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1993.MM.DD - Excerpts from various interviews with members of Nirvana

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1993.MM.DD - Excerpts from various interviews with members of Nirvana Empty 1993.MM.DD - Excerpts from various interviews with members of Nirvana

Post by Blackstar on Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:09 pm

The Advocate Magazine, February 1993:
 
[...]
 
But even as Nirvana went from playing club dates to selling out 40,000-seat arenas, the band still didn't play by the rules. They spurned an offer to tour with Guns N' Roses, further fueling already rampant industry rumors that Cobain and his then pregnant wife had a big problem with heroin. Last April, when Rolling Stone put the band on its cover, Cobain showed up for the photo session in a T-shirt that read CORPORATE MAGAZINES STILL SUCK. And an unflattering profile of the Cobains in September's Vanity Fair dropped the two into the world of glossy journalism with a jolt when Love confirmed to writer Lynn Hirschberg that she and Cobain were indeed using heroin in the early stages on her pregnancy.
 
While not denying the heroin use, both Cobain and Love insist that they have been misquoted and misunderstood. They maintain that the interview was given early in the year, and at the time the article appeard (the same month Love gave birth to Frances), both had been clean for several months. "When I first talked to her [Hirschberg], I had just found out that I was pregnant, and I had done some drugs in the beginning of my pregnancy, and that's what I told her," says Love.
 
Equally misunderstood, to Cobain, is Nirvana itself-particularly the fact that the band appeals to many of the same hard rock fans who pack Guns N' Roses concerts. But while Axl Rose sang derisively of "immigrants and faggots" in his song "One in a Million," Cobain closed his song "Stay Away" by howling "God is gay!" and Nirvana defiantly cavorted in dresses in the video of their hit single "In Bloom." Last year Nirvana traveled to Oregon to perform at a benefit opposing Measure 9, a statewide ordinance that would have amended the state constitution to prohibit protections for gays and lesbians. And when they appeard on Saturday Night Live, Cobain and Novoselic made a point of kissing on-camera.
 
[...]
 
-You're here in this hotel room. Can you go out?
 
Yeah. The other night we went shopping at a second-hand store & bought some fuzzy sweaters & some grungewear.
 
-Real grungewear, not the designer kind?
 
Not Perry Ellis. [Laughs] We were driving around in our Volvo, after buying some grungewear & we realized that we're not necessarily as big as Guns N' Roses, but we're as popular as them, and we still don't have bodyguards. We still go shopping, we still go to movies and carry on with our lives.
 
I've always been a paranoid person by nature anyhow, & now I have all these people so concerned with what I say and what I do at all times that it's really hard for me to deal with that. I'm dealing with it a lot better than I would have expected. If I could have predicted what was going to happen to me a few years ago, I definitely wouldn't have opted for this kind of a life-style.
 
 
[...]
 
-I read the liner notes you wrote on Incesticide. I've never seen somebody on a major label say, "If you're a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, we don't want you to buy our records."
 
That's been the biggest problem that I've had being in this band. I know there are those people out in the audience, and there's not much I can do about it. I can talk about those issues in interviews-I think it's pretty obvious that we're against the homophobes and the sexists and the racists, but when "Teen Spirit" first came out, mainstream audiences were under the assumption that we were just like Guns N' Roses.
 
Then our opinions started showing up in interviews. And then things like Chris and I kissing on Saturday Night Live. We weren't trying to be subversive or punk rock; we were just doing something insane and stupid at the last minute. I think now that our opinions our out in the open, a lot of kids who bought our record regret knowing anything about us. [Laughs]
 
There is a war going on in the high schools now between Nirvana kids and Guns N' Roses kids. It's really cool. I'm really proud to be a part of that, because when I was in high school, I dressed like a punk rocker and people would scream "Devo!" at me-because Devo infiltrated the mainstream. Out of all the bands who came fromt he underground and actually made it in the mainstream, Devo is the most subversive and challenging of all. They're just awesome. I love them.
 
