[photo: JJ Gonson]

Hanging with Nirvana at Kurt’s House in 1989

In one of the band’s first interviews, their early history and sardonic attitude comes alive

By Hanmi Hubbard | From Cobain on Cobain, edited by Nick Soulsby


April 22, 1989

The first time I saw Nirvana was at the HUB Ballroom in February of 1989. I had second-degree burns on my hand, which was all bandaged up, and I was heavily medicated. I went to the show with a group of friends and promised I’d stay in the back, away from the crowd, and most certainly out of the mosh pit. But the pull of Nirvana’s performance — the perfect mix of ear-candy pop and raw angst — was too much for me to resist. I soon found myself standing right in front of Kurt Cobain, marveling at his immense stage presence while clutching my injured hand to my heart as if pledging my allegiance. I was certain he was seven feet tall.

And I had a new favorite band.

I interviewed all four band members at Kurt’s house in Olympia for the Current, Green River Community College’s student newspaper. I was barely seventeen, had only two interviews under my belt, and truly didn’t know what the hell I was doing. The band actually asked me if I’d done an interview before, then gave me a tip for recording group interviews. We sat in Kurt and Tracy’s [Tracy Marander, Kurt’s girlfriend] living room, and the television was playing heavy metal videos with the sound off. Occasional non sequitur comments were made about the videos throughout the interview. Despite the sometimes sardonic answers the band members gave me, they were very kind and said it was probably their best interview to date. I kept in touch with Kurt after the interview, and when he found out how young I was, he said I should write a book about my life story. Oh, the irony.

Kurt granted my request for a copy of the band’s demo tape, and Nirvana played a show at my school. With the tape and the contract, he included a note that read:

Yo, this contract is a relief of details compared to the Sub Pop agreement I just signed. Three LPs and three long years. I feel as if I’ve signed my life away. Thanks for being so prompt in sending the official documents. We’re looking forward to seeing you on the 26th. Bye for now.
-Kurt Cobain
PS. this is how I really spell my name.

— Hanmi Hubbard


Krist Novoselic, Kurt Cobain, Chad Channing, 1989 [photo: Michael Lavine]

Hanmi Hubbard: OK, hmm . . . How long ago did you guys form, as a band?

Kurt Cobain: Jesus Christ . . .

Chris Novoselic: Maybe we should say our names so you recognize our voices — you ever done this before?

Yeah . . . But then again it was just people I knew, so —

Chris Novoselic: Usually when we do a recorded interview —

Kurt Cobain: Yeah, when we do a recorded interview it’s always like one person’s statement meshes with the others. And then it’s just one person’s —

Chad Channing: Well, you’re more apt to answer that because you guys were in the band way before me and Jason.

Jason Everman: Yeah . . . Let’s let Chris answer.

Chad Channing: Whatever year and title you give off is gonna do it.

Jason Everman: Yeah, we’ll agree.

Chad Channing: Back in 1880 —

Chris Novoselic: 1987 —

Kurt Cobain: As a band, we’ve been around for about a year. Chris and I, in Aberdeen, had been trying to form a band for about . . . gee . . . four years? Would you count “Bob” as a band, sure?

Jason Everman: Are we gonna say our names and stuff?

Yeah, we could do that.

Chad Channing: You had a band called “Bob”?

Jason Everman: Jason Everman — guitar!

Chad Channing: Chad . . . And I play drums.

Chris Novoselic: I’m Chris, the bass player.

Kurt Cobain: I’m Kurt, the crooner.

Jason Everman: Who does that leave?

Chris Novoselic: And gee-tar picker . . .

So who was originally in the band?

Chris Novoselic: Us two, but like, three drummers. Is Bob in? Should we count Bob?

Kurt Cobain: It doesn’t . . . Let’s just say three drummers.

Chris Novoselic: Yeah, three drummers.

Kurt Cobain: They all had mustaches.

Chris Novoselic: Yeah, that was weird. Dale [Crover, of the Melvins — Ed.] didn’t have a mustache.

Kurt Cobain: Oh! Dale counts too. We’ve had four drummers. And Dale was like an honorary member of Nirvana forever — he’s gotten the golden plaque. He’s even going to be mentioned on the record because he plays on two tracks.

Where’d you form — Aberdeen?

Kurt Cobain: No, as Nirvana we formed in Olympia and Tacoma.

