LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE November 28, 1991 - Sheffield, UK

Interviewer(s)
Juan Gelas
Interviewee(s)
Kurt Cobain
Krist Novoselic
Dave Grohl
Publisher Title Transcript
BBC2 Rapido Yes
M6 Metal Express Yes
Ina.fr TBC Yes

Cobain: Excited, 'cause it's one of our favorite television shows whenever we come into…

Grohl: Rapido!

Cobain: …into the UK.

Novoselic: It's just… it's part of the jet-lag ordeal.

Cobain: Yeah. It always seems to be on the night that we get into town.

Grohl: And you can't sleep and it's pretty much the only thing worth watching, so…

Novoselic: And y'know, we're, like, watching international snooker…

Cobain: [inaudible] snooker.

Novoselic: …and Rapido comes on and we jump up and down, "Yeah, Rapido, Rapido!"

Cobain: The most common word that comes up in every definition that I've read has been "Freedom." So, we kinda like to think of our music as musical freedom, in a way… not being tied to a specific genre, or a specific sound.

Cobain: Most of the lyrics are just, like, contradictions. I'll write a few sincere lines and then I'll have to make fun of it [inaudible]. I don't like to make things too obvious, because if it is too obvious it gets really stale. Things shouldn't be in people's faces 100% all the time. We don't mean to be really cryptic or, y'know, mysterious, but I just think that lyrics that are different and kinda weird and spacey paint a nice picture, y'know? It's the way I like art.

Novoselic: I think every band that's kind of…

Grohl: It just goes down the line…

Novoselic: Has cracked it a little bit… cracked the door open. Whether it's Sonic Youth…

Grohl: Yeah, Sonic Youth.

Novoselic: …Jane's Addiction, they did it.

Cobain: I've always thought of, errr… I've always thought of R.E.M. as a commercial band in the first place. They just happen to be a good, passionate commercial band. And there have always been good, passionate bands in rock'n'roll throughout the history, it's just up to fans and people involved in the music industry to make sure that it doesn't get as stale and as bad as it has in the last 10 years.

Novoselic: What we wanna do is, like, spread the gospel now. We wanna take advantage of that, y'know… we're getting so much attention right now because of, like, our chart position or whatever. Ummm, we wanna expose these bands to people, say that this is very valid music, it's the only music that's happening right now, rock-wise. Ummm, and check 'em out 'cause there's a lot there.

© Rapido TV, 1992

Cobain: I was intimidated when I first started playing guitar, I was intimidated by really professional musicians, like heavy metal musicians who are very anal and technical and promoted the fact that they can play good. That made me not ever think of playing rock 'n' roll realistically, or ever making a career out of it, or actually going for it and doing it… but then I heard punk-rock and I realised that these people are a lot like me, they're just as sloppy and as bad musicians, but they still have passion and energy.

Grohl: In America there's colleges devoted to, like, the "Guitar Institute of Technology" or the "Percussion Institute of Technology," and they go and they teach you how to, like, make those moves onstage and how to look and what to wear; they teach you how to "make it"…

Novoselic: There are commercials: "Get a career in the music industry… [inaudible] sound engineering" and they show these total goofballs, twirling these knobs and stuff… it's so annoying.

Novoselic: Punk was very simple, there was a lot of energy, the first real punk… there was a lot of melody too. It was a reaction to stuffiness and progressive jazz and rock 'n' roll old farts playing 20-minute songs. Like what rock 'n' roll was… it was like a 3-minute song and it just really got you going, like "Go, man! Go! I'm looking for kicks!"

Novoselic: Actually, these people who are trying to make money, they play it really safe and they take a demographic survey, so they survey all these papal… papal? The Papal hierarchy in the Vatican… I mean, they survey all these people and say, "What do you like? What do you want to see?" And they've been fed garbage so that's all they know, so they say, "We want more garbage!" So they give them the garbage, and they survey them again, and there's all this garbage… Next thing you know, you have this over-full landfill full of diapers and styrofoam! [laughs] And that's mainstream culture: a soiled Pampers diaper in a Big Mac container!

