LIVE NIRVANA INTERVIEW ARCHIVE March 30, 1992 - New York, NY, US
- Tom Calderone
- Dave Grohl
|Spear Communications||Modern Rock Live||Yes|
Tom Calderone: Next week's show: Chris Mars ex-from The Replacements and hopefully we'll get Dave Kendall up here…
Dave Grohl: Dave Kendall?
TC: … and we'll play that Knucklehead song.
DG: Uh, gawd [laughs]
TC: Did you meet Dave Kendall ever?
DG: No, actually, I've never met Dave Kendall but…
TC: Enough said, thank you...
DG: … I never really wanted to!
TC: We're here with Dave of Nirvana, maybe you've heard of them? They have this record out, really cool, Nevermind, maybe you’ve heard…? Matt in Denver on KTCL, hi Matt, you're on with Dave!
Listener: Hey, Dave! What’s goin’ on?
DG: Hi! How are you, Matt?
Listener: I'm doin’ alright! Um, I was just wondering if you guys expected this popularity and is it something you really wanted?
DG: No. Well… I mean, nobody expected it, um, it wasn’t… Since it was nothing that anyone expected, we didn't really look forward to it at all. When it happened, it’s just sort of… it’s a joke, I mean it’s funny, you know? It's, uh…
TC: It's almost like me doing this show, you know, it’s like a joke…
DG: Well, no, I mean it’s just like, you know, a band like this hits the Top 10 and you can either feel insulted because you're in the Top 10, because usually everything in the Top 10 is total poop anyway, so um… I don't know, it’s just strange… I mean, I don't… I don't know how to explain it! [laughs] It's weird because people ask us that a lot and we don't know what to say, other than no-one expected it and it’s all a joke, so… is that what I just said? [laughs]
TC: But let me ask you a question, though - I guess probably the reason why it hit you in such a way is because you weren’t even in the country when all this happened, so you were probably reading about it…
DG: Well, that… I mean, everyone was sort of setting us up for it, like, “God, when you get home things are gonna be so insane…”
DG: “... You can’t even go down to 7-Eleven and buy cigarettes” Or whatever. Um… it really makes no difference at all. I mean, I live in rural Virginia, you know, in the suburbs of Virginia, outside of Washington DC. It's like, the only thing people know… like, if Ronnie Van Zant walked into the 7-Eleven he’d get mobbed, but it’s like...
TC: Isn’t he dead, though?
DG: Is he?!?
TC: didn't he die in that plane crash?
DG: Duh! I don't know, I have no idea...
TC: I thought he died!
DG: OK, whatever! Well, if he walked into the 7-Eleven he’d get mobbed, wouldn’t he?!
TC: [laughs] Get those ashes off the floor!
TC: Chris from Collingswood, listening to WPST. Hi, Chris.
Listener: Hey, Dave! How are you doing?
DG: Fine, how are you?
Listener: Just a little bit cold. Other than that…
DG: Where are you from?
Listener: Collingswood, New Jersey.
Listener: My house is just freezing, that's all.
DG: It is?
DG: Is that your fault?
Listener: No, our heater broke, actually.
DG: Oh! [laughs]
Listener: Yeah, it’s a little cold.
TC: Sorry to hear about that!
Listener: I was just wondering, what's your personal favorite Nirvana song?
DG: I would rather…[sighs] I don't…[laughs] It's, like, you go on tour for seven months and you play the same song every night for seven months and you hate them all!
DG: So… I mean, I don't hate the songs, but it’s just, like, there's so many other songs that are worth more than anything we've ever done to listen to. I mean, there's a song by a band called the Melvins that's called “Raise A Paw” and it’s like the most amazing song ever!
TC: We’ll play that later, by the way. Dave brought a bunch of his own records from home! He brought his little 45 box and we're gonna play some records in a little bit, so…
DG: Yeah. Woo.
TC: By the way, who would you vote for if the election happened today?
DG: Are you asking me, or the caller?
TC: No, the caller, I'm sorry.
DG: Caller? Caller?
TC: Hello, caller! Caller are you there?
Listener: I have no idea. Probably Brown, I have no idea.
DG: Are you registered to vote?
