Nirvana interview from 1990
By Ray Wallace
In the spring of 1990, April 16th to be exact, on the stairs leading up to The Dance Cave above Lee's Palace, I had the chance to meet up with the trio who call themselves Nirvana. At the time the lineup consisted of vocalist and "Dark Star" Kurdt Kobain, outspoken and eccentric bassist Chris Novoselic, and since departed drummer Chad Channing. (He has been replaced by former Scream drummer Dave Grohl). The club had approximately 90 people inside. For the bulk of the session, however, it was just Chris rifling off crude comments and dreams.
PEACE: Give mea brief history.
Chris: "We crawled out of the sea. We were amoebas and we crawled out of the sea and slowly evolved into legs and armsand hands and picked up guitars and staded playing."
Chad: And then we were born. No wait, we were reborn first
Chris: We were reborn Christians. We're going to talk to you about the Lord and God and your personal relationship with Jesus Christ
PEACE: It has been rumoured that the only reason you were signed is that Kurdt is a Robin Zander lookalike?
Chris: Yeah. See, there was an intense bidding war. It was sign with Sub Pop or sign with K-Tel
Kurdt: Or Buddah Records.
Chris: They put us up because of the Cheap Trick Dream Police album cover.
Kurdt: Made us pose and dress up in exactly the same costumes.
Chris: (singing) Police, Police.
Chris: Yeah. We're gonna do a Cheap Trick cover tonight. We're gonna do "The Flame."
PEACE: Is it true that Kurdt had an accident at a K-mart perfume counter.
Kurdt: Well I wanted a scent that would reflect me so we put together some spices, Ginseng....
Chad: And dirty socks.
Kurdt: Dirty socks. Well actually its not true. You don't have to go by that
PEACE: Tell me about your new material, (which became Nevermind).
Chris: It's a lot more melodic. There's a lot more melody. There's driving songs. There's gonna be melodic songs. There's not gonna be anything real slow or grungy on It.
Chad: There's boating songs and airplane songs.
Kurdt: We're every category you could think of, like Reggae.
Chris: Funk. I do some of the most amazing slap bass on this one song. You should see it. I just break the string right off. I keep on playin' and while I'm playing I tune guitar strings around the broken strings so I can still play while I'm still playing (not a typo) because I am such an accomplished bass player. While we're talking about my bass playing, also, I practice about seven hours a day. You see my talent and the way I play you'd know that it would take dedication. It takes....
Kurdt: A lot of reading Guitar World
Chad: And no drugs.
Chris: I know every John Entwhistle lick and every Emerson, Lake and Palmer like and while we're talking about mmmeeeeee....
Unknown person listening in: But can you slap like Sly Stone? (Editors note: You fool, Larry Graham played bass for Sly.)
Chris: Sure I can slap him. I slap him upside the head. I slap him. I slap him. Let me talk about me again. I'm a pretty nice person. I get along with...... I'm insecure. I can't function socially. See. I'm breaking down in public now. Do you like me? What's wrong with me?
PEACE: I don't know. What is?
Chris: What do I look like? A Goddamn psychoanalysis schiz or something?
Unknown person still listening in: I told you we shouldn't have given them the five per cent beer. These Americans can't handle it.
The interview went on for a wee bit longer. In that we discussed their song "Floyd The Barber" which is about Mayberry's main man with the scissors, the rock power known as Soundgarden, their hobbies which include cake decorating, watching seminar television, collecting pissed on mattresses and anything to do with unicorns and their love of women "wearing really thick glasses looking at you."
The show which took place following the interview was a rock spectacle which has yet to be matched for both intensity and excitement. It all began when Chris climbed on top of his bass cabinet with his bass head. Towering 12 feet above the stage he began to balance the head on his own and before you could blink threw it across the stage and tumbled into the drums. Chad began to furiously drum all over including on the legs of Chris. Not to be outdone, Kurdt entered the crowd and began to throw beer bottles at the pair. Excited members of the audience joined in. Promoter Elliot Lefko quickly hopped onstage and, dodging bottles, beseeched the audience to stop.
Nirvana made their return to Toronto in front of a sold-out Opera House crowd on September 20th 1991, the very day that Nevermind was rush-released to the stores and the first date of their North American tour. They had just completed a two week tour of Europe with label mates Sonic Youth. New drummer Dave Grohl told me that they were almost dropped off their new label before they even had a release while in Germany.
"All of us were sort of drunk and we got off stage. We walked into our room in the back and there was this little basket filled with candies and a couple of magazines and stuff and it said "Welcome to Germany. Can't wait 'till the record comes out. Blah, blah, blah. Love, this womans name, I don't remember it, from MCA. You know, which is DGC in Europe. And there was this little basketball hoop on it that you throw a piece of trash through and it makes this crowd noise like HHHAAAAA!!! And so we looked at it and go, "Oh what the hell," you know. We're just sitting down then she walks in and we said, & "Hi," and we're all sweaty drunk and sort of stumbling around and we didn't want to make conversation. She sort of left and one thing led to another and the fire extinguisher got lit off in the room and then all the stuff got thrown over the place. And we got the note.
"Kim (Gordon) from Sonic Youth had written "Fuck You All" on it. So it looked like it said, "Hello. Welcome to Germany. Can't wait to work for your record. Fuck You All, Love MCA. You know. And the woman from MCA came back in the room and saw the candy all over the place and everything was busted. And she saw the note that said, "Fuck you all" and she thought that we had written it. So we walked back in the room fifteen minutes later and she had written this big note that said, "Fuck you too. Assholes." She went back to her label and was crying to her boss and we sort of got into a heap of trouble but you know, that's just so stupid. It's just being babysitted. It's just like being in high school and you have these teachers watching out for you. So everyone was saying, Better watch out. You'll be kicked off your label. I said, Well fuck it! If it's going to be like this who fuckn' cares. It was pretty close."
Nirvana. They may be Flower Sniffin', Kitty Pettin', Baby Kissin', Corporate Rock Whores but they still have a number one album and a punk rock attitude.