Novoselic: What we wanna do is, like, spread the gospel now. We wanna take advantage of that, y'know… we're getting so much attention right now because of, like, our chart position or whatever. Ummm, we wanna expose these bands to people, say that this is very valid music, it's the only music that's happening right now, rock-wise. Ummm, and check 'em out 'cause there's a lot there. If you like what we did, check out where we've come from and it's guaranteed that you're gonna find something you like. The whole alternative underground scene is diverse and there's something for everybody there; there's a lot of ideas, a lot of originality and total sincerity.

© Rapido TV, 1992

Rapido: Right, then. The first thing… I heard that you were surprised when you heard that Rapido wanted to speak to you, is that true?

Cobain: Surprised? Excited, 'cause it's one of our favorite television shows whenever we come into…

Grohl: Rapido!

Cobain: …into the UK.

Rapido: That's good to hear.

Novoselic: It's just… it's part of the jet-lag ordeal.

Cobain: Yeah. It always seems to be on the night that we get into town.

Grohl: And you can't sleep and it's pretty much the only thing worth watching, so…

Novoselic: And y'know, we're, like, watching international snooker…

Cobain: [inaudible] snooker.

Novoselic: …and Rapido comes on and we jump up and down, "Yeah, Rapido, Rapido!"

Rapido: Is there anything like that - that could compare in America - that talks about music?

Novoselic: The Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, ummm, MTV.

Cobain: There's nothing that has the variety of Rapido… and the quality.

Rapido: Alright, so… the first reason I wanted to film you in a hotel room is 'cause that's your home for most of the year, well, a lot of the time this is your home, yeah?

Grohl: Mmmmm hmmmm [laughs].

Cobain: [Nodding] Yeah.

Rapido: That's the reason why I wanted to be here really.

Cobain: Well then, I think I'll just grab a pillow and go to sleep.

Grohl: Goodnight!

Cobain: Night.

Novoselic: Goodnight, Kurt.

Rapido: Now, things are going [laughs]… yeah, things are going real, real quick, isn't it? That's as quick as you can get, isn't it?

Grohl: Well, yeah. I mean, the record's only been out for what - 2 months or something?

Novoselic: Something like that, yeah.

Grohl: I dunno, it's just a blur.

Cobain: I think it's been about 3 months now.

Grohl: Has it really?

Novoselic: September 24.

Rapido: Yeah, that's right.

Grohl: October, November.

Novoselic: 2 months.

Rapido: Just 2 months.

Cobain: Oh well…

Novoselic: [in a cartoonish voice] Your perception of time and reality is obviously distorted.

Rapido: 'Cause for an album… an album to go… not a first album… for an album to go in the Billboard chart - the top chart - at number 4, that's really quick…

Grohl: I've never paid attention to charts before, y'know? I mean, the number is just a bunch of statistics, really.

Novoselic: I wanna have my chart done, my astrological chart, so we can… like, our next release or my personal life… I'll go… like, my chart says I'm a Taurus and Saturn is in Sagittarius… and blue diamonds and… [laughs] green clover.

Cobain: [laughs] Orange stars…

Novoselic: Orange stars…

Cobain: [in a cartoonish voice] And blue diamonds.

Novoselic: And blue diamonds.

Rapido: I'm sure that, even if you don't look at the numbers, somebody else is looking for you at the numbers. I'm sure, like… I mean, here Rapido talks to you, a lot of people are talking to you, or want to talk to you - when you go back in America it's gonna be the same. Like, a number 4 album is a very big album and then people are gonna want to talk to you and have your opinion about everything. Is that already happening?

Novoselic: Yeah, we have our opinions, we're a bunch of opinionated jerks! Let me tell you somethin'…

Cobain: Jerky!

Novoselic: Jerky.

Rapido: Is it difficult to have an opinion about everything when you're asked?

Novoselic: It's difficult to have an opinion about everything, because I don't know anything about anything! Well, then you give your opinion to somebody and it's just your opinion… I mean, it's not gospel or anything! All opinions are open to dialogue in forum.