When did Bruce Pavitt first become interested in the band?

Chris Novoselic: How’s he interested?

Kurt Cobain: Well, actually it was Jonathan [Poneman, of Sub Pop — Ed.] that was working on us for a while. (HH: When?) Almost about a year ago; in fact, during the time when we were having troubles with our other drummer we were kind of negotiating with Sub Pop to put out a single, but we weren’t quite ready. But we weren’t quite ready to be a band, to be a permanent band, ’cause they weren’t really sure if we were going to stick together or not so they needed some insurance. So we got Chad and played a few shows and . . . [Kurt yawns — all chuckle] so we got Chad and played a few shows and —

Chad Channing: And it worked out!

Kurt Cobain: And that’s our insurance. So then we put out a single.

So, OK, like, the four of you as you are now have been in Nirvana about a year now, then?

Kurt Cobain: Yes.

Jason Everman: Me and Chad played in a band together, a speed metal band called Stone Crow. Like four years ago.

Chad Channing: Did you know question number five?

Jason Everman: Why?

Chad Channing: That’s what it is — what your earlier bands were.

Jason Everman: Yeah, I pretty much read it. I’m gonna screw up the whole thing.

Chad Channing: No, it’ll be like, you answer it, and we’ll see if the question’s right.

Jason Everman: You could just, like, put that answer after that question and pretend like I answered it on time.

Chris Novoselic: Psychic!

Were the two of you in any other bands?

Chris Novoselic: No . . .

Kurt Cobain: Well, we played under different names. We actually played shows with our . . . second drummer. Under such names as Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew —

Chris Novoselic: Bliss!

Kurt Cobain: Bliss —

Chad Channing: More names than I can count!

Kurt Cobain: Yeah, we were just known as the band that changed their name.

Chris Novoselic: Every show!

Kurt Cobain: Every show.

Jason Everman: It was a gimmick.

Chad Channing: I was in a band called Magnet Men, which is how I met those guys.

Chris Novoselic and Kurt Cobain: Yeah!

Jason Everman: Yeah, I don’t — I did meet you guys at that show, that’s right! Because —

Kurt Cobain: We played with you, and our drummer had such a crappy drum set that he borrowed yours.

Chris Novoselic: Yeah, and sho’nuff . . . we were amazed when we seen the North drum set. So fuckin’ far out, man.

HH: Who would you say has influenced your music?

Chad Channing: Mass . . .

Chris Novoselic: Mass . . .

Kurt Cobain: Too much . . .

Jason Everman: Personal influences?

HH: Personal or other artists.

Kurt Cobain: Well, before I knew better I imagine Led Zeppelin [all chuckle] . . .

Chad Channing: The Pixies . . .

Kurt Cobain: The Melvins. The Melvins really influenced me because they lived in Aberdeen, and I watched a lot of their practices. [Hanmi shows the band that the next question on the list is about the Melvins.]

Chris Novoselic: This is weirrrrd, man.

Kurt Cobain: The Aquaman circles are coming out of the woodwork . . .

Jason Everman: Malfunkshun!

Chad Channing: Yeah, Malfunkshun, they were on the island.

Jason Everman: Me and Chad have the big Malfunkshun influence . . . ’Cause they’re, like, older than us and a cool band, and we pretty much worshiped them.

Kurt Cobain: Basically I was a rocker-stoner. And then I got into punk rock, and now I’m into both.

Jason Everman: I was a rocker. Then I was a punker. Then I was an . . . idiot. Well, I was always an idiot.

Kurt Cobain: We’ve just always had identity crises. We don’t belong!

Jason Everman: Just don’t fit.

Do you listen to any bands that have a particular style that may surprise your fans or people that listen to your music?

Jason Everman: I listen to a lot of rap and hip-hop. N.W.A.

Kurt Cobain: I like a lot of clean pop like the Vaselines and Beat Happening. Chad likes the Young Marble Giants — ooh, I answered for him!

Jason Everman: Oooh . . .

Chad Channing: Oh, they’re great, I don’t care.

[Giggles.] Your turn.

Chris Novoselic: I like bands with big fat drummers. Just whatever tape’s laying in my van, I’ll play it.