Listener: Yes, I am.
DG: OK, good.
TC: Make sure you vote.
Listener: I will.
TC: Thank you.
Listener: OK, bye.
TC: Minneapolis, KJJL. Ansley?
TC: you're on with Dave from Nirvana.
Listener: Hi, Dave!
DG: Hi! Hey, you're on! [laughs]
TC: you're in the air!
Listener: OK, my question is, I was wondering where you filmed the Smells Like Teen Spirit video?
DG: We did the Smells Like Teen Spirit video in a sound studio in Los Angeles and, um, the director made it up to look like a high school gymnasium. We sort of had this idea before we’d done it that we wanted to have this pep rally from hell. So he made the whole thing look like… he made it up to look like a gymnasium and he used this weird smoke stuff that's smelled like petrol and…
DG: … We were picking black boogers out of our noses for the next couple of weeks…
TC: [laughs] That seems like such a long time ago, doesn't it? When you did the whole video?
TC: Yeah. I mean, when you did… when you actually did the video, what point was that? Had the record been released or…?
DG: That was before…
DG: ... No-one… We had… We played a show the night before we did the video, or two nights before, and the director decided to come down with these flyers saying “Hey, we're shooting a Nirvana video, everybody come down!” And he was passing them out to people who he thought would look cool on the video…
TC: Um hm.
DG: … And we thought that was really stupid because it’s just, like… he was probably passing them out to, like, CHICKS…
DG: … Or just being a total moron… Whatever! So we announced over the PA that we were doing this video and that we wanted a lot of people to come down. So they came down and they'd never heard the song before and, um… it turned out pretty neat.
TC: That's actually a good way to play a song for people for the first time, like, in a gymnasium or a studio like that, to get people’s reaction to it…
DG: Well, I mean, it was weird because the PA wasn’t loud enough and there was this crowd of, like, insane teenagers, um… I don't know… it was just weird, I don't know what anyone expected. I suppose they expected some, like, tranquil whatever Dire Straits crowd, but um…
DG: … We did the video and the first take it’s like, “OK, the beginning of the song, take it easy and then build up, it’ll get really intense and go nuts!” So everyone- the whole crowd went nuts…
DG: … and the director sorta flipped and didn't know how to handle it, so…
TC: Are you happy with the way it came out, at least?
DG: Yeah, there's… yeah, sure, I guess. What am I going to say? “No”?
TC: Yeah, you could say “No”.
DG: OK! No, I'm not! [laughs]
TC: Right, great…
DG: There’s a couple of things about it that I don't like, but…
TC: Not enough shots of you?
DG: No! I mean, it’s just… you fuck- [laughs] Excuse me!
TC: That's OK…
DG: [laughs] You do a video and what do you expect, you know? It's, like, you do a video…
TC: Peter in Albany, EQX. Peter, you're on with Dave.
Listener: Oh! Hi, Dave!
DG: Hello, Peter. How are you?
Listener: I'm good! And yourself?
DG: … I'm fine, I'm drinking water. I'm drinking water out of the cup that, uh… that, uh…
DG: … that Enya just drank out of!
Listener: Um, my question is… what the song Polly is about?
DG: Polly is a song about a girl who was abducted by, um… by a man and was molested and abused. And, eventually, she turned and decided that the only way she could escape was to seduce this man and, um… I think it’s a true story about a woman in Tacoma, Washington, and, um… A lot of people have listened to it and thought it was pro-rape song but, um, [laughs] I guess that sort of defines the mentality of younger middle-class people growing up - they listen to a song that discusses rape and immediately think that it’s a pro-rape song. I dunno… It's just a story about a woman who was abducted and molested and eventually got away.
TC: Igor, listening to WPST - Hi, Igor!
TC: Hi! you're on with Dave from Nirvana.
Listener: OK, I have a question…
DG: Is it “I-gor” or “E-gor”?
Listener: No, it’s “E-gor”, don't call me “I-gor”!
TC: Sorry, Igor!
Listener: OK. Um, your songs are very thought provoking and disturbing, so why did you decide to call yourselves “Nirvana”, which means great peace?
DG: It just… it sounded good.