Rapido: So do you call that pressure already? Being… shooting to the top like that?

Grohl: Pressure? I don't think so…

Novoselic: We don't really pay enough attention…

Grohl: I mean, it's not like any… we don't feel responsible to go out and try twice as hard, y'know?

Novoselic: Yeah.

Grohl: I mean, it just happened. We've been doing what we're doing and if it goes up to number -12 on the chart or whatever…

Novoselic: [laughs] Past number 1

Grohl: Past number 1 to -12… it's no big deal, really.

Rapido: Kurt, are you bored with the conversation about exposure and pressure?

Cobain: No, I'm sick… I'm sick.

Rapido: Have you caught the English Flu or something?

Novoselic: [sings] Touch Me, I'm Sick! You can fry and egg on that forehead!

Grohl: You can fry a head on that egg, Ezra… you ain't got a forehead, you gotta egg-head!

Novoselic: [laughs] A magic 8 ball head, you turn it upside-down… that's how we plan our destiny, with a magic 8 ball. Y'know, you turn it upside-down and it says, "Try again!"

Grohl: It comes out and says, "Yes!"

Novoselic: [laughs] "Yes!"

Grohl: "No!"

Novoselic: "Go die!"

Rapido: Do you think when you go back to the States you… when are you gonna go back to America?

Grohl: In 2 weeks.

Novoselic: December 15th.

Rapido: Uh huh.

Grohl: Yay.

Cobain: Then we go on tour for another 5 days, and then we have a month off and we go to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Japan…

Grohl: Hawa-E!

Cobain: …South-East Asia and then we're home for a little while.

Rapido: It's crazy, 'cause like in France - for example, where the programme comes from, where I come from - nobody was really talking about you before and suddenly it's like, "Album Of The Year," y'know? Like, "Get them on TV!" It's like all the magazines want a piece of the action… that's why I was saying, I asked the question, it goes really quick…

Novoselic: It's very "Bandwagonesque," if I may plug another band that I totally love.

Rapido: When you've played European countries - I don't know if you talk to people, if you watch their reactions or whatever - what has been the main difference between your American crowd and the European crowd?

Novoselic: Probably the diets of the people…

Grohl: I dunno, I've sort of found that the language is sort of different… [laughs]

Novoselic: [laughs] I mean, it's all… people have the same reactions, you know what I mean? I guess we all came from a common ancestor, like…

Grohl: Adam and Eve!

Novoselic: Adam and Eve, right - Creationists: Adam and Eve, Evolutionists: humanoid-type creatures that came out of Africa and populated the Earth and adapted to other climates… But I think there's a million similarities, as there are dissimilarities, and I think people's reaction to music is a very big similarity. Whether it be on the continent, the UK, or the US. In the West, you know… if you go to the East, if you go to Cambodia or something, they wouldn't know what to think of you, 'cause they haven't been exposed. But in the West, rock 'n' roll has been a major cultural thing for the last 30 years, so… it's pretty much the same reaction.

Rapido: Is it also because your music seems to be based on instinct and people can share that?

Novoselic: Sure.

Cobain: It wouldn't matter if we were speaking in tongues.

Novoselic: Yeah, right on.

Cobain: It's a universal language, man.

Novoselic: It's a universal language. Those are like worn out cliches, y'know? "Rock 'n' Roll is a universal language, brother!" But to some extent that's true! You get a lot of people in the same room, you get a good groove happening, and people really react… it's a great thing!

Rapido: It's something else… I dunno, you tell me how it is in America, but in England or in France it's quite a recent thing that it's cool to like rock again… a lot of people kinda walked out on rock for a long time.

Novoselic: Oh boy, and they wore black clothes and y'know … if that's the case, then… music isn't a fashion accessory. To a lot of people it is, I know, but to us it isn't… "I'm into industrial dance now" So what do they do? Do they go to the pawn shop and sell all their CDs? [laughs] Not records, but CDs, "'Because records are out." [laughs]

Rapido: Maybe it's also 'cause guys like you maybe give quite a good name to rock?

