LiveNIRVANA.com > Interview Archive > 1990 > January 6, 1990 - Seattle, WA, US

LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE:
January 6, 1990 - Seattle, WA, US

Interviewer(s)

  • Matt Emery

Interviewee(s)

  • Kurt Cobain
  • Krist Novoselic
  • Chad Channing

Sources:

Medium Publisher Date of Issue Title Transcript
Video KIRO 7 TBC Air Waves Yes
Video HBO Documentary Films/Universal Pictures 01/24/2015 Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck Yes

Transcript:

Matt Emery: What is Nirvana? What and who is Nirvana?

Krist Novoselic: Nirvana's three guys from Puget Sound area: Olympia, Bainbridge Island and Tacoma. Nirvana is a seven letter word and Nirvana is a, is a concept.

ME: Concept. Describe the concept in what you do?

KN: In what we do?… We play rock-and-roll music without inhibition and without distraction, just like pure stuff. That's a heavy question. It's rock-and-roll, brother.

ME: What makes you want to be Nirvana?

KN: What makes us want to be Nirvana?… We're Nirvana because we're not Aerosmith or something or The Vegetables or, we're Nirvana because that's the name of our band. What makes me want to be Nirvana is I like my band a lot. I do. I really do.

ME: Right now Seattle is a real well-known music scene… Why is it such a hot scene right now?

KN: Because there's a lot of good bands coming out of Seattle. There's Mudhoney, there's Tad, there's Soundgarden. There's so many bands out there; it's really special and it's odd. It's just all these bands in the right place, the right time.

ME: What was your European tour like?

KN: It was crazy. It was six weeks of driving around in a crammed van, drinking beer. We were in Berlin the day after the wall went down and we didn't even see the wall. That shows all the sights we saw there. We didn't see anything. We saw the Eiffel Tower from five miles away, and I'm lucky I saw it too. I said look, there's the Eiffel Tower over there and we got all excited.

ME: How were you received in Europe?

KN: How were we received?

ME: Yeah.

KN: Very well. In England we were received, it was dynamite. It was wild. In Holland everybody was way laid back and kind of out of it. In Germany it was good. Austria was awesome. Italy was way insane, and Switzerland was good. We were received very well. I was surprised. People, like, gave the underground more credibility there. There's not a big gap between like mainstream and underground. They respect the bands more and they don't, they're not, what's the word? They don't discriminate against, it doesn't matter if you're an underground band or aboveground band or a sea-level band or a seaweed band or something.

ME: What was it like playing Berlin right after the wall came down?

KN: Well, there was a bunch of people in acid-washed jeans flooding the stores in their little putt-putt cars with lawnmower engines. They have lawnmower engines. They're two-stroke motors, they're air cooled and it was a good show. It was a wild show, but it was mostly West Berliners because those poor Eastern people are, been isolated for so long they don't even have a clue. They like Bon Jovi and stuff like that. So, I think it's going to be a few years before they catch on. Poor people, but now the world, the barriers are coming down and the world's going to be a free place. It's going to be a big park where children are going to chase balloons and doves are going to fly everywhere. It's going to be great.

ME: It's lovely. How did you become involved with the Sub Pop label?

KN: Just through John and [inaudible words] got ahold of our demo tape and said, gee, I like your demo tape and then…

KN: So, we got involved with the Sub Pop label as we made a demo tape in Reciprocal Studios. By some luck, our guardian angel pointed us in the direction of Reciprocal Studios and Jack Endino who knows Jonathan Poneman. Jack Endino turned Jonathan Poneman onto our tape, and he thought it was really groovy and he gave us a call. Then we made a single and then we made a record and now this, we're here today. Rock and roll. The rock and roll lifestyle of today.

ME: What is your musical background?

KN: Well, I was force fed accordion lessons when I was seven years old all the way until I was about ten and I hated it. Then I listened to records. Well, I used to play basketball because I'm six foot, seven tall, I'm really tall. Then I bought Kiss Alive and it transformed my life. Then I picked up a guitar in a second-hand store and played six string for about four years in my bedroom, just clanging away. And then I met Kurt Cobain in Aberdeen, and I played bass and I borrowed all the equipment. We had junky equipment and we lived in this rat-hole house, and we just started jamming. We made that video, we made that tape, demo tape, and we made a video tape once too, and that's where we are today, here.

ME: What do your parents think of your music?

KN: Gee, well, my dad told me you should turn in those guitars for shovels, and I never listened to him. My mom, she likes Julio Iglesias, so she doesn't, it's just a bunch of noise to them. They don't care, you know? They'd much rather have it that I was working at Boeings [sic] putting nuts on bolts and stuff like that and had a big console TV and a brand-new Camaro or something.