Listener: Oh, so for no particular reason?
DG: Well, I think Kurt- Kurt and Krist picked the name and decided that it just sounded… It was either that or, like, “Skid Row” or “Pen Cap Chew” or “Ed, Ted and Fred”, so… whatever! Hey, read the Rolling Stone article! [laughs]
TC: Hey, by the way, I read something today, there's another band claiming the name “Nirvana” in England or somewhere like that - did you hear about this?
DG: There was this band… this Mister Mister, like, Christian Rock band from Los Angeles called Nirvana.
TC: No, there's another band now, this Classic Rock ‘60s band from England…
DG: Oh, no, yeah… I don't know…
TC: There’s a new one today…
DG: What’s that?
TC: It's a new one today, there was a new lawsuit, I guess. OK, we're gonna take a break…
DG: What music is this?
TC: This is the theme!
DG: The theme from what?
TC: The theme from Modern Rock Live, Dave! What do you think?!
DG: Who did the theme?
TC: Um… the production house.
DG: Did the drummer have a double bass?
TC: [laughs] Oh, yeah! Of course!
DG: It definitely sounds like it.
TC: I think I'm having a heart-attack!
DG: Connection! Connection!
TC: No, that means I have chest pains… alright!
DG: Wait a minute, what do you have to do to get a line...
TC: You have to pay a lot of money for it.
DG: You have to pay a lot of money?
TC: Yeah, yeah, we pay for every phone-call that comes into this show.
TC: Well, it’s for the fans, we do it for the fans!
DG: What if the show sucks?
TC: We give them their money back, we give them back their 17 cents. Shane in Boulder, Colorado, listening to KTCL - Hi, Shane!
Listener: Um, yeah, I think you guys are cool. I mean, that's cool… and, um… yeah, you guys are cool.
DG: [laughs] Thank you.
Listener: I was wondering, are you guys gonna be touring soon? And if you're gonna be coming around here?
DG: Well, we were thinking of doing a tour, um, with Sonic Youth and The Pixies and Mudhoney and The Jesus Lizard and The Melvins and calling it the “Lullafullana Tour”...
DG: … But we're not sure if that's gonna happen. I think that was supposed to happen in June or July. But we definitely will be on tour this Summer, I'm not sure if we'll be coming-to-your-town but, uh, I think we will be on tour this Summer.
TC: You guys are obviously on a break… just away from each other.
DG: Yeah, we toured for a long- We did, like, a 7-month stretch, with a couple of weeks off in-between here and there, and we got really burned out… and decided to take some time off.
TC: You must’ve played venues like the Shea Stadium and all the major venues, ‘cause everyone you run into goes “Oh, yeah, I saw Nirvana when they first came.” So, like, I think everyone…
DG: Well, everyone’s sorta under the impression that we're gonna end up doing a massive stadium tour and, um… I really have no idea what's gonna happen for this next tour but, uh… to jeopardize the whole vibe that we try to put off when we play live, um… would just be wrong. I dunno… I honestly don't know what's gonna happen for the next tour. I think we're gonna-, since we're gonna take a lot of bands on tour with us, we'll probably be doing an outdoor thing.
TC: And you guys are in it for the long-haul, you're not in it for the… right? I mean, you hope to be around, Nirvana will be around for a while, right? You’d hope? Maybe?
DG: I don't know.
TC: Oh, we'll see. Brad in Minneapolis, on KJJL. Hi, Brad!
Listener: Hiya. Hi, Dave! How are you doin’?
DG: Hello. How are you, Brad?
Listener: Oh, pretty good. Um, I just wanted to say…
DG: Wait, did you ever see that movie, Talk Radio?
Listener: Yeah, that was a great movie!
DG: OK, ‘cause I never saw it and I'm sorta livin’ it here!
TC: By the way, you're the home of Mystery Science Theater 3000!
Listener: That's true.
TC: Great show.
Listener: Mm hm. Uh, I’ve been a fan of Nirvana for quite a while and I was just wondering, what do you think of the Heavy Metal exposure and all the metal fans suddenly…?
