LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE January ??, 1992 - Tacoma, WA, US
- James Sherry
- Krist Novoselic
|Metal Hammer||Nevermind The Bollocks||Yes|
|Earshot Records||Nirvana: Interviews 1990 - 1992 "My Dad Was A Codeine Freak"||Yes|
NIRVANA don't like talking very much, and seem even less willing to get carried away with the runaway success of their second album, 'Nevermind'. Why the bedroom band from Seattle have become the biggest new act in the cosmos is as much of a mystery to them as anyone. Still, we bloody love 'em, you bloody love 'em and JAMES SHERRY is positively a-quiver at the thought of an exclusive interview with bassist Chris Novoselic! Wonders will never cease!
Nirvana have never made much of a secret of the fact that their success has taken them completely by surprise and, basically, they are pretty perplexed by the whole thing. Any band coming from a scene as underground as punk, and suddenly thrown into mainstream success in the space of a couple of months, is bound to show signs of strain. Nirvana, of course, get through the whole thing in their own little way by either having a dig at themselves through their T-Shirts (1990's tour shirt read 'Crack Smokin', Satan Worshippin', Fudge Packin', Motherfuckers' compared to '91's 'Flower Sniffin', Kitty Pettin', Baby Kissin', Corporate Rock Whores!') or attempting to open doors for other bands a little, as very tall bass playing person Chris Novoselic explains, "Yeah, for me personally, the fact that we can help expose a lot of bands now that we have all this exposure kinda justifies what we're doing. You know, spread the wealth a little!"
Have you begun to notice the impact that your success has had on the whole alternative/indie scene yet?
"Not yet no; but I haven't really been watching!"
As I go on to inform Chris of all the bands like Daisy Chainsaw, Senseless Things and Silverfish who are beginning to achieve exposure, he does seem somewhat surprised!
"That's really cool," gasps Chris. "But to be honest it would be stupid to say that was just us. Things were gonna change sooner or later anyway and we were just in the right place at the right time and accessible enough for the mainstream to grab."
Another exciting development is Nirvana's crossover in, into the normally 'tunnel-vision' rock scene, coming crashing down onto the front cover of Metal Hammer. Deep down, I always hoped for the revolution in metal but never thought it would happen quite this fast. I thought I was going to have a lot more work to do yet! I tell Chris that Nirvana have the honour of being voted Metal Hammer's 'Best New Band' by our readers and quite frankly, he's lost for words!
"Alright!" he claims rather unconvincingly. "That's cool; we're flattered! Hopefully a lot of these metal fans will find out where we're coming from and see the Sub Pop label on our records and check out other Sub Pop bands! I know you were responsible for turning a lot of these people onto us and the more off-beat stuff!"
Wooo, major stiffy! Chris has just made it all worth it!
One thing that must have crossed the band's mind is that creation of difficult third album. I mean, the success and quality of 'Nevermind' is going to be pretty hard to match, although I think we can rely on Nirvana to come up with another classic batch of songs.
"No, we're not worried about that at all, our only concern is putting out a record that will satisfy us. If we think it's great then that's all there is to it. If we start catering to the public, we'd just be full of sell-out. Start compromising just because of record sales and all that - you're just fucking a dog!"
What about the fad aspect of it? Do you think you're in for more than five seconds of fame?
"Yeah, obviously we've thought of all that. I mean, we're just a new popular group and then people get sick of us! Sure, it's a fad when there's yuppies dancing to our songs. Like gee, they're still yuppies, they still have their values. To them we're just that new band with that crazy new 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' song and that's it. I do think there's a lot of people who really enjoy our music as well though, especially judging by the letters we receive, They took enough time to write and express how they feel about us, so they must really like us!"
"Whatever happens is gonna happen," states Chris. "We're not fishing for record sales"
The press and media in general is obviously having a field day over these three funny Americans who play loud music and smash up their instruments on TV. How do you feel about the way you're portrayed by the press?
"First off, we were just portrayed as a bunch of drunks and nihilistic trouble-makers you know, but hopefully things will change enough so that people can see that we do have some opinions and ideas that we'd like to express in interviews and stuff. Just to cause some damage and exploit the media and the position we're in."
At this point, Chris lets out a god-almighty scream, stating that he's just trodden on his poor cat (Tiddles I presume!) resulting in a quick break in the interview to nurse his poor cat's foot.
Is he alright? I ask, concerned for the well-being of the Nirvana cat.
"Oh he's alright; a little shook up, I think!"
So would you be if you'd just been trodden on by a six foot, lanky bass-player! Anyway, back to the media…
"I might as well throw my two cents into the ring, people can take it however they like. I'll only talk about the stuff I can handle and I'll just try to be aware of what I'm saying in interviews so I don't just spew off a bunch of crap! Hopefully not, I probably do though!"