-Maybe there'll be a Devo revival soon, like the Village People revival.
 
I saw the Village People two years ago in Seattle! They were so cool. They still had the same costumes.
 
-Is there anything about Guns N' Roses' music you like?
 
I can't think of a damn thing. I can't even waste my time on that band, because they're so obviously pathetic and untalented. I used to think that everything in the mainstrteam pop world was crap, but now that some underground bands have been signed with majors, I take Guns N' Roses as more of an offense. I have to look into it more: They're really talentless people, and they write crap music, and they're the most popular rock band on the earth right now. I can't believe it.
 
-Didn't Axl Rose say something nasty to you at the MTV Video Music Awards in September?
 
They actually tried to beat us up. Courtney and I were with the baby in the eating area backstage, and Axl walked by. So Courtney yelled, "Axl! Axl, come over here!" We just wanted to say hi to him--we think he's a joke, but we just wanted to say something to him. So I said, "Will you be the godfather of our child?" I don't know what had happened before that to piss him off, but he took his aggressions out on us and began screaming bloody murder.
 
These were his words: "You shut your bitch up, or I'm taking you down to the pavement." [laughs] Everyone around us just burst out into tears of laughter. She wasn't even saying anything mean, you know? So I turned to Courtney and said, "Shut up, bitch!" And everyone laughed and he left. So I guess I did what he wanted me to do--be a man. [laughs]
 
-Does he remind you of guys you went to high school with?
 
Absolutely. Really confused, fucked-up guys. There's not much hope for them.
 
-When he was singing about "immigrants and faggots," people were excusing it by saying, "Well, he's from Indiana-"
 
Oh, well, that's OK then. [Laughs] Insane. Later, after we played our show and were walking back to our trailer, the Guns N' Roses entourage came walking toward us. They have at least 50 bodyguards apiece: huge, gigantic, brain-dead oafs ready to kill for Axl at all times. [Laughs] They didn't see me, but they surrounded Chris, and Duff [McKagan of Guns N' Roses] wanted to beat Chris up, and the bodyguards started pushing Chris around. He finally escaped, but throughout the rest of the evening, there was a big threat of either Guns N' Roses themselves or their goons beating us up. We had to hide out.
 
Since then, every time Axl has played a show he's said some comment about me and Courtney. When he was in Seattle, he said "Nirvana would rather stay home and shoot drugs with their bitch wives than tour with us." [Laughs] That's why there's this big feud in most of the high schools. It's hilarious. He is insane, though. I was scared. I couldn't possibly beat him up; I know he would beat me up if he had the chance.
 
-How do you feel about Guns N' Roses fans coming to see you?
 
Well, when we played that No on 9 benefit in Portland, I said something about Guns N' Roses. Nothing nasty-I think I said, "And now, for our next song, 'Sweet Child o' Mine.'" But some kid jumped onstage and said, "Hey, man, Guns N' Roses plays awesome music, and Nirvana plays awesome music. Let's just get along and work things out, man!"
 
And I just couldn't help but say, "No, kid, you're really wrong. Those people are total sexist jerks, and the reason we're playing this show is to fight homophobia in a real small way. The guy is a fucking sexist and a racist and a homophobe, and you can't be on his side and be on our side. I’m sorry that I have to divide this up like this, but it's something you can't ignore. And besides they can't write good music." [Laughs]
 
-You know, you were probably taking money from people who were voting yes on 9-but they really wanted to see Nirvana.
 
[Laughs] Right! Chris went to a Guns N' Roses concert when they played here with Metallica a couple of months ago, and he went backstage, and there were these two bimbo girls who looked like they walked out of a Warrant video. They were sitting on the couch in hopes of sucking Axl's dick or something, and one of them said, "Chris, we saw you at that No on 9 benefit! We're voting yes on 9! You kissed Kurt on the lips! That was disgusting!" [Laughs] To know that we affect people like that-it's kind of funny. The sad thing is that there's no penetrating them. After all that, after all the things those girls had seen us do, that was the one thing that sticks in their minds.
 