DG: Well, it’s strange. I mean, you can think of it a couple of different ways, it’s like… If people are exposed to your music, there are a lot of ideas that are put forth in our music and hopefully people are being exposed to new ideas and… There’s a lot- there's tons of aspects of Heavy Metal that I just despise! I mean, the sexist, macho, muscle-flexing attitude that a lot of Heavy Metal bands sorta put forth, it’s disgusting, you know? And we wanna have nothing to do with that at all! I mean, I would die if anyone deemed us some Heavy Metal, whatever, macho-blah-blah-blah-sexist-Heavy-Metal… I’d just blow my head off! But I don't think that it’s wrong that a lot of kids are getting into the music, as long as they sort of understand where we're coming from, you know? We're coming from… basically, we were all kids that were bred on Punk Rock and there's a lot of new ideas that we're trying to sort of spread. Since we've been thrown into the mainstream, the only way we can really be happy is to take advantage of the exposure we've gotten and [sighs], you know, give people a new perspective. Hopefully it works, I don't know… A lot of people don't understand where we're coming from and they just, whatever, bang their heads to Breed. I don't know.... There’s a lot more to it than just banging your head on stage, I guess.
TC: You brought some records with you. You wanna play The Melvins? Do you wanna talk about this band?
DG: Yeah, this band, The Melvins… the singer of The Melvins introduced Kurt and Krist to each other, whatever, like 6 or 7 years ago- 5 or 6, whatever. Um, The Melvins were the band that pretty much started the whole “Grunge” - I say with quotation marks - movement or whatever. The Melvins are a 3-piece, they're from Seattle but they moved to San Francisco ‘cause they got sick of Seattle. Anyway, they're the heaviest band in the world! They deserve more credit than Metallica! Um, this is the Melvins, this is a song called Hog Leg and, um, listen to it and get your tape decks ready ‘cause you have to tape this because there's nothing like The Melvins in the world!
TC: On Modern Rock Live.
TC: Yes, it’s The Melvins on Modern Rock Live. Dave, great song! You wanna tour with these guys?
DG: [laughs] What’s that?
TC: You wanna tour with these guys?
DG: Sure! Yeah! Definitely!
TC: On your big Summertime tour?
DG: Our big Summertime tour?
TC: The Lullafullana Tour with Nirvana, coming soon to your town. [laughs] We're gonna take a break and we'll be back with Matt from Detroit and we'll go to Philadelphia and more. We're with David from Nirvana and this is Modern Rock Live at 1800-223-ROCK.
TC: And this is Tom Calderone with Dave from Nirvana. Matt in Detroit, listening to us on 89X, Hi, Matt… I'm sorry, no, let's go to Meldin in Lansdale, listening to us on WPST - Hi, Meldin…
Listener: Hi, Dave?
DG: Hello, Meldin.
Listener: Hi, I'm doin’ alright. Um…
DG: Is it Meldin?
Listener: No, it’s Medlin.
TC: I'm sorry! I haven't got my glasses on, I'm sorry!
DG: Damn, you're bad with names, man! [laughs]
Listener: That's right! Uh…
TC: Thanks, Steve!
Listener: … You guys just recently toured Japan and I was wondering, how are the audiences in Japan as opposed to the audiences in America?
DG: It's weird. When you play shows in Japan, there's such- there's, uh… there's so much control. It's like, the first show that we played in Japan was in Osaka and, uh… and [sighs] It's weird. It's sorta like a lecture hall. People can’t get out of their seats, they can stand up in their seats and sorta “Hey” shake their fists, but they can’t… There’s usually no places you play that have General Admission, um… It's strange, I dunno… It's weird. People are so used to being, um… under restraint, or control, that they can’t… whatever… break out and have a good time, I don't know… ``it was strange. Some of the shows were great! `we did 4 shows there, 2 of them were General Admission places but, um… even then, still, they had barriers. Not only did they have a barrier in-front of the stage, they had barriers out- there's one in-front of the stage, and then a few out towards the crowd, and another from there and… There were these little pens where maybe 10 or 20 people could fit in each pen and there were security guards in each pen!
DG: It was weird!
TC: Could that have happened when Cheap trick played Budokan?
DG: I don't know. Listen to the record, maybe you’ll figure it out.