Kurt Cobain: I like, umm, Lead Belly, the blues singer. He’s a crooner. I’m trying to think of something new I listen to… I listen to a lot of kids’ records. Well, just children’s records and sound effects records — I think I enjoy listening to that stuff more than rock ’n’ roll right now. As of now, I’m just… we’re just kinda taking a break from listening to rock ’n’ roll.

Nirvana in Hoboken, July 13, 1989

Do you think that’s going to affect your music at all?

Kurt Cobain: It probably always has because I’ve never really listened . . . I’ve never been a big music fan where I’m totally obsessed with listening to music all the time, like every day. I mean, I go through weeks of not listening to music at all. I don’t think it’s gonna affect us.

Chad Channing: That’s kinda healthy ’cause —

Jason Everman: It’s totally healthy.

Chad Channing: Sometimes it’s a lot better — I dunno . . . I prefer influence over environment of where I’m at . . .

Jason Everman: Internal influences as opposed to external ones . . .

Chad Channing: So it’s not really influence, it’s more yours . . .

Kurt Cobain: A chance to create your own —

Chad Channing: It’s more what I see and what game I pick up in life.

Kurt Cobain: I’m always afraid of poisoning myself with too much influence.

Chad Channing: That’s why I don’t read!

Kurt Cobain: I suppose it’s probably a subconscious thing.

Chris Novoselic: [Yawns.] Excuse me . . .

Chad Channing: God bless you.

How long ago did you start playing?

Chris Novoselic: When I was eighteen.

Jason Everman: Guitars?

Whatever —

Chris Novoselic: I was force-fed accordion lessons.

Jason Everman: I was fifteen . . . I’m twenty-one now, so that’s six years.

Chad Channing: I played violin when I was about fifteen. I haven’t been playing drums that long, really. I started playing guitar like everyone else; I really like the bass guitar.

Kurt Cobain: How long have you played drums now, about six months?

Chad Channing: No! A year, you said we’d been together a year.

Jason Everman: My mom finally bought me my first electric a couple months ago, so I’m pretty psyched.

Chris Novoselic: Yeah! We were a mariachi band. [Interrupted by the arrival of “Damon” — greetings all around, explanation of what’s going on.]

Where do you see yourself in, let’s say a year on from now? Will you still be on Sub Pop?

Kurt Cobain: Hopefully together. We will . . . we have definite plans for staying on Sub Pop.

Chad Channing: That’s a safe answer.

Kurt Cobain: Yeah, that’s a safe answer. [Obvious amusement in his voice.]

Chad Channing: That’s all I’m gonna say.

Has anyone approached you with like a major record deal? Or a large indie label?

Jason Everman: There’s pretty much a full-scale bidding war going on right now that we can’t really talk about.

Chad Channing: Nor will we say it . . . for just the change in their pocket.

How do you manage to keep going through your whole set? ’Cause you’re known as one of the most exciting bands, I guess — you jump around so much —

Jason Everman: Steroids! [Laughter.]

Chad Channing: Vigorous training.

Chris Novoselic: Exercise programs. Thirty push-ups —

Jason Everman: We got a trainer that we’re gonna take on the road with us. We work out a lot, as you can tell.

Kurt Cobain: I’ve got a Jack LaLanne record; that helps me.

Jason Everman: Aerobics.

Chris Novoselic: Whoa. Do you do it on like 78 speed?

Kurt Cobain: No, it’s a ten-inch, and it’s blue vinyl, it’s pretty cool.

Chad Channing: Actually that’s why we’re so thin.

Jason Everman: Did Sub Pop put it out?

Kurt Cobain: It’s a limited edition Jack LaLanne Sub Pop thing —

Jason Everman: Single of the Week — or Month. That’s excellent.

Nirvana in 1988 [photo: Charles Peterson]

Who, as far as other bands, do you like to see live?

Kurt Cobain: Mudhoney.

Chris Novoselic: Mudhoney.

Jason Everman: Soundgarden.

Chris Novoselic and Kurt Cobain: Yeah, Soundgarden.

Chad Channing: No local bands.

Jason Everman: Forced Entry.

Chad Channing: Well, if I could see, who would I like to see? I’d like to see the Angry Samoans live if that would be possible.

Kurt Cobain: Are they still around?

Chad Channing: I’d sure like to see Bad Brains. That show’s impossible. I’d sure like to see Shonen Knife. That would be a great show!

Chris Novoselic: Yeahhhh.

