NFC: Why have MTV still not broadcast the complete Nirvana Unplugged?
Alex: Obviously I've been thinking about the show a lot this past week.
[This was written on April 10]. It was great to watch it again. It's been
a while. The songs were originally cut due to time constraints. On a lot of
Unplugged's, we tape extra songs to give the artists and myself some options
in case something didn't come out right. In this case, all the performances
were solid, so Kurt and I made the decision on what we thought the best show
would be. I knew all the Meat Puppet songs couldn't make it; at the time 2
seemed like plenty. Kurt decided which two should stay. As for "Something in
the way", I think it was my call to leave that one out in favor of one of the
other songs ... I can't quite remember which. As silly as it sounds, sometimes
the length of a song plays into it ... we are locked into time constraints due
to commercial breaks and stuff. As for airing those songs, I always hoped we'd
do a Nirvana unplugged home video or DVD where we could include all the additional
footage. To add those 2 songs to the show would mean we'd need to drop two songs,
and I'd rather live with one version of the show on air. Off air however (CD/ home
video/ DVD) I would love to see all the footage released, including some of that
great 'making of' footage used in the Bare Witness special. That's more up to
the label and management as to if or when a home video would be made available.
Another option is to see if we could stream those two songs at mtv.com the next
time we air the show.
NFC: The rehearsals on November 17, 1993 - were these caught on tape?
Do you remember any particular funny moment from this rehearsal?
Alex: The only rehearsals caught on tape were the day of [the] show at Sony.
The band was on the road prior to that. Rehearsals were pretty uneventful.
NFC: What do you think Kurt and the band thought of their own performance?
Do you think they realized how "special" it was?
Alex: After the set, I tried to talk the band into doing another song as an
encore. I didn't really care which, I just wanted more. I was directed by
my bosses to try to get a hit from them as the set list leaned toward the
obscure. Chris and Grohl were into it, but Kurt felt like he was done. I think
at that moment he realized that this was amazing and not to fuck with it.
NFC: Do you think the band were nervous about doing an entire set Unplugged ?
Alex: Kurt was slightly nervous. Dave wasn't.
NFC: You said in the Bare Witness special that the show had been plotted out
very carefully. Did the band do this? I mean, did they control everything from
which songs they'd play, to how the stage would look ... etc. ?
Alex: I think what I meant was the set list. It seemed to have an internal logic
to it, all building up to the Leadbelly song. They did that. The set was mutual;
I met with Kurt and showed him some drawings. The lillies were his idea. We just
ran with it.
"Of all the emotions and images that linger from this broadcast, a few stand out. The most
striking is a picture that will be forever etched in the collective memory of Unplugged. During
the band's closing cover of Leadbelly's 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night,' Kurt was hushed, almost
whispering, before he finally unleashed the full power of his voice. The entire evening had seemed
to build to this moment, and when it came, Kurt sighed, almost to catch his breath, before he let
out every last ounce of energy in one scream. Everything else stopped. Along with Michael Stipe's
performance on R.E.M.'s 'Fall on Me,' it was one of the two most powerful moments to have been
broadcast on Unplugged." (source: the
MTV Unplugged book, courtesy MTV Online.)
NFC: Looking back, is there anything concerning your production of Nirvana's
Unplugged that you wish you'd done differently ?
Alex: I wished we'd done an extensive interview with the band. MTV News caught
Chris [Novoselic] for a few minutes, but I think that's it.
NFC: Is there a special moment from your experience with producing Nirvana's
unplugged that you'd like to share?
Alex: After the show, I brought the band into the control room to watch back
some tape with the director and myself. There was a wonderful feeling in the
room - everyone was really happy with what they were seeing and hearing. It's
a really rewarding experience. I'll never forget Kurt asking Beth (the director)
to try to put a shot of him smiling in the show. He said he'd been accused of
not smiling and wanted us to help him out. Look at the shot at the end of the
first song ... he got his wish.
NFC: Have you produced any other Unplugged shows for MTV? If so, how was that
compared to doing Nirvana's show?
Alex: Actually, I've produced all of them. The one thing I will say that stands
out regarding Nirvana is that there were no re-takes. On 90% of the Unplugged's,
we'll need to do at least one song over for whatever reason. They were happy with
the first take of everything, so the taping is remarkably similar to the cd.
NFC: Is there any chance, you think, MTV would ask the Foo Fighters to do an unplugged
show sometime? They've proven on Howard Stern, at the 2 Meter Sessions etc. that they
are great acoustic.
Alex: I would love to, but at the moment the [Unplugged] series is on hold. We shot
Alanis [Morissette] last fall, but there are no plans to do another any time soon.
NFC: What is your general opinion of the Nirvana websites? (If you've seen any of
them that is!)
Alex: Never seen one, but I think they're great.