TC: Matt in Detroit, 89X. Hi, Matt.
Listener: What’s up?!
TC: What’s up?
Listener: Hi, Dave.
DG: Hi, Matt. How are you?
Listener: Pretty good.
Listener: Alright. This is kind of a long one but I’ll make it short…
Listener: One time on 120 Minutes - not to make you mad in a Dave Kendall sort of way - But, one time…
DG: What?! [laughs] I'm joking! Go ahead…
Listener: I just heard that Dave Kendall on the way home. Anyway, um, Krist said that being on a major label made you guys and, like, Dinosaur Jr. more accessible to people. Now, do you think that being that accessible is important? Or do you think, like, for some people, besides you, Marky Mark is their new favorite group?
Listener: I mean, being accessible is good, but don't you think it’s better to be accessible to the right kind people who appreciate the power and passion of your music?
DG: Well, no, because it’s the kinda thing where, like, with what we're doing, if we were to… it’s like preaching to the converted, you know? I mean, if we were to stay within an independent thing, no-one would realize that there's other bands out there. The advantage of being on a major label is distribution, OK?
Dave: If you're a label- on an independent where distribution is limited, your record isn’t gonna get out to the masses or whatever. you're not gonna be in some shopping mall in Indiana or whatever. If you're trying to say something with your music, then definitely you wanna get it out to as many people as possible. And to show people that there's an alternative to the alternative out there is more important to us than [laughs] Marky Mark. I mean, all we- right now, with all the exposure we've gotten, I would rather sit here and talk about bands that deserve what we've gotten than to talk about ourselves. I mean, I’d rather sit here and talk about Urge Overkill, or The Jesus Lizard, or The Melvins, or Hole, or Shonen Knife, or… I mean, there's so many bands that people just aren't exposed to and using a major label to that advantage is the only way that you're really gonna ever get anything done.
TC: Do you feel a kind of responsibility to the bands that…?
DG: Well, I don't want to sit here and talk about Nirvana all night, you know? I’ve brought, like, 12 CDs here of bands like The Cows, or Clouds, or Pixies, or… stuff that people…
TC: … Should hear.
TC: And we're gonna hear something else now by The Breeders… on 4AD, right?
DG: Right, yeah.
TC: OK. This is The Breeders. Do you wanna talk about this? How you discovered these guys?
DG: Well, I didn't really discover them! [laughs]
TC: How did you find out about them?
DG: Well, I don't know how I found out about them. Actually, I was living in- when Kurt and I were in Olympia, Washington, everyone was raving about this Breeders album. And it’s Kim Deal who plays in The Pixies and Tanya who plays in Throwing Muses and a couple of other people from a couple of other bands put together a record - produced by Steve Albini - and it’s really stark and it’s very moving. The record is called Pod and it’s amazing. It's just song-writing at its best, you know? And everyone should have it!
TC: The Breeders on Modern Rock Live.
TC: Dave, a lot of the bands that you like listening to, would you ever want to help produce them at all? Or help…
DG: I would not want to be a producer for anyone, ever!
DG: Definitely not!
TC: Why would that be?
DG: Because I don't know what the hell I'm doing when I get into a studio! I just, you know, I don't know… I wouldn’t want to be a producer for anyone. That's up to the producers.
TC: OK. Uh… Dana, KTCL, Littleton. Hi, Dana!
TC: Hi, you're on with Dave from Nirvana.
Listener: Um, yeah, I was wondering why you decided to put Spencer the naked baby on the cover of Nevermind?
DG: Do you know Spencer?
Listener: No, I just- I heard he got a platinum record or something.
DG: Spencer. To tell you the truth, what happened was… It was Kurt and I- Kurt and I were watching television one night as we were recording the record, we saw a special on women giving birth to babies under water and people teaching infants to swim. And the images of babies floating past the camera were just so hilarious that we wanted to use it in a video. When they asked us what we wanted to do for the cover of the record, we had no idea. Kurt and I mentioned that we saw this special yadda-da-da-da and eventually that got used. So we had a picture of a baby under water and it looked really hilarious, so we thought what we’d do is put a fishhook in-front of it - that’d be really funny - and then someone said, “Why don't you put a dollar on the fishhook?” So, um…
TC: That's how it came to be.