Novoselic: Hmmm. If rock 'n' roll deserves a good name? It does, it does…

Rapido: And I think probably quite a lot…

Novoselic: You know, Bon Jovi gives love a bad name.

Cobain: [laughs]

Grohl: God gave rock 'n' roll to you.

Novoselic: God gave rock 'n' roll to you and you've got a gift, it's called rock 'n' roll! Rock 'n' roll has paid for a lot of facelifts and hair transplants.

Cobain: If there's one thing that I've learned about rock 'n' roll by being in this business for 5 or 6 years, it would be to use your illusion…

Novoselic: 1 and 2, it depends what the illusion is - life is full of illusions! "And here's my lovely wife!"

Cobain: It's magic!

Novoselic: It's magic!

Cobain: [in a cartoonish voice] Magic.

Novoselic: I mean… rock 'n' roll is good, I have to admit it! It's got me through some rough times…

Grohl: The only thing rock 'n' roll's ever given me is a hearing impairment!

Cobain: Did you hear the story that your wife Shelli said today about…

Grohl: About the girl? That little girl?

Novoselic: Oh! The girl. She's a total… typical girl…

Grohl: Check this out…

Rapido: What's the story?

Cobain: It's great! This 13 year old cousin of Shelli's had for a few… the past couple of years has had her walls covered in New Kids On The Block posters…

Novoselic: Dolls…

Cobain: She heard our album… and she had dolls, everything… and she heard our album, Nevermind, and she tore all her posters down and burned her dolls… she set them on fire!

Novoselic: Stacy's like a little brat, like, "Heee"… now it's like, "I hate New Kids On The Block!" She's a terror, she's a terror!

Cobain: She's smokin' cigarettes, she's got a tattoo…

Grohl: [laughs]

Novoselic: Yeah, that's right, she just takes the car now, y'know? And she's not even old enough to drive!

All: [laughs]

Novoselic: She's just like, "Vrooom!" zipping up and down….

Grohl: "Woohoo!"

Cobain: Driving up and down, drunk! Hurtin' people!

Novoselic: This cop pulled her over, she went "Uugh" smacked… knocked him out!

Grohl: She's only 13!

Novoselic: She's only 13, that's right…

Rapido: Is "Nevermind" the attitude of a lot of people in the US, to start with?

Novoselic: Sure, sure…

Rapido: I'm talking about the word here, y'know, like…

Novoselic: Yeah it is, it is. It's too bad it's that way. People, they have to…

Cobain: Use their illusion.

Novoselic: They make priorities, y'know? And a lot of times, the priority is a new car in the driveway, or whatever material objects you have… and it's all a bunch of junk, 'cause you can…

Cobain: Trinkets and baubles.

Novoselic: Trinkets, yeah. Look at this shiny stone, y'know? Why is this any more…

Cobain: That's a Ming vase to me! I need it…

Novoselic: [laughs] I know! This could be… I mean, Elizabeth Taylor should wear that on her finger! [laughs] What's the difference?

Rapido: Without making any sweeping statements or generalisations, people of your age, you're seeing them changing? 'Cause I don't know the youth of America…

Novoselic: That's a good record, by the way.

Cobain: Kids are a lot smarter. I'm totally convinced…

Grohl: Kids are smarter?!

Cobain: The average 18 year old is a lot smarter than they were when I was 18 years old.

Grohl: You think so?

Cobain: I'm convinced.

Rapido: In what way? What kind of smartness?

Cobain: They're more aware, they're more jaded and cynical… they're more aware of injustice. They've learned from their parents' mistakes.

Novoselic: American youth have had it all, on a silver plater! They've been eating ice-cream out of a bowl this big!

Grohl: But now that bowl is filled with crack!

Cobain: [laughs] Now there's no such thing as Farrell's … Shakey's….

Grohl: It's become a crack house!

Novoselic: Yeah, Farrell's is gone… dippy waiters and waitresses to sing you Happy Birthday on cue.

Grohl: Did you ever have one of those Zoos? A Zoo?

Novoselic: Oh, Yeah!