Kurt Cobain: Shonen Knife. That’s who we’d like to tour with in the summer. Something that our fans wouldn’t expect. They’d get a big thumbs-up.

Jason Everman: I like seeing Slayer live.

Chad Channing: Yes! Slayer live, yeah, that’s good for me.

Kurt Cobain: I wanna see Iggy Pop.

Jason Everman: I saw Iggy in Frankfurt. And Lemmy was in the audience. It was excellent. Lemmy was right up front getting into it. I saw Motörhead the next night, so it was really cool.

Chad Channing: I think Dave went to those shows; he’s got like a poster thing of Iggy Pop.

Jason Everman: Yeah, he was at one of the Metallica shows I was at over there, him and Renee.

How long have you been working on the album?

Chad Channing: Forever —

Chris Novoselic: About half a week —

Jason Everman: We’ve been in the studio about four months. We changed locks on the studio when we went in.

Kurt Cobain: We wrote three new songs the week that we recorded the album. And I wrote lyrics to two of the songs ten minutes before I recorded singing.

Chad Channing: Sitting in a car.

Kurt Cobain: So we didn’t work on the album for very long at all. It was two days, I think.

Chris Novoselic: Two days and six hundred dollars!

Chad Channing: As far as the artwork and stuff, that’s kind of taking a little time.

Jason Everman: Yeah, the packaging’s taken way longer than the actual recordings.

Chad Channing: But I think the biggest delay is Sub Pop.

Kurt Cobain: It takes a long time to get things done; you have to wait for one record to come out —

Jason Everman: Yeah, you have to wait for funds, for everything to click.

Chad Channing: It’s not like Black Flag, who can put out three new albums a year.

Kurt Cobain: We really haven’t been waiting too long, I mean, we’ve only been Nirvana for a year. To have a single and an LP out —

Jason Everman: And Sub Pop just released the Tad album, so I’m sure they want it staggered a little bit.

When you first started, where did you get the material to play live?

Kurt Cobain: The material?

Yeah.

Kurt Cobain: Well, I wrote — I guess I wrote all the songs before . . . I don’t understand what you mean?

Like, what did you play when you first started? Did you have songs already?

Kurt Cobain: Yeah, we already had songs.

Chris Novoselic: Most of the stuff that was on our demo. Did you hear that old demo of ours? It had, like, “Hairspray Queen” on it and “Aero Zeppelin.”

Kurt Cobain: Just songs that were outtakes from . . . [Hanmi and Chris quietly discuss an unofficial recording of the Bleach sessions.] Where’d you get that?

Sub Pop.

Chris Novoselic: Oh . . . bootlegs out there already.

It was before the test pressings; it was just a tape.

Jason Everman: It was probably the tape I made.

It says “Nirvana LP” —

Jason Everman: Yeah, that’s the one I made.

Kurt Cobain: What were we talking about?

Chris Novoselic: Where did we start for material. We started jamming with just junky equipment — I had a bass amp called the PMS bass amp [riotous laughter]; it said PMS on it, man! And what was it?

Jason Everman: Pre-Marshall Syndrome.

Chris Novoselic: Then I had, what? An Epiphone bass or a Hohner bass —

Kurt Cobain: It’s the classic punk rock rags-to-riches story.

Chris Novoselic: The drum set was just a piece of shit.

Kurt Cobain: They were tin cans!

Chris Novoselic: We would buy parts off stoner kids who’d wanna buy a gram and then sell a drum stand for ten bucks, and it was just like “Alright!” It was just junky old Sears stuff. Then we’d still smoke pot with them after, so, y’know —

Kurt Cobain: We were considered a legitimate band as Skid Row for about three months with our second drummer; we played a few shows, and we wrote a lot of songs which were outtakes of what we — a lot of them are — what we play now still.

This has nothing to do with the band Skid Row that’s currently —

Kurt Cobain: Oh yeah!

Chris Novoselic: One original member!

Kurt Cobain: They wanted to buy the name from us!

Did that surprise you when you saw that name?

Chris Novoselic: Oh yeah!

Kurt Cobain: Yeah, it made me think, “Wow, I’m glad we didn’t stick with that name.”

Jason Everman: But we might be touring with Bon Jovi now if we had. So consider that factor —

Kurt Cobain: There is another band from the 1960s called Nirvana.

Is there?

Kurt Cobain: Yes, and they were not too popular.

