controversy. I don't know if it did or not.
Are you and Eddie Vedder friends now? Have you always been friends?
KURT: We've never had a fight ever. I just have always hated their band. I didn't consider him a person that I really like. We've have a few conversations on the phone and he's a person I really like. You know, I really like him. He's a really nice person.
KRIST: He's come over my house a few times. We had a good time. He's really nice.
And he doesn't take exception that you don't like his band?
KURT: I don't think he really cares. I don't know. I can't say that now. I didn't like him then, when I was talking shit about him all the time. Well now I can appreciate him. I realize that the same people that like our band like their band. So why create some kind of feud over something as trite as that?
KRIST: You know how Metallica and G-N-R did a tour? We're going to have a Pearl Jam/Nirvana tour.
When they did the thing that they're doing right now with the vinyl and the CD release. To many people watching...
KRIST: Well, that was a kind of compromise by the label. They're like we're postponing your album, and we're like no, we want our album out. And one of their compromises was that they put the vinyl our. It wasn't really calculated.
KURT: I just feel sorry for the kids who have to decide on what they should buy in the next two months. Our record or our concert tickets or Pearl Jam's record. I mean, that's a lot of money for kids to shell out all of a sudden. I mean, I know that is more than I had when I was fifteen or sixteen. I feel really bad about that. I wish that we could have made a deal or something or put our record our a little bit earlier so we could have spaced it our a little bit longer.
KRIST: Like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones! Who's the Beatles and who's the Rolling Stones?
KURT: I'm not putting Pearl Jam down for putting out their record this soon. It's not their fault, but I just feel sorry for the kids who have to pay money for it.
KRIST: We got four stars in USA Today.
DAVE: Hey, but you know Jesus Lizard is playing.
PAT: Where's Kennedy, doesn't she usually do this?
No, she doesn't do this.
DAVE: Okay, bye!
Thanks a lot.
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