Grohl: It was like 32 different kinds of ice-cream, or 16 or something…

Cobain: Oh, I've thought of another idea for the video: sea monkeys!

Grohl: Hey… wow.

Cobain: Floating around in the video… wouldn't that be good?!

Rapido: It's funny when you talk about cynicism because on this side of the water being a cynic is not a particularly good thing… it's the opposite.

Cobain: No, it's not. It's a fine defense mechanism. And that doesn't necessarily mean that people are avoiding necessary topics and things that really matter. It just means that they're aware of things…

Novoselic: How many times do people have to learn the same lesson, y'know?

Grohl: Well, not everything should be common sense anyway…

Novoselic: Instead of reactionary-ism and Nationalism… that stuff's just easy.

Rapido: There's one band I want to talk about - do you think a band like R.E.M. opened up the doors, the commercial doors, for a band like you to come in and have commercial success?

Novoselic: A little bit. I think every band that's kind of…

Grohl: It just goes down the line…

Novoselic: Has cracked it a little bit… cracked the door open. Whether it's Sonic Youth…

Grohl: Yeah, Sonic Youth.

Novoselic: …Jane's Addiction, they did it.

Cobain: I've always thought of, errr… I've always thought of R.E.M. as a commercial band in the first place. They just happen to be a good, passionate commercial band. And there have always been good, passionate bands in rock 'n' roll throughout the history, it's just up to fans and people involved in the music industry to make sure that it doesn't get as stale and as bad as it has within the last 10 years, especially in the Reagan era.

Novoselic: Yeah.

Grohl: Did I roll that too tight?

Rapido: [laughs] It looks like it.

Grohl: I think I did…

Cobain: Yeah, it's too tight.

Rapido: I mean, from the… I don't know if the word is right, but from the tradition of bands, the affiliation of bands - you talk about the Youth, Hüsker Dü and people like that - you're the first one to put the doors open.

Novoselic: Yeah, it seems like the mainstream is very consistent… consistent in, like, blandness! Being bland, like, bland boring TV shows, bland boring bands, bland boring blockbuster movies!

Cobain: [laughs] Bland, bland, bland, bland…

Novoselic: It's all very consistent, y'know?

Grohl: When it comes to the mainstream and commercialism, it's sort of like no-one's willing to take a chance because it's a risk of money. That's why you've had the same bunch of crap on MTV for the past 6 years or whatever…

Novoselic: That's right.

Grohl: I mean, it just come down to money, and people aren't willing… "It's not a feasible business move," y'know?

Novoselic: See, it's a vicious circle. Actually, these people who are trying to make money, they play it really safe and they take a demographic survey, so they survey all these papal… papal? The Papal hierarchy in the Vatican… I mean, they survey all these people and say, "What do you like? What do you want to see?" And these people have been fed garbage and it's all they know, so they say, "We want more garbage!" So they give them the garbage, and they survey them again, and there's all this garbage… Next thing you know, you have this over-full landfill full of diapers and styrofoam! [laughs] And that's mainstream culture: a soiled Pampers diaper in a Big Mac container!

Cobain: [laughs]

Rapido: You talk about Hollywood, for example, it costs so much to make a movie and it's a risk… you're talking about commercial risk… what they do now, they've been doing it for a few years, is that they buy successful French movies of the '50s and '40s - they were blockbusters because they were real…

Cobain: Do they colorise them?

Rapido: No, they re-shoot them!

Cobain: Oh, the re-shoot them…

Rapido: Like Three Men and a Baby… but that's just the beginning… they're going out and buying…

Cobain: Yeah, that's exactly why there's so many new popular bands doing covers of songs, even from 5 years ago. There's one band we played with on Top Of The Pops last night who were doing a cover of a Christopher Cross song! Yikes!

Novoselic: Yikes. Crikey. Yeah.

Grohl: What a [inaudible]

Novoselic: I mean, how many times do you have to see the same I Love Lucy plot in a sitcom, you know what I mean?

Cobain: [laughs]

Novoselic: But there's good stuff out there! The Simpsons, I mean that's like a great…

© Rapido TV, 1992