Chris Novoselic: They sucked.

Kurt Cobain: They’re bad; they were like bad early Bee Gees, and I hope they try and sue us — it’ll be fun.

Chad Channing: Valerie at the diner was like, one of her boyfriends was in that band.

Kurt Cobain: Really?

Chad Channing: Yeah, that’s pretty weird.

Chris Novoselic: Whoa —

Kurt Cobain: Oh yeah, you told me about that.

Is that where you got it from?

Chris Novoselic: No, we didn’t know about this.

Kurt Cobain: No, we didn’t know about it at the time, and then when we heard about it we bought one of their cult budget collectible records for fifteen dollars and who knows where it is now. It was bad.

Chris Novoselic: I’ve got it.

Kurt Cobain: We read this —

Chris Novoselic: There was a story on it in Strange Things magazine — you ever read that magazine? It’s from England.

Kurt Cobain: We read this story about one of the members of that band, and he seemed like a real contrived, pompous dork.

Chris Novoselic: Has-been.

Jason Everman: A never-was.

Chad Channing: Never was, never has been.

Kurt Cobain: What was some of the things he was talking about, Chris?

Chris Novoselic: Something about going to the Catalonia region of Spain to get inspired by Salvador Dalí’s vibes!

Kurt Cobain: [Laughs.] Yeah! Stuff like that, man! And he was just so close to stardom all the time in this band, but they just didn’t quite have it.

Chris Novoselic: [Observing something else.] This could be a cool postcard —

Jason Everman: It’s mine, buddy!

Where’d you get the band name from?

Kurt Cobain: It sounded good, I dunno . . . You see, I was in the middle of transcendental meditation, and I spiraled up to the ceiling, and I said, “Nirvana!” and sparks came from my belly button.

Jason Everman: Wow, it was excellent, I was there —

Kurt Cobain: He got blinded.

Chris Novoselic: Damaged eyes.

Are there any plans to move to Seattle so you’re all in one place?

Chris Novoselic: Nahhh . . . it’s a rat hole.

Kurt Cobain: No, we like to not practice. Should we practice today? Could we swing getting you home kinda late?

Chad Channing: That depends on what you’re talking about; you talking about I have to take a 2:40 ferry.

Chris Novoselic: 2:40 at night?

Kurt Cobain: Oh! 2:40 at night? No problem!

Jason Everman: Chad, Chad, Chad. You’ll be home.

Chad Channing: Yeah, but still I don’t wanna do that, but that’s just something I can get.

Jason Everman: You’ll catch a ferry before that. No problem, ’cause I’m not gonna stay that late. Probably.

Kurt Cobain: OK, we’ll have an acoustic mariachi set.

Chris Novoselic: We should go play at Reko/Muse and —

Kurt Cobain: Or do a video — we should do a video today. I don’t mind either way.

[Speaking to Chad Channing] You don’t like Saturdays?

Chad Channing: It’s everybody’s day off.

Chris Novoselic: We never practice — that’s something you oughta know, we don’t practice.

Jason Everman: I wouldn’t say we don’t practice. I practice to a tape all the time.

Kurt Cobain: Yeah, we all practice in our rooms to the tape.

Jason Everman: That’s a serious answer. It is! It’s what we do.

Kurt Cobain: I think the reason we don’t practice is —

Chris Novoselic: When we play I get pissed at myself that I should practice more.

Jason Everman: In a way it’s good we don’t practice because we don’t really get sick of the songs.

Kurt Cobain: The songs are so repetitious and easy it’s . . . it’s easy to get tired of them.

Jason Everman: Yeah, when we play ’em live they’re still fun to play. That’s the problem with a lot of bands that practice five times a week, they just get totally burned on the songs and —

Kurt Cobain: It’s like déjà vu, “Oh yeah, these songs . . .”

Chris Novoselic: Maybe that’s why it’s exciting, if we’re supposed to be exciting to see, I guess.

Jumping around?

Chris Novoselic: Because we never play, so when we play we’re so happy that we’re playing that we just hit the ceiling.

Kurt Cobain: The testosterone starts a-flowing

Chris Novoselic: We’re all celibate, too, so that helps.

Kurt Cobain: All these pent-up sexual frustrations coming out.

Chad Channing: Devouring drugs.

Jason Everman: Heavy drugs.