DG: That's how it came to be.
TC: We're gonna take a break and what I'd like everyone to do right now is get a pen and paper, OK, because Dave is going to give you 10 CDs that you should go out and buy tomorrow…
DG: Oh, good idea!
TC: … that… he wants to turn you onto these bands. So get a pen and paper ready and collect your money so you can buy this stuff tomorrow. This is Modern Rock Live.
TC: And next week’s show Chris Mars who used to be in The Replacements has got a new solo project and, uh… maybe if we're lucky Dave Kendall will grace our presence here in the studio.
TC: Make sure you get that pen and paper ready, ‘cause Dave’s gonna give you some CD things to go out and buy. We go to Will in Minneapolis on KJJL. Hi, Will.
Listener: Hi, um… Hi, Dave.
DG: Hello, Will. How are you?
Listener: Um, I'm doing good.
DG: Hey, is it cold in Minneapolis?
Listener: Actually, the weather’s been fabulous!
Listener: Yeah. Um, actually, I was in Oregon all of last week, so I missed out on the good…
DG: You know, I just saw Babes In Toyland play the other night…
DG: Actually, it was last night.
Listener: I saw them in First Avenue a few weeks ago.
DG: Did they play the big room or…?
Listener: Uh, yeah, the main room.
DG: Did a lot of people go?
Listener: Um… yeah, yeah. They usually have a good crowd for shows like that.
DG: Oh, great.
TC: Do you like them?
Listener: Oh, yeah, certainly.
DG: Will, you don't have to lie to us!
TC: [laughs] We're all friends!
Listener: They're alright! So here’s my question, um, you guys are from the Seattle area or you’ve come out of the Seattle area, and Lou Reed said in big the urban areas it’s harder to nurture pure rock and a good sound. What do you think of the Seattle area and your career, how it’s spawned Nirvana’s sound and other bands in the area?
DG: Well… first of all, no-one ever considered this a career in the first place. Second of all, the Seattle thing, um… Kurt and Krist grew up in Aberdeen, which is a logging town south of Seattle and never lived in Seattle; Krist recently moved up to Seattle. And, um, the whole Seattle scene thing, I mean, I don't really know how to answer that question, because there are a few bands that I really respect and that I really like that come from Seattle. I'm from Washington DC, I never spent much time in Seattle at all. It just seems that now the whole- the Seattle scene hype has been blown so out of proportion that bands are going to Seattle and claiming that they’ve lived there all their lives!
DG: And, uh, are hot and ready to be picked up by some A&R man to spread the Seattle Gospel or whatever… There’s so many bands from Seattle that everyone’s sort of under the impression that it’s Pearl Jam and it’s Soundgarden and it’s Nirvana and whatever. But there's bands like Tad and Mudhoney and Beat Happening and The Screaming Trees and Bikini Kill and… There’s so many bands from Seattle that really make a difference, other than the ones that are trying really to break through into the…
TC: I guess you know Seattle’s real hype when they start asking Heart their opinion on the Seattle music scene. Let's listen to Shonen Knife, another CD you picked out, Dave, before we close the show. They did a Christmas song, but this is a pretty cool record, right?
DG: This is actually only a 3-song EP. It had the Christmas song on it and a song called Bear Up Bison, which was on… on another of their CDs they put out a couple of years ago. They're a Japanese band, they're 3 Japanese women who are pretty much the most right-on band since The Ramones.
DG: And there's- there's no… they're Shonen Knife, listen to it!
TC: Here it is on Modern Rock Live.
TC: The weird thing about that band, when they sing, actually the words come out a couple of seconds later when their mouth moves. I don't know if you knew that or not?
TC: Yeah, I'm just kidding. Dave, thank you very much for coming.
DG: you're welcome.
TC: And thanks for taking the phone-calls and everything. We look forward to seeing you guys in the Summertime… ah, with, ah… with the tour.
DG: Hopefully we will.
TC: Yeah. And you're gonna have a bunch of cool bands with you, too. The guys you wanted to expose more...
TC: Might as well take advantage of it, right?
© Spear Communications, 1992