One of the first ever articles about Nirvana
By Dawn Anderson.
Nirvanaís head guru Kurdt Kobain lives in Olympia now, but he first began crunching out Melvins/Soundgarden style riffs in the town that time forgot, learning everything he knows by watching the Melvins practice. Endlessly.
"Iíve seen hundreds of Melvins practices," Kurdt recalls. I drove their van on tour. Everybody hated them, by the way. And me and Matt [the Melvinsí old bassist] even used the same calling card; itís almost like we were married."
Nirvana, consisting of Kurdt on guitar and vocals, Chris Noeoselic on bass and Chad Channing on drums, is still a young band, but theyíre fast on their way to becoming Buddhas, or at least Bodhisattvas, of the Northwest pain-rock circuit.
Since some people seem to think Backlash is a consumer guide (what a novel idea!), itís probably only fair to inform you that if you didnít like the Melvins, or if you did like the Melvins but think lead-belly music has run its course, you wonít like Nirvana. But itís also important to stress that this is not a clone band. The groupís already way ahead of most mortals in the songwriting department and, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, I honestly believe that with enough practice, Nirvana could become.... better than the Melvins!
"Our biggest fear at the beginning was that people might think we were a Melvins rip-off," Kurdt admits. Yet the association has probably also worked to the bandís advantage. Nirvana recorded an ear-splitting demo tape which immediately had every noise addict in town flapping his lips over the next great white hope of grunge... and it probably didnít hurt that Melvin Dale was sitting in on drums (this was before Chad joined).
The band played its first gig as Nirvana at a Sub Pop Sunday at the Vogue. They werenít ready.
"We were uptight," recalls Kurdt. "It just didnít seem like a real show. We felt like we were being judged; it was like everyone shouldíve had score cards. Plus I was sick. I puked that day. Thatís a good excuse."
"We already had songs on the radio," adds Chris (KCMU has been playing "Paper Cuts"). "Everyone was already talking about us. There was a lot of pressure."
Unfortunately, Kurdtís nervousness was apparent on stage that night, but Iíve seen them twice since and theyíve gotten tighter each time. Theyíre becoming the kind of band that can turn an entire audience into zombie pod people by their sheer heaviness (this is a compliment).
My only complaint is that Kurdt still canít seem to work up as much vocal finesse as he does on tape, since heís gotta play lead guitar and scream at the same time. But heíll work it out. In the meantime, look for the bandís upcoming Sub Pop single, featuring one original and a cover of Shocking Blueís "Love Buzz."
And keep your ears tuned to Aberdeen, because idle towns are the Devilís workshop.