ME: What's the future of Nirvana?

KN: Gee, the future's an abstract concept. I only live for now and today. You can tell by my lifestyle. What's the future? I don't know. Put out good songs. That's all we care about, really. If we think the songs are good, we'll be happy. That's all. Hopefully the creative angel will smile upon us and we'll have good songs and that's all there is to it.

ME: What advice would you give to someone that's starting out or wants to have a musical career?

KN: Take accordion lessons. Buy tap dance shoes. Act like Sammy Davis, Jr., [makes sound] with his mouth like this. I love you, man, I love you. Don't watch MTV. Don't do anything with MTV. Don't watch TV at all. What should I do? Practice a lot and don't quit. You just got to keep with it. You got to go. More advice? Just as long as you're happy, do whatever you want to do… do what thou whilst, brother. That's my motto. Live and let live.

ME: Thanks a lot.

KN: Thank you.

ME: Hi.

Kurt Cobain: Hi.

ME: What and who is Nirvana?

KC: What and who is Nirvana? Nirvana's a three-piece underground alternative grunge rock band from Seattle, Washington, or the outskirts of Seattle, Washington and that's about it. I mean, that's what we are.

ME: What exactly is the grunge sound?

KC: Hmm, I don't know. I guess that's been classified as a grunge sound because we play electric guitars with distortion. That's about it.

ME: How would you, how would you describe the music that you play and the things you do?

KC: How do we describe what?

ME: How would you describe the music you play and the things you do.

KC: Well, the things we do is just, we play a very powerful high-energy type of rock and roll. We move around on stage a lot, and just scream with an abandon, I guess.

ME: Right now … oh go ahead, sorry

KC: Nevermind.

ME: Seattle's a real well-known music scene. Why is it so hot right now?

KC: I think because there happens to be a lot of good bands coming out of Seattle right now. A lot of good bands and it's just by chance, I guess. It's luck. I don't know. It's…

ME: How'd you like Europe? [inaudible words]

KC: I liked Europe. Yeah. I like Europe. It was a lot of good times.

ME: What were the crowds like? How were you received there?

KC: Pretty much the same way we are around here. When we're in the United States we get about the same type of response. People really like us, I think.

ME: What was it like playing right after the wall came down in Berlin?

KC: We didn't get to see very much, actually. We were, we were delayed for about four more hours because there were so many people coming from East Berlin into West Germany. So it was, we pretty much just experienced it on the highway and that's it. We didn't get to see the wall. We didn't get to see anything but the venue that night when we played. But there was a lot of good feeling in the air, a lot of good atmosphere.

ME: How did you get involved with the Sub Pop label?

KC: We recorded a demo in Reciprocal and Jack Endino, the producer that does mostly all Sub Pop stuff, he gave the tape to Jonathan and Bruce, the head guys at Sub Pop, and they called us up and we started negotiating.

ME: What's your musical background?

KC: Hard rock, punk rock, new wave, country. It doesn't matter. We like everything, so that's pretty much what we try to do is have a lot of diversity in our music.

ME: What are some of your influences?

KC: Probably The Stooges, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Velvet Underground. Stuff like that. The Beatles, especially. Yeah, they're definitely my biggest influence.

ME: What's the future of Nirvana?

KC: The future of Nirvana? I don't know. Hopefully try to write some more good songs. That's all we care about is writing good music. If we get popular or not, it doesn't matter. The music's more important.

ME: What kind of advice would you give to people that are starting out or want to have a musical career?

KC: Just keep practicing and don't give up. Just never give up. Play it as often as you can and be really dedicated and try to write good music. Don't worry about the material ethics that go with music. It doesn't matter what you look like or anything. It doesn't matter what your product looks like, it's what it, what it sounds like. I think music's a lot more important than video.

ME: What and who is Nirvana?

Chad Channing: What and who is Nirvana? Well, Nirvana are three people. Me and two friends, Kurt and Krist. Nirvana, well, I can give you the meaning. It's kind of like, it's like the freedom from, like, all pain and desire, you know? Just a perfect place between peace and your mind, I guess.

ME: How would you describe your music?

CC: Well, I would describe it more like a heavy pop. It's like a lot more of what we're writing has a more pop sound, but we still want to maintain the heaviness. So, I would say heavy pop.

ME: What makes you want to be Nirvana?

CC: What makes me; the singing actually. I like the singing. I like, that's what I do a lot when I play. I just listen to the singing. I enjoy that a lot.

ME: Right now Seattle is a real well known music scene, but why is it so hot right now?