Kurt Cobain: None of us do drugs. Chris and I are starting to drink again — if we drink two nights in a row it’s a binge.

Chris Novoselic: I’ll drink Monday night too.

Chad Channing: I smoke every now and then.

Chris Novoselic: I don’t care anymore.

Kurt Cobain: We’re pretty much — we’re not antidrug, we just choose not to do it.

Jason Everman: That’s just the way it is.

Did any of you go to college? [All burst out laughing.]

Chad Channing: [Almost apologetically] I went to OC [Olympic College in Bremerton, WA — Ed.] for a while.

Kurt Cobain: Why didn’t you say, “Did any of you graduate high school?”

Chad Channing: I’m a high school dropout, but I got into OC.

Jason Everman: I graduated early from high school.

Chris Novoselic: I graduated a year late. Like when I was a senior, the freshmen were all like born in 1970, y’know? And I was a senior and thought, “Gee, I started school in 1970 . . . I’ve been at school as long as you guys have been alive. In public education.”

Kurt Cobain: I just couldn’t believe you were all math majors. ’Cause I had, like, theater studies.

Jason Everman: Yeah, math was my favorite subject for sure.

Chad Channing: History.

Kurt Cobain: We’re philosophers. We’re philosophy majors.

Chris Novoselic: Just get me drunk, I’ll talk your ass off.

Then where did you go to high school?

Chris Novoselic: I went to Aberdeen High School.

Kurt Cobain: I don’t even remember high school.

Jason Everman: It’s a bad trip, pretty much.

Kurt Cobain: I went to Aberdeen. I lived in Aberdeen all my life up until two years ago.

Chad Channing: Great place.

Why did you move to Olympia?

Kurt Cobain: Well, I was three months behind on my welfare-stricken house, and I was afraid that the landlord was going to call the cops on me. So I moved up with my girlfriend in Olympia.

Do any of you have other jobs or anything?

Chris Novoselic: I work at a Sizzler. [Scoffs of disbelief.] I do!

Chad Channing: I make $5.50 an hour dishwashing at Streamliner diner.

Jason Everman: I don’t work.

Kurt Cobain: I don’t work.

You just live off shows then, or try to?

Kurt Cobain: [Laughs.] Yeah, let’s just say we do.

Chad Channing: Jason is a millionaire.

Jason Everman: Yeah, I inherited millions.

Kurt Cobain: One of us has a very rich parent.

Chad Channing: Which one can it be? A — Kurt. B — Chris. C — Chad. D — Jason.

Jason Everman: One of us is Shirley Temple’s child. [Lori Black of the Melvins was Shirley Temple’s daughter. — Ed.] Shhhh! You don’t have to put anything about that!

Kurt Cobain: Don’t say that. Please don’t say that. Seriously. [All obviously amused.]

Why’d you name the album Bleach?

Kurt Cobain: Well, I don’t —

Chris Novoselic: We were cruising around the Bay Area —

Kurt Cobain: With bronchitis.

Chad Channing: Yeah, getting sick.

Jason Everman: With Bruce Pavitt.

Kurt Cobain: And Bruce suggested Bleach.

Chris Novoselic: It was fucking weird too.

Chad Channing: We were all delirious and sick and sad.

Jason Everman: We had “Merciful Fate” going on the stereo.

Kurt Cobain: Bruce took advantage of us having bronchitis and talked us into calling it Bleach.

Chris Novoselic: No, really, we drove to San Jose for nothing.

Jason Everman: For nuthin’! It was hot.

Chad Channing: Well actually it’s cool though — I like it.

Kurt Cobain: It’s a cool name.

Jason Everman: It’s catchy.

Chad Channing: It can stand for almost anything you want it to say.

Kurt Cobain: Cleaning out your needles — and acid wash.

Jason Everman: Acid wash. We get lots of free advertising on TV and everywhere else.

Chris Novoselic: You sterilize things with bleach, y’know.

Kurt Cobain: I was just going to say I don’t particularly like people that wear acid wash clothes, that’s all.

Jason Everman: Especially if they’re in Celtic Frost.

Chad Channing: Yeah . . . yeah.

When did you record the original version of “Spank Thru”?

Kurt Cobain: January ’87.

Over a year ago — two years ago!

Kurt Cobain: No, I think it was ’88, January of last year. When did we record the demo with Dale? Just about a year ago, right?

