LIVE NIRVANA SESSIONS HISTORY (Melvins) 1992–1993 - Brilliant Studios, San Francisco, CA, US View in Google Maps

  • Melvins
    • Anderson, Billy (bass)
    • Crover, Dale (drums, backing vocals)
    • Osborne, Buzz (vocals, guitar)
  • Cobain, Kurt (percussion)
  • Smith, Al (percussion)
  • Supple, Mike (percussion)
  • Anderson, Billy (engineer)
  • Burnside, Jonathan (engineer)
  • Cobain, Kurt (producer)
  • Kessler, Wolf (assistant)
  • [O] Hooch
  • [O] Joan of Arc
  • [O] Set Me Straight
  • [O] Spread Eagle Beagle Cobain on percussion
Source ID Quality Complete Runtime Lowest Gen Tracks Featured Notes
SBD #1 10.0 0:05:15 Official CD (Melvins - Houdini) • Hooch
• Set Me Straight
Mixed by Jonathan Burnside (credited to Kurt Cobain and Melvins), 1992.
SBD #2 10.0 0:13:49 Official CD (Melvins - Houdini) • Joan Of Arc
• Spread Eagle Beagle
Mixed by GGGarth Richardson, 1993.
SBD #3 10.0 0:04:18 Official CD (Melvins - Singles 1–12) • Spread Eagle Mixed by an unidentified engineer, date unknown. Features some of the percussion from Spread Eagle Beagle and vocals from various other songs.

Kurt Cobain is credited with producing the Melvins' major label debut, Houdini, but the true extent of his involvement is hard to gauge. I still don't know what the technical description of a producer is, Cobain told Impact's Jennie Punter in 1993. I just oversaw everything, I pretty much observed and made a few comments and suggestions here and there. I physically set up the microphones for a few of the songs. And I mixed it. (1) However, eyewitness reports suggest that Cobain was largely indisposed—leaving engineers, Jonathan Burnside and Billy Anderson, to pick up the slack.

Hooch, while attributed to Cobain on the album's liner notes, was tracked and mixed almost entirely by Burnside, I put Dale at one end [of the room] and two Neumann U67s at the other, quite compressed, recalls the engineer. When he did those BAM BAM double hits on the snare, I turned on those mics during the mix for those hits. (2)

[The stuff attributed to Kurt] was definitely mixed by Jonathan, confirms assistant engineer, Tom Doty. Kurt was mostly asleep on the couch in front of the console. He woke up once to ask for the guitars to be louder (I can't remember which song), and once to ask if we had any free sodas (we didn't—just a vending machine). (3)

Of course, there may have been conversations outside of the studio regarding the mixes that I wasn't privy to, says Doty. I wasn't present for the tracking, but from what I heard he wasn't very hands-on in those sessions either. Still, it was great for the band—who in their right mind would turn down an offer from Kurt Cobain to produce their record? (3)

The Melvins were said to have been appreciative of Cobain's hands-off approach. (4) What I was looking for from Kurt was musical input, not knob-twiddling input, Osborne later told Guitar World. I was burnt-out at the time, and thought another creative collaborator would help out. But it didn't really happen. Dale and I did most of that album ourselves. (5)

  1. Punter, Jennie, 1993. In Womb, Impact [online] Available at: https://www.livenirvana.com/interviews/9308jpr/index.php.
  2. Burnside, Jonathan, 2008. Personal communication with Alex Roberts.
  3. Doty, Tom, 2008. Personal communication with Alex Roberts.
  4. Azerrad, Michael, 1993. Come As You Are: The Story Of Nirvana. Doubleday.
  5. Unknown author, 1995. The Father, The Son and The Holy Grunge, Guitar World, Feb., 1995.

© Alex Roberts. August 28, 2011