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***
 
The Observer, August 15, 1993:
 
[...]
 
Jon Savage: Maybe this could be a good time to address some of the rumours that have plagues you. When Nevermind hit, there were reports that you were a narcoleptic.
 
Kurt Cobain: No, no... that was just a story I made up to explain why I slept so much. I used to find myself sleeping a lot before shows. A lot of times the backstage area is such a gross scene, I don't want to talk to anybody. So I just fall asleep. There are so many people that we know now, so many friends and stuff that I can ask them to leave. I don't want to act like Axl Rose and have my own bus or my own back room area.
 
Jon Savage: Speaking of Axl, what is the story behind your altercation with him backstage at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards?
 
Kurt Cobain: Well, apparently Axl was in a really bad mood. Something set him off, probably just minutes before our encounter with him. We were in the food tent and I was holding my daughter, Frances, and he came strutting by five of his huge bodyguards and a person with a movie camera. Courtney jokingly screamed out at him, "Axl, will you be the godfather of our child?". Everyone laughed. We had a few friends around us, and he just stopped dead in his tracks and started screaming all these abusive words at us. He told me to shit my bitch up, so I looked over at Courtney and said, "Shut up, bitch, heh!". Everybody started howling with laughter and Axl just kind of blushed and went away. Afterward, we heard that Duff [McKagan, GNR bassist] wanted to beat Kris up.
 
Jon Savage: I thought it was great when Kris hit his head with the bass at the end of your performance that evening. You're all trying to be cool and smash up your instruments, and he really fucked it up - it's really good!
 
Kurt Cobain: That's happened so many times.
 
Jon Savage: An impressive finale, and you end up looking really stupid, but that's great too.
 
Kurt Cobain: It was so expected, you know? Should we just walk off stage, or should we break our equipment again? We went through so many emotions that day, because up until just minutes before we played, we weren't sure we were going to go on. We wanted to play Rape Me, and MTV wouldn't let us. They were going to replace us if we didn't play Teen Spirit. We compromised and ended up playing Lithium. I spat on Axl's keyboard when we were sitting on the stage. It was either that or beat him up. We're down on this platform that brought us up hydraulically, you know? I saw this piano there, and I just had to take this opportunity and spit big goobers all over his keyboards. I hope he didn't get it off in time.
 
[...]
 
Jon Savage: What have been the worst temptations engendered by your success?
 
Kurt Cobain: Nothing I can think of, except Lollapalooza. They offered us a guarantee of like six million dollars, and that's way more money than... We're going to break up even on this tour because we play theaters, and the productions is so expensive at this level. But other than that, I've never thought of the Guns N' Roses, Metallica and U2 offers as any kind of legitimate offer. They were just never a reality for me.
 
[...]
 
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***
 
Canal+, rec. August 11, 1993
 
[...]
 
Krist: No, we didn't call him "gay", 'cause I don't think we'd ever use "gay" as a derogatory term, you know what I mean? Ummm, it's weird, there's some kind of weird feud that started… I think Axl started talking some nonsense onstage in Florida, he said some mean things and then, uh… we were at the MTV Video Music Awards and Kurt & Courtney said something to him… like, Kurt was holding their baby and Courtney said, like, "Axl, will you be the Godfather? You can be the Godfather!" He got mad and told them to shut up. One thing led to another, it was really silly and then, uh… we said some nasty things about him at a show in Portland, Oregon. It was a benefit show for the No On 9 - this measure that was gonna discriminate against homosexuals in Oregon - some fascist law, you know what I mean? Franco would've been proud! And then what happened? And then he said some bad stuff about us onstage in Seattle, but he got booed, because he couldn't get away with that in our town! And we haven't heard anything else from him. It's basically really silly stuff, y'know? I think it's kinda funny and if I can instigate more stuff, I will, just for heck of it! I'd like to meet him, I met him once briefly, y'know "Hi, how are you?" and that's it, but I'd like to meet with him and maybe discuss things, resolve a few things, maybe engage in some sort of dialogue. Maybe we can have some negotiations mediated by David Geffen in his office, y'know? We'll have our list of demands and they'll have their list of demands, and through the process of elimination we'll find common ground and… it'll probably hold some Sarajevo ceasefire, but it'll be worth a try [laughs]
 
[...]
 