Chris Novoselic: Yeah, March — last year.

Kurt Cobain: OK, I guess it’s March. I thought it was January. I’ll find out for you.

Chris Novoselic: No, ’cause I was laid off. I was laid off from a painter’s.

Kurt Cobain: January of 1988. January 23, 1988.

Tracy Marander: And a week later Jonathan called.

Kurt Cobain: Yeah.

Did you send the demo to them or —

Kurt Cobain: No, we made ’em sweat.

Did they ask for it?

Kurt Cobain: No, Jack Endino gave it to them.

Oh really? Who recorded it?

Kurt Cobain: Jack Endino. [Everyone pauses to listen to the Pixies’ Doolittle album.]

Kurt Cobain: Pixies are my favorite band.

Chad Channing: Right now they’re unbelievable. They’re great.

If you could choose who would produce, would you want to be produced by anyone other than Jack?

Kurt Cobain: No. Not me.

Chad Channing: Probably not.

Chris Novoselic: Quincy Jones. John Paul Jones. Tom Jones.

Kurt Cobain: Davey Jones.

Chad Channing: Maybe the guy who produced the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa album.

Tracy Marander: David Bowie produced Raw Power.

Chad Channing: Really?

Jason Everman: We’d like to maybe go into a better studio next time.

Kurt Cobain: But we still have to have Jack Endino looking over his shoulder all the time.

Jason Everman: Go bigger — bigger studios.

What else is coming up for you guys?

Kurt Cobain: Well, we’ve thought about putting a couple of singles out before the New Year.

From the album or new stuff?

Kurt Cobain: We’re not sure yet.

What about compilation work?

Kurt Cobain: Oh! Yeah! We’re going to have one cut on this compilation from Australia with all these other bands doing just covers. That’ll be cool. And we’re also putting something out on a single with a band called Alphabet Swill. We’re doing a Neil Diamond cover.

Which song, do you know yet?

Kurt Cobain: We don’t know.

Chris Novoselic: I don’t know about “I’m a Believer” ’cause —

Chad Channing: The Jazz Singer!

Chris Novoselic: Yeah! It’s got an organ in it — how are we gonna do that? That’s like the whole part of the song.

Kurt Cobain: So? That doesn’t matter.

Just play it on the guitar.

Kurt Cobain: Yeah, just play the organ on the guitar.

Jason Everman: We’ll get one of those gee-tar synthesizers —

Chris Novoselic: No! No technology.

Kurt Cobain: Because it’s the only good Neil Diamond song! All his other songs suck.

Chad Channing: I didn’t know there was good Neil Diamond songs.

Chris Novoselic: What d’you know?

[Responding to something from Kurt] Yeah, when they played Nirvana the other day it was ’cause of me. No, they don’t have a single — the guy asked if I could get one. Do you have any extra copies of “Love Buzz”? Do you have any at all?

Kurt Cobain: Yeah.

Jason Everman: Kurt’s got a shitload!

Could I buy two of them from you?

Kurt Cobain: Yeah.

I owe KGRG one. I’ve got to get one to the radio station.

Kurt Cobain: Oh, they didn’t send one? Jerks! I’ve got about twenty singles.

Chad Channing: I’ve got ten.

Chris Novoselic: I’ve got one.

Chad Channing: Oh, wait, I sold one. I’ve got nine.

Well, that’s about it. Any public announcements?

Chad Channing: Yeah, that I’m in love with myself.

Jason Everman: And I’m in love with Chad.

Chris Novoselic: Eat porhk suckah!

Kurt Cobain: Eat pork?

Chris Novoselic: Aaron, my roommate, went to this soup kitchen in Las Vegas and he’s walking down these stairs, and there’s this big cartoon painting of this pig in a cop uniform and in this little balloon it said Eat Porhk Suckah! Then he walked in there and there’s like ham sandwiches, bacon, everything was like ham.

Jason Everman: Porcine.

Chris Novoselic: Yeah, eat por-ke sucker!

Jason Everman: Porcine meat products.


Originally published in the May 1989 issue of Current.


Read the unedited interview in Cobain on Cobain: Interviews and Encounters. Excerpted with permission from Chicago Review Press; February 2016. Edited by Nick Soulsby. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine retailers.

Follow Nick Soulsby on Twitter @nirvanalegacy
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