One thing that has been blown slightly out of proportion is the attention Nirvana receive for smashing their gear up. Something I'd like to believe wasn't a planned move on the band's part.
"Yeah man, that's just fun and nothing else," laughs Chris. "If I was in charge of a T.V. show I'd think it was great - that's good T.V. you know, exciting!"
It must be rewarding to be in a position to take the Jello Biafra concept of mischief and being a prankster to the mainstream. All the best rock-gods were pranksters, from Ozzy biting the head off a dove to Crass selling a pretend love song to 'Loving' magazine. Nirvana follow in the true spirit.
"It's fun to shake things up a little and see what happens!"
Through their antics, it won't be long before Nirvana are seen all over the tabloid gossip columns, crammed with misinformation and lies.
"I read a couple of weeks ago that we'd burnt down our tour bus!"
Completely untrue I presume!
"Well maybe," sighs Chris. "We only set fire to the curtains and put them out again. No big deal!"
Nirvana - bringing stupidity, sarcasm, excitement and anarchy back to rock 'n' roll. All hail the kings of grunge
© James Sherry, 1992
Krist Novoselic: Hello!
James Sherry: Hi Chris?
JS: Hi, it's James from Metal Hammer.
KN: Hey, how you doing?
JS: Hi, How's it going? You've won Metal Hammer's Best New Band Poll.
KN: We're the best new band?
KN: Well that's cool. We're flattered. Hopefully a lot of these Heavy Metallers will find out where we're coming from, y'know? And they'll see, like, a Sub Pop label on our record and, y'know, check out Sub Pop bands. I know you're responsible for turning on a lot of those people!
JS: Yeah… Yeah, I hope so.
KN: Onto Sub Pop and that kinda stuff… More offbeat stuff, y'know?
KN: So, hmm… We just hope we can turn on people to that.
JS: Is that one of the main reasons that's like, keeping you going at the moment through all the hassles at the moment?
KN: Yeah. Yeah, kinda for us person- For me personally it justifies what we're doing. Well, maybe we can kinda help expose a lot of bands now that we have all this exposure, y'know? Spread the wealth a little bit.
JS: Have you noticed any of the effects yet?
KN: Not yet.
KN: No. Well I haven't really been watching, so I don't know…
JS: I've noticed it a bit in England, definitely.
KN: Oh, right?
JS: There's a few bands that have definitely been helped by you, like the Senseless Things have just got a Top 20 single and all this kind of stuff.
KN: Right! You know it's not just us, things were going to change sooner or later man, and we were just in the right place at the right time. We were just successful enough for the mainstream to grasp.
JS: Definitely. Are you enjoying the success in any way?
KN: Sure! it's really interesting to see what the heck's going on… Something different.
JS: Yeah, right. Is it different to what you expected, in the way you're treated by people and stuff like that?
KN: Mmm… a lot of people walking up, “Hey you're the bass player from Nirvana aren't you? Woah, can you sign my shirt?” “Well… I don't really want to ruin your clothes…”
JS: [laughs] Do you get a lot of that then? A lot of people coming up to you all the time? You must do really…
KN: Yeah, it's getting me more and more. Especially after doing TV shows and stuff.
JS: Are you doing many TV shows in the States? You did quite a few when you were over here.
KN: Yeah we just did a Saturday Night Live.
JS: Yeah, was that good fun?
KN: Pardon me? [James repeats] It went over great. It was a lot of fun.
JS: Excellent. So do you ever have any regrets signing to Geffen and all that kind of stuff? Any regrets at the things you've done so far?
KN: No, no. No, I don't have any regrets yet. We're really happy.
JS: That's really cool. When can we expect the follow-up to “Nevermind” then?
KN: Probably late winter.
JS: Yeah? Any plans for it yet…?
KN: Yeah, we've been kicking things around. We'll see, we've going to do this Australia/Japanese tour then we're going to take a couple months off, kind of get-together, start jamming, making a buncha noise.
JS: Yeah. So have you got any plans for it yet? Do you know what kind of stuff it's going to sound like, how it's going to sound or anything like that?
KN: Yeah. We've got a rough idea, we've been kicking some thoughts around.
JS: That's cool. So, I mean, it's going to be weird. What I mean is one problem might be with “Nevermind” being such a huge album, is people might always see it as, whatever you do next it's going to be such a hard album to follow. Are you worried about that at all?
KN: No, we're just worried about putting out a record that'll satisfy us — if we think it's great. I mean, if we start catering to the public you're just a total sell-out. If you start compromising just because of record sales, I mean, you're just fucking a dog.
