the story from the experts: the band themselves
interviews | liner notes | etc  
Nevermind- It's an Interview
conducted by Kurt St. Thomas of WFNX, Boston, 1992
released as a promotional interview cd that year
part two of three
ST. THOMAS: With Nirvana's line up now set, Kurt, Krist and Dave began rehearsing.

DAVE: "We'd been, um, practicing in this really weird practice space. This man built a studio in his, in this like, barn, in is backyard but it wasn't a barn, it was this thing that had a studio in it, and then upstairs his brother lived up there, and he was in this really bad, like, Howard Johnson's lounge band. Everything was carpeted with this like, brown shag carpet, and it even had stage lights in there, and they had a massive PA, that he just did not know how to use, and he'd turn it on, and "SHHHHHHHHH" there's just this huge hiss ..and we were practicing a lot, but we were writing a lot of material, we'd write them, they were great for like 2 weeks, "Oh my God, this is the best song ever" and we'd forget them, and so then we decided "OK, we'll start putting them on cassette" and so we started recording them onto these boom box things, and we'd lose the cassette's and y'know, we wrote so much material, that we just like, forgot about and every once in awhile we'll just like, pull one out, and turn it around."

ST. THOMAS: While the band was writing and rehearsing, the major labels started taking interest.

KRIST: "They were wineing and dining us, and there were some labels that we were impressed by, but uh, we thought ,uh, DGC would be the best for us (Was one of the main reasons because of Sonic Youth?) Yeah, we knew Sonic Youth were happy on there, and we've always loved and respected Sonic Youth, so and there's like all these rumours, that we got like, a million dollars, or 700, it was actually, even in Spin Magazine it was printed that, that we got $750, 000, and we didn't even get a quarter of that. What we did, was instead of going for the big dough we went for the strong contract (Which enables you, like, more freedom..?)..more freedom, uh, more percentage points on the record, and there's a lot of clauses in there that are in our favour. Now if our record would've bombed, we woulda kicked ourselves in the butt and said "Maaan, we shoulda took the cash!". But were not in it for the money, we were in it for y'know, let's put out a record and let's do this thing right!"

KURT: "I really don't know what the definition of selling out is anymore, I guess I really don't care. We haven't compromised, our record label let's us do whatever we want we think on the same level, there's nothing that we've done, that could be considered a sell out at all, at least not in my eyes. A lot of people were calling us sell out..they forget that y'know, the Ramones, and the Sex Pistols were on major labels, so was the Clash, and they all, all those bands were trying to become big stars they didn't even deny it.. God, the Ramones even had a movie out after them, y'know, to help support them."

KRIST: "Y'know I think that if you make money, and you start voting republican, because you'll get tax breaks, and they're the party of the rich, I mean - that's sold out."

ST. THOMAS: In early 1991 Nirvana entered the studio with producer Butch Vig.

KRIST: "Yeah, we worked with him in the Springtime, when we, when we did that demo, that I mentioned earlier. He was just easy to work with, laidback, and um, really attentive to what's going on. He works hard, but he doesn't work the band hard."

DAVE: "It was about time that the band recorded something, finally, it had been so long.."

KURT: "It was called Sound City, and the board and the room were really old, the board was from the early 70's"

KRIST: "All the dinosaurs have recorded there, uh, Fleetwood Mac, uh, Cheap Trick"

KURT: "There's nothing more disgusting, than the late 80's or early 90's slick sound, y'know, you just can't escape it, no matter how retro and old you try to be, or what kind of old equipment you use, you still can't help but sound new."

KRIST: "We got a warm sound outta that place"

DAVE: "It'd been two years since Bleach, it'd been awhile, since the band had gone in and recorded a full LP, so it was more of like, "wow, ok, we're in the studio, let's just get this done! Let's just do it!"

KRIST: "We made the record we wanted to make, we didn't have any, we didn't wanna make the number one record, we didn't want to make some big hit record, it's, y'know that's, it woulda been the same record if it was on Sub Pop."

ST. THOMAS: Kurt and Dave talk about writing songs...

KURT: "It's usually done on an acoustic guitar, sitting around in my underwear, just picking out riffs, pieces of songs."

DAVE: "Maybe Kurt'll come in with a melody, a guitar riff, and um, show it to us."

KURT: "We go to practice, and then we play the song over, and over again.."

DAVE: "We just jam! There's no real formula."

KURT: "Krist and Dave have a big part in deciding on how long a song should be, and how many parts it should have, so, I don't like to be considered as the whole song writer, but I do come up with the basis of it. I come up with the singing style during practice and I write the lyrics usually minutes before we record."

(Referring to "Something In The Way")

KURT: "That song really wasn't even written until a week before we went into the studio. And uh, I knew I wanted cello on it, but after all the music was recorded for it, we'd kinda forgotten about putting a cello on it, and we had one more day in the studio, and we decided "Oh, geez, we should try to hire a cellist" y'know, and put something in, and we were at a party, and we were asking some of our friends if they had any friends who play cello, and it just so happened that one of our best friends in LA, plays cello, so, took him into the studio on the last day and said "here, play something", and he came up with something right away, it just fell like dominoes, it was really easy."

(Referring to "Come As You Are")

KURT: "The lines in the song are really contradictory, y'know, one after another, they're kind of a rebuttal, to each line, and they're just kinda confusing I guess. It's just about people, and uh, what they're expected to act like."

KURT: "Just because I say "I" in a song doesn't necessarily mean it's me. A lot of people have a problem with that. It's just the way I write usually, take on someone else's personality or character. I'd rather just use someone else's example, because I dunno, my life is kinda boring, and so y'know, I just take stories from things I've read, and off the television, and in stories I've heard, maybe even some friends."

(Referring to "In Bloom")

KURT: "Obviously I don't like rednecks, I don't like macho men. I mean, I don't like abusive people, and I guess that's what that song is about, it's an attack on them."

(Referring to "Smells Like Teen Spirit")

KURT: "This friend of mine and I were goofing around my house one night, and we were kinda drunk, and we were writing graffiti all over the walls of my house, and she wrote "Kurt smells like teen spirit". And earlier on, we were kinda having this discussion on revolution, and teen revolution and stuff like that, and I took that as a compliment, I thought that she was saying that I was a person who, who could inspire. I just thought that was a nice little title. And it turns out she just meant that I smelt like the deodorant, I didn't even know that deodorant existed, until after the song was written."

DAVE: "My father said this to me - "I know why you guys've sold so many records..the video shows a buncha kids trashing a gymnasium!" and I mean ..that sorta works like uh, "Nirvana! Spokesmen of the lost generation! They're telling you to go out and destroy your local gymnasium!" I don't really, I don't see it that way, I mean, like, I don't want to hold a responsibility of being a spokesman for anything! I can barely hold my own! I guess it's flattering, and I guess it's great that it acts like sorta, gives people a feeling of sorta like breaking out, and telling um, anyone and anything just to fuck off!"
( part one | part two | part three )

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