Krist Novoselic Reflects on Nirvana, Recording In Utero Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 10.07.2013
Bassist looks back on the band and more...
Krist Novoselic recently spoke with Rolling Stone about the twentieth anniversary of Nirvana's In Utero and more. Check out the highlights:
On reflecting back on the music: "I listened to a lot of Nirvana lately. There is a lot of baggage that comes with it. It brings back a lot of memories – good memories, painful memories. But it's good music – good rock music."
On the fragile state of the band in 1992: "Things were not like they used to be. But one thing we liked to do – we liked to play music together. And that's what it was all about anyway. We were a band. We did those Laundry Room sessions [on the In Utero reissue] with Barrett Jones, at his house. We never had our own rehearsal studio. We were always bumming studio time from the Posies or somebody. We rehearsed on Bainbridge Island, in Tacoma, in Seattle, wherever we could find a spot. Barrett had a multi-track recorder. If we had something like that, there would have been so much more music."
On how song ideas came into rehearsal: "There were songs that Kurt would woodshed. He would come in with it, and we would work it out, build it up. There were songs that were made up on the spot, coming out of jams, which took a few rehearsals to come together. But they would find form. That was another thing with Kurt – he could have a riff, but then he was so good at vocal phrasing. He would usually write the lyrics at the last minute. But he was so good at vocal phrasing [in rehearsals]. And voilà – you have a song. Once we settled on an arrangement, we never changed anything. You can see that in different versions of songs we recorded [live] over the years. We never changed the arrangement. Once it was done, it was done: 'Let's play it.'"
On Nirvana being called 'Kurt's band': "That's totally fair, totally correct...Sure, I did my thing. I knew what I wanted to do with the band. [Pauses] Can I tell you a story now? I think I'm answering your question. Dave, Pat and I hadn't played together for 20 years, until last year, when we were in the room with Paul McCartney, of all people [for the session in Grohl's film, Sound City]. I'm like, "Oh, my God." I love the man. And he's a left-handed guitar player, like Kurt. He's playing this mean slide. I start playing, trying to catch the groove, in drop-D tuning with the old Rat distortion pedal to get some growl in there. Dave's playing, there's Pat. Paul shoots this riff at me, I pick it up. I shoot something back at him, he picks it up. All of a sudden, this song comes together ["Cut Me Some Slack"]. It came together in an hour. I looked at Dave and Pat and kind of forgot about Paul. I was like, "We haven't done this in so long." It's like we walked out that door 20 years ago, we walked back in and it was all still there. In the film, when Paul says, "I didn't know I was in the middle of a Nirvana reunion . . . " [Grins]"
On people reading clues into Kurt's music: "I never interpreted any of his songs. Kurt never did. He was cagey about his lyrics. You could read into them anything you want. I get these stories from people: "Man, when I was in recovery, I was listening to Nirvana every day, and it helped me get through." That's great. I'm not going to tell you what the music means. Kurt – I would call him the Windmill. I told him that. I'd go, "Did you hear what you just said? You contradicted what you said a minute ago." He'd laugh at himself, because he knew it. He would be like that. He wanted to be a rock star – and he hated it."
On Cobain's writing style: "Kurt said that he never liked literal things. He liked cryptic things. He would cut out pictures of meat from grocery-store fliers, then paste these orchids on them. What does it mean? What is he trying to say? And all this stuff on [In Utero] about the body – there was something about anatomy. He really liked that. You look at his art – there are these people, and they're all weird, like mutants. And dolls – creepy dolls."
On whether he explained any of it: "Oh, no, never. He would just laugh. He knew he'd made something cool, and he'd be happy about it. He would think he was a blowhard if he explained stuff. Maybe he just liked to keep people guessing. [Pauses] He'd have to tell you. I don't know."
On whether Cobain tried to "de-prettify" the music: "That was the aesthetic, like the beautiful orchids, and then there's this raw meat around them. It's the same thing. "Dumb" is a beautiful song. "All Apologies" is really nice. And then there are songs like "Milk It" that are completely wicked. There is something for everybody on that record. Although it's not for everybody...It is a haunting record. I am not haunted by it. But there is imagery on there that I would never express to people. I would blow it if I said, "This song means that." I would rob people of their imaginations. And I would betray Kurt."