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***
 
 
OOR Magazine, September 4, 1993:
 
[...]
 
vdB: "How do you see the future of Nirvana? Continuation of the craziness, putting up with the media digging in your private lives, or rather a return to the margin, where, according to a lot of people, Nirvana belongs?"
 
Grohl: "For me, Nirvana doesn't have to become bigger. I'm afraid our music won't have the same effect in stadiums with 60,000 people anyway. It's deadly for the intimacy and the energy. I would have no problem with us standing in clubs like Paradiso [a pretty big disco in the Netherlands]. And as for the lack of privacy, you get used to that. As soon as Americans have a hunch that they can make money off you, they will start digging. Or write books on you. At a given moment, you KNOW all that sudden interest in your band has only got to do with one thing: money. Especially with those manager types and 'sudden' friends. But if you pay too much attention to it, and get concerned about it, you will go nuts. Look at someone like Axl Rose. Although, he probably wanted to be a rock star all his life, so now he is one, he plays his part okay. He has a model for a wife, many cars, a couple of villa's..."
 
vdB: "And you don't?"
 
Grohl: "Of course, but nobody knows! No, we don't play along with that sort of crap. Besides, where are you in ten years then? How's Axl Rose in ten years? He's already a parody of himself."
 
[...]
 
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***
 
Musician, October 1993:
 
Kurt Cobain has found that being a professional rock musician is not quite what he imagined when he was banging out his raunchy punk rock songs all alone is his bedroom in Aberdeen, Washington. "It's become a job, whether I like it or not," he says. "It's something that I love doing and would always want to do, but I have to be honest; I don't enjoy it nearly as much as I used to when I was practicing every night, imagining what it would be like. It's nothing like what it was like the first couple of years of actually playing front of a few people, loading up the van and going to a rock show to actually play. The privilege of that just can’t be reproduced after doing it for 10 years. The same feeling is not there."
The first round of more than 25 hours of interviews with Kurt took place in February. They began very late at night, after Kurt would return from rehearsals for Nirvana’s new album, In Utero, lasting until four or five in the morning.
 
[...]
 
Pearl Jam had assumed the look and some of the sound of "grunge rock," or just enough to ride the commercial wave. In the January 1992 issue of Musician, Kurt had declared that the members of Pearl Jam were going to be "the ones responsible for this corporate, alternative and cock-rock fusion." "I would love to be erased from my association with that band," Kurt said of Pearl Jam in Rolling Stone. "I do feel a duty to warn the kids about false music that’s claiming to be underground or alternative. They’re just jumping on the alternative bandwagon."
 
But by that time, he had decided to at least forgive Pearl Jam’s fey but immensely likable singer, Eddie Vedder. "I later found out that Eddie basically found himself in this position," says Kurt. "He never claimed to be anybody who supports any kind of punk ideals in the first place."
 
Vedder was standing around the backstage area at the MTV Awards show when out of the blue, Courtney walked up to him and slow-danced with him as Eric Clapton played the elegiac "Tears in Heaven." Kurt walked over and butted in. "I stared into his eyes and told him that I thought he was a respectable human," Kurt says. "And I did tell him straight out that I still think his band sucks. I said, ‘After watching you perform, I realized that you are a person that does have some passion.’ It’s not a fully contrived thing. There are plenty of other more evil people out in the world than him and he doesn’t deserve to be scapegoated like that."
 