JS: How do you feel about the way the band's being portrayed by the press and everything like that? The way people think of you.
KN: Well, first off, we were portrayed as a bunch of drunks and just nihilistic troublemakers, y'know? And we got some thoughts and ideas we couldn't express. Just to take advantage and to exploit the media — [cat yowls] Owww! I stepped on my cat's foot.
JS: Is it alright?
KN: [fusses over the cat] Yeah. He's a little shaken but he's OK! Y'know, might as well throw my two cents into the ring, you know what I mean? Take it for however you want. So now we go as far as stuff that I could handle intellectually. I try to be aware of what I'm saying, so I don't off a bunch of crap, at least hopefully not. I probably do!
JS: You must get quite a chance now to express yourself on TV and stuff like that — especially the TV stuff you did over here, playing a different song on one of them, smashing up gear…
KN: Nah, that's just fun! If I was in charge of that TV show, I'd think that was great. That's good TV, y'know? Exciting!
JS: I would have thought it's brilliant, especially when you came and did Top of the Pops as well and Kurt sung in that voice. That was just hysterical.
KN: That was fun! You've got to do something different, shake it up a little bit, see what happens.
JS: Yeah, just to get different reactions and stuff like that. You don't ever plan to do stuff like that, are they all just things that happen at the time?
KN: Just last second, “hey man, what if we did…?” “Yeah-yeah-yeahyeahyeah!”
JS: People seem to be making quite a big deal about the gear smashing and stuff like that.
KN: Well that's media for ya! it's not what the band's about.
JS: it's just because they've not seen anything like it for a while.
KN: it's a lot of fun, you know.
JS: A lot of people are also saying you're not particularly enjoying the success and you're pretty pissed off at the way things have gone and stuff like that.
KN: We can get fried.
JS: The pressure must be huge, though.
KN: Yeah, I mean, it's got its good and bad points. But it's only going to be here for a few more years and then that's it.
JS: Do you think this is just a fad or do you think it's more than a fad?
KN: I think it can be a fad, to an extent — I've thought about that. We're just the new popular group and people'll get sick of us [mutters “Goddamn cat…”] it's sort of sad when there’s yuppies dancing to our song, it's like, gee, they're still yuppies. “Well here's that new band with that new song, hey, that's it!” But I think there's a lot of people who really enjoy the music, judging by the letters we get from people. They've taken enough time to write and just express how they feel about us.
JS: Oh, yeah, definitely. I think whatever happens in the next couple years you're always going to have a following anyway. Just maybe not the same media attention. Because a lot of people…
KN: That's alright by us… Whatever happens is gonna happen, we're not out there fishing for record sales.
JS: A lot of people are comparing your last tour to like the Sex Pistols over here and stuff like that.
KN: Ya think so? it's probably been blown out of proportion though, exaggerated. A lot of that Sex Pistols stuff was just an exaggeration. But they did come out of nowhere and made a big splash — and I think we did to a point, but not as…as…I don't know. I just have too much humility in my thoughts to go boasting and comparing ourselves to the Sex Pistols — I can't do that.
JS: What happens if you start ending up in tabloids and gossip columns and things like this? Celebrity! it's bound to start happening.
KN: That's just crazy! it's garbage! Yeah, I guess it's going to start happening but… When I hear about other people I don't pay attention. I've never paid attention to that stuff so…
JS: What's the stupidest thing you've ever read about the band in a newspaper? Can you think of any good examples?
KN: Oh God… The stupidest thing… Oh, we're “a cross between Roxette and Slayer,” yeah…
JS: [laughs] That’s an interesting one…
KN: And errr, our antics — oh yeah, that we burned down our tour bus. That's it.
JS: [laughs] Excellent. So when are you expected to tour here again? Do you know?
KN: We'll probably come over and do Reading… Do some shows…
JS: Yeah, I've heard a rumour that you're going to headline the Saturday night — is that sort of confirmed or…?
KN: Not really, I haven't heard it. We'll probably be a lot higher on the bill this year.
JS: Yeah, cuz I've heard you're going to be headlining on the Saturday night — you'll be the top band.
KN: Won't that be great?
JS: Yeah, it'll be excellent. Do you enjoy the Reading Festival?
KN: Oh yeah, we had so much fun last year! I like playing early just so you can get it over with and hang out with all my friends and meet people and just have a good time. Like the rest of the bands — we’re done!
JS: Are you just going to come over for the one Reading gig or do a few more, do you know?
KN: I have no idea, I know that Reading's a big possibility, though.
JS: Alright well that'll do for me. I'll just see you when you come over! Thanks a lot!
KN: OK, well thanks a lot dude.
© James Sherry, 1992