Interview By Gilbert Blecken
When fanzine writer Gilbert Blecken interviewed Kurt Cobain in 1991, Nirvana were on the verge of becoming the biggest band on Planet Rock. but although the singer talked candidly about his drug use and the pressures of fame, the interview has never been published. Until now...
The following article and interview is taken from Kerrang! magazine's March 27 issue 1999. The interview is done by Gilbert Blecken after the soundcheck before the Loft club show in Berlin on November 10th. Blecken was the author of the fanzine "Freakshow," and had been a fan of Nirvana since "Bleach."
"I recognised Kurt, so I just went up to him, introduced myself and asked him if he would do an interview," Gilbert Blecken recalls eight years later. "He asked me if he could see the first issue of 'Frakshow' which had come out in January 1991, so I showed it to him and he said, 'Sure'."
The interview itself took place in the band's dressing room, with drummer Dave Grohl, bassis Krist - then calling himself Chris - Novoselic and Novoselic's girlfriend also present.
"Kurt seemed very attentive," says Blecken. "He was eager to talk. Krist was annoying - he kept trying to drag Kurt away. Dave didn't say a word."
Blecken planned to run the interview in issue two of "Freakshow." But he never actually completed the fanzine, and the interview lay gathering dust in his Berlin home.
Now, eight years after he first spokee to Kurt Cobain, Gilbert Blecken has finally agreed to reveal exactly hat was said on that chilly November night.
Gilbert Blecken: I recently read that even Ozzy Osbourne is now into "Nevermind." What do you think of having him as a fan?
Kurt Cobain: I can understand Ozzy liking us, because we have some similarities with his former band. Ozzy was also in the same mixing studio that we were in for our last record. There were a few times when we were coming towards each other and I had to move against the wall because he was stumbling past. He also asked us to go on tour with him, but we turned it down. It would have been kind of exciting, but we don't really wanna play in huge arenas supporting someone.
Blecken: No other band has been called 'the next big thing' as many times as you have recently. How do you feel about that?
Cobain: I think it's embarassing to have so many expactations of us. It's a superficial label to put on a band, because it is a big let-down if the band doesn't become the next big thing. People are putting the tag on us without really wanting to do that.
Blecken: So you're not prepared to become superstars?
Cobain: No we're not, because we're not going to be. We're prepared to destroy our career as it happens.
Blecken: That sounds a bit like the step Jane's Addiction made. Their singer, Perry farrell, told the press a year in advance that the band is going to split. Do you really want to go that far?
Cobain: If it becomes so much of a problem, it may be okay. We'd probably just break up and then reform under a different name and disguise ourselves, cos we really enjoy playing with each other.
Blecken: What I find really quite remarkable is that every time it looks like rock is finally dead, a band like you appears and makes it sound interesting again.
Cobain: That's a really flattering comment and quite surprising to me, cos I feel we sound like Black Sabbath and the Bay City Rollers. At the same time, I think it's quite hard for a band to describe themselves because they're probably the last people to realise what their influences are and who they ripped off. Most of our music is definitely written subconsciously.
Blecken: You've already mentioned the comparisons with Black Sabbath and the Bay City Rolles in your self-written abnd biography, but let's be honest - most of that bio is a joke.
Cobain: Yeah, most of it is pretty obvious. It was just that I attempted making a bio a bit different from other band's bios that we're read. Most bands are taking themselves too seriously and are also very egoistical, so we decided to make a joke out of it.
Blecken: Do you hope to maintain that way of looking at things?
Cobain: Sure, we have to. It's just weird... I've noticed that with a lot of bands you can either be anally serious, sad and depressed like Morrisey, or you can be a big joke like the Butthole Surfers. Usually it's in these two extremes, and I think we can feel comfortable in between.
Blecken: I've heard that you're also quite experienced with drugs. What was it like when you first tripped on LSD?
Cobain: I think I laughed too much. The next morning I woke up with a stomach ache because I laughed so hard.
Blecken: Which other drugs have you tried?
Cobain: I think I've tried every drug available. PCP, Quaaludes...
Blecken: Is there one drug experience you remember more than others?
Cobain: They all suck. Quaaludes was probably the worst time I've ever had on a drug because I couldn't control my balance. I didn't feel good at all - I just tried to walk and kept falling down. And then I fell asleep. That wasn't fun at all.
Blecken: Back to the music. A big difference between "Bleach" and "Nevermind" is that hard parts are now often contrasted with soft parts within your songs. Don't you like the idea of keeping a whole song trashy and more?
Cobain: Yeah, I think we're been focusing on dynamics a lot more on this record. With the "Bleach" album everything was just straight ahead and simple, and it becomes boring to play that kind of music all the time so we decided to break things down with out songs. I mean, we showed signs of doing that on "Bleach," but I think we're way more focused now with both of the elements of soft and pretty and hard and aggressive.
Blecken: Have you already found your style with "Nevermind," or could you imagine going in a totally different direction with your next album?
Cobain: Oh, definitely. The next album will be completely different. We've already started working on a completely different sound. Some of the new songs we've been writing or trying to write don't sound anything like "nevermind." They'll be a complete change, because what keeps playing music exciting is to change and experiment.
Blecken: In which direction will it change?
Cobain: It's a lot more psychedelic, and it's very abrasive and weird and stupid. And there won't be much structure to the songs. It's not as if we're going to start playing very technical jazz shit, but it'll be different. I think "Aneurysm," the B-side of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," is a good example of what we will sound like. And on the CD there is also an extra track that most people don't know about. After the 12th song there's 12 minutes of silence and then the 13th song comes on. It sounds like an abortion. That's a good example of what our next album is going to sound like.
Blecken: Is there something in particular you would like Nirvana to be remembered for?
Cobain: Writing good music, good songs. That's all I could say, cos that's more important than anything else.
Blecken: Alright, last question. Would you describe yourself as a person who would go mad without music?
Cobain: I used to think that. But now that we're playing almost every night on tour I feel like I can probably do something else eventually. If I keep going for another five years I might but myself out and not have much desire to play guitar any more. I don't know if it's like this eternal thing that I always have to do. There's so many other things I'd like to do. Sometimes I like just hanging out with my friends. I also like to write a lot, and maybe I might even wanna act in a movie or something. There are lots of things I can think of I would like to do. Maybe I might just be happy being a janitor. I don't know, I can't say at this point. I feel that way now, but I'm sure as soon as I had two months off I would like to start playing again.