Which is where Axl Rose comes in.
 
Backstage, Courtney spotted Rose and called him over to where they were sitting with Frances. "Axl, Axl!" she said. "Will you be the godfather of our child?" With several bodyguards looming behind him, Rose leaned over, his face reddening beneath a thick layer of makeup, and pointed his finger in Kurt’s face. "You shut your bitch up or I’m taking you down to the pavement!" he screeched. The Nirvana entourage exploded in laughter, except for Kurt, who made as if he was about to hand Frances to Courtney so he could stand up to Rose. But instead he glared at Courtney and said, "Shut up, bitch!" and they all exploded some more.
 
Rose’s then-girlfriend Stephanie Seymour broke an awkward silence by innocently asking Courtney, "Are you a model?"
 
"No," replied Courtney. "Are you a brain surgeon?"
 
When the band returned to their trailer, waiting for them was the formidable Guns N’ Roses entourage, veritable sides of beef. Kurt dashed into the trailer to make sure Frances was all right while Chris was surrounded. They started pushing him around. Guns bassist Duff McKagan wanted to personally beat Chris up, but a crowd began to gather and the confrontation dissolved.
 
Perhaps the enmity comes from the fact that the two bands are competing for roughly the same vast audience of frustrated, damaged kids. "I don’t feel like I’m competing at all," Kurt says. "I’ve said in public enough times that I don’t give a fuck about his audience." But Kurt and Rose hate each other with an almost brotherly intensity, as if they’re flip sides of the same coin. "We do come from the same kind of background," Kurt says. "We come from small towns and we’ve been surrounded by a lot of sexism and racism most of our lives. But our internal struggles are pretty different. I feel like I’ve allowed myself to open my mind to a lot more things than he has.
 
"His role has been played for years," says Kurt. "Ever since the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll, there’s been an Axl Rose. And it’s just boring, it’s totally boring to me. Why it’s such a fresh and new thing in his eyes is obviously because it’s happening to him personally and he’s such an egotistical person that he thinks that the whole world owes him something."
 
Still, Kurt admits Nirvana could learn a thing or two from Guns N’ Roses. "They fuck things up and then they sit back and look at what they fucked up and then try to figure out how they can fix it," he says, "whereas we fuck things up and just dwell on it and make it even worse.
 
[...]
 
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***
 
Rolling Stone, October 25, 1993:
 
[...]
 
KC: [Long pause] I used to read the mail a lot, and I used to be really involved with it. But I've been so busy with this record, the video, the tour, that I haven't even bothered to look at a single letter, and I feel really bad about it. I haven't even been able to come up with enough energy to put out our fanzine, which was one of the things we were going to do to combat all the bad press, just to be able to show a more realistic side of the band.
 
But it's really hard. I have to admit I've found myself doing the same things that a lot of other rock stars do or are forced to do. Which is not being able to respond to mail, not being able to keep up on current music, and I'm pretty much locked away a lot. The outside world is pretty foreign to me.
 
I feel very, very lucky to be able to go out to a club. Just the other night, we had a night off in Kansas City, Mo., and Pat [Smear] and I had no idea where we were or where to go. So we called up the local college radio station and asked them what was going on. And they didn't know! So we happened to call this bar, and the Treepeople from Seattle were playing.
 
And it turns out I met three really, really nice people there, totally cool kids that were in bands. I really had a good time with them all night. I invited them back to the hotel. They stayed there. I ordered room service them. I probably went overboard, trying to be accommodating. But it was really great to know that I can still do that, that I can still find friends.
 
And I didn't think that would be possible. A few years ago, were in Detroit, playing at this club, and about 10 people showed up. And next door, there was this bar, and Axl Rose came in with 10 or 15 bodyguards. It was this huge extravaganza; all these people were fawning over him. If he'd just walked in by himself, it would have been no big deal. But he wanted that. You create attention to attract attention.
 
[...]
 
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