CC: Gee, sort of weird. I don't know. I think it's mainly a lot of, a lot of eyes are focused on Seattle right now it seems. So, it's like a lot of bands at the time just started getting a lot of recognition. Also, I guess, it helps to say that the bands are good, that are just happen to be coming around here. I think they just, that just seems to be appealing to people right now.

ME: You just got finished with your European tour. What was that like?

CC: Lots of bread and bologna spread. I had a good time there, met a lot of nice people. We were received pretty well. It was alright.

ME: Great. How are the crowds different there than here?

CC: You can't understand anything they say. They're really active. They're really into it. It's kind of funny, I've noticed, like, in some places, like, they were still really into, like, the early hardcore as far as, like, punk rock goes too. So there's like the crowds were really active, jumping about and stuff.

ME: What was it like playing in Berlin just right after the wall came down?

CC: Crowded. There were lots and lots of people there. I really enjoyed that a lot. It was a really good show.

ME: How did you first get involved with the Sub Pop label?

CC: Well, I kind of got involved along with, like, Kurt and Krist because they'd, like, they had gotten a call from Bruce because of a demo tape they did, which the drummer for the Melvins drummed on that demo tape. So they already, like, had gotten together with Sub Pop and then I became the drummer when they already had a relationship with Sub Pop. So, I just kind of popped in there with Sub Pop.

ME: How long have you been playing the drums?

CC: Gee, six, maybe seven years. Something like that.

ME: What are some of your favorites?

CC: I really like the Young Marble Giants a lot. I like Shonen Knife a lot. Let's see, you mean, like, drummers?

ME: Yeah. That'd be good.

CC: Okay. Anything. Okay. Gee, I like Mitch Mitchell a lot. That's probably been said a million times, but I really do like him a lot. He's good. The other guy I like is the drummer for X, but I can't think of his name. I think it's, like, Bone or something like that.

ME: How about just bands? What other bands do you like?

CC: Well, let's see, I mentioned Shonen Knife. I really like them. The Vaselines, of course. They don't exist anymore and that's too bad. The Young Marble Giants, as I said before, are really good. I like really old DYS. That's good stuff.

ME: What is the future of Nirvana?

CC: All I can say is right now it's just, some of the changes that we're going through right now is more towards, like, love songs as I'd said earlier, and I think right now we're just going to continue going as far as we can. Make albums and stuff. Tour when we can. Try to make people happy with our music. As far as anything further than that goes, it's hard to say. Just see; kind of play it by ear.

ME: What exactly is the grunge sound?

CC: The grunge sound. Really heavy drums, a really distorted guitar and a good, thumping base. I guess that would describe grunge.

ME: What advice would you give to somebody starting out that wants to pursue a musical career?

CC: I would have to say that whoever they got together with, as far as making a band with another person, it'd be best if it was someone that you've known for a long time. That's the best way to start out, I think. With the people you're dealing with instead of just answering an ad, going ahead, checking it out, saying well this sounded really good, for the first time I'll go for it. Because there's a lot more, of course, than just music. There's the relationship in itself, which has got to work, which I think sometimes is the downfall of a lot of bands, because they just don't get together very well.

ME: How's the relationship in your band?

CC: I think it's good. I've only known Kurt and Krist for two years, but they're, I don't know, they really go well with me for some reason. I'm kind of like in-between them in a way. Krist is like, I don't know, he's kind of like a really soft going, but emotional type of person that is kind of up and down all the time and Kurt's like a little bit above that. I'm sort of in between. Kind of works out.

ME: Great. Thanks a lot.

CC: Yeah. You bet. Nice to meet you.

© Matt Emery, 1990

Transcript:

Unknown: Hey, man. Take it away, buddy. Don't worry about me. I know this is kinda a strange angle, but it'll work.

[CUT]

Krist Novoselic: That's a big camera, man.

[CUT]

Matt Emery: How would you describe the music you play and the things you do.

Kurt Cobain: Well, the things we do is just, we play a very powerful high-energy type of rock and roll. We move around on stage a lot, and just scream with an abandon, I guess.

[CUT]

Matt Emery: What makes you want to be Nirvana?

Krist Novoselic: What makes us want to be Nirvana?… We're Nirvana because we're not Aerosmith or something or The Vegetables or, we're Nirvana because that's the name of our band. What makes me want to be Nirvana is I like my band a lot. I do. I really do.

[CUT]

Matt Emery: What's the future of Nirvana?

Kurt Cobain: The future of Nirvana? I don't know. Hopefully try to write some more good songs. That's all we care about is writing good music. If we get popular or not, it doesn't matter. The music's more important.