Interview with Kurt Cobain
In a quiet room off of Eban Ritchie's Suite at the Hotel Sorrento, Kurt Cobain lovingly holds his baby, Frances Bean Cobain. He sits on a couch, sweat beading on his face. He looks fragile, sensitive and intense. He stares right at me when I talk. It's the Kurt Cobain stare that is checking out my authenticity.
Jim: Tell me about Aberdeen. That's where you grew up, right?
Kurt: Aberdeen, it's a coastal town about 100 miles away from Seattle. It's a really small place. A very small community with a lot of people who have very small minds. Basically if you're not prepared to join the logging industry, you're going to be beaten up or run out of town.
Jim: And that's what happened to you?
Kurt: Yeah, I was run out of town. They chased me up to the castle of Aberdeen with torches. Just like the Frankenstein monster. And I got away in a hot air balloon. And I came here to Seattle.
Jim: Is this metaphor or literal reality?
Kurt: It's a wet dream.
Jim: Was there an incident that really pushed the button that got you and the town at loggerheads, as it were?
Kurt: Well, what started the witch hunt was I decided to take some acid one evening and spray paint "queer" on the sides of four by four trucks, the local rednecks's trucks. And so one of them saw me from his window and started chasing me and started screaming "There's the queer vandal!" I'd been doing it for awhile. But that night I decided to really go for it and do a lot, a lot of vandalism. So they caught me and chased me around.
Jim: The cops caught you or just some of the local toughs?
Kurt: The locals. The local toughs, right. (laughs)
Jim: And did they know who you were?
Kurt: No. Just that crazy skinny kid who never went to school. Who was probably gay.
Jim: Well, are you?
Kurt: If I wasn't attracted to Courtney I'd be a bisexual.
Courtney: Faggot! (Laughter)
Jim: So they ran you out of town.
Jim: Did you ever go back?
Kurt: Well, um, every time I've gone back to Aberdeen lately I've felt a big threat. Actually, Chris was beaten up at a Denny's one night. Some locals were giving him the eye and I don't think it was sexual. They started beating him up in the men's room saying, "Some local hero you are." Next thing he remembers he was dancing on a table.
Jim: So you got run out of town because you went up against the logging interests, the logging mentality, or your town.
Kurt: I was the guy who screamed, "Save the spotted owl!" Kurt smiles.
Jim: You actually did say it one time somewhere?
Kurt: Yeah, I did, at school.
Jim: At school? And the loggers sons and daughters came after you with chainsaws?
Kurt: No, chisels. They weren't advanced.
Jim: Okay, so they ran you out. Where'd you go first?
Kurt: I went to Olympia and became a hippie.
Jim: You didn't go to Evergreen [College].
Kurt: No, I didn't, but I hung out with a lot of friends from there. . .
Courtney: He couldn't afford it.
Kurt: I couldn't afford it. I was a janitor.
Jim: Where were you a janitor?
Kurt: I was a janitor at Lemons Janitorial Service.
Jim: Wonderful, wonderful. Looking back at Aberdeen, do you have a place that was the quintessential Aberdeen place for you?
Kurt: The bridge of Aberdeen going over to the south side of Aberdeen. I used to hang out with some bums there and share Thunderbird wine with them underneath the bridge.
Jim: Would they recognize you if you went back there today?
Kurt: Oh, absolutely, if they're still alive. There's a little tent bum community there. They live in tents and just drink wine and roast marshmallows.
Jim: And hang out under the bridge.
Jim: Is there a Seattle scene or is it all a myth?
Kurt: Yeah, but it's in Portland.
Jim: The Seattle scene's in Portland?
Kurt: Yeah. (Laughter from Kurt and Jim) It started with The Wipers in 1977. It's a real dirty, grungy place.
Courtney: Seattle is one of America's cleanest cities.
Kurt: Right, there's nothing grungy about it at all. But Portland is extremely grungy. It's a real industrial, grey, dark town.
Jim: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Kurt: A janitor.
Jim: Achieve Nirvana through janitorial services?
Kurt: The power of Lysol.
Jim: From a janitorial perspective, what is grunge?
Kurt: It's a fine mixture of cleaning solvents, not to be used in the toilet. It doesn't go well with porcelain. When I was a janitor I used to work with these guys Rocky and Bullwinkle. They'd clean toilet bowls with their bare hands and then eat their lunch without washing their hands. They were very grungy.
Jim: From a Kurt Cobain musical perspective what is grunge?
Kurt: It's a fine mixture of hygiene paraphernalia - bleach, Lysol, bubblegum-flavored toothpaste, isopropyl rubbing alcohol 90%, hand and body lotion, and conditioning shampoo.
Jim: What's your favorite food?
Kurt: My favorite food is water and rice.
Jim: Heard of this band called Nirvana?
Kurt: Yeah, they're English, they're British. They were a hot group from the 60's and we recently had to give them about $200,000 for using their name. And we recently gave $100,000 to a local Christian band named Nirvana in Orange County. We had to go to court over it. Now we have to call ourselves Nirvana UK anytime we play L.A.
Jim: How would you describe Dave Grohl?
Kurt: Dave is in really good shape although he smokes two packs of cigarettes a day.
Jim: Chris Novoselic?
Kurt: Chris is the horror of the stars. He has no shame whatsoever in carousing with the likes of Wynona Ryder and Johnny Depp.
Jim: And Kurt Cobain?
Kurt: Fuck him, he complains too much.
Jim: Do you believe in reincarnation?
Kurt: If you're really a mean person you're going to come back as a fly and eat poop. You'll come back as a fly or Matt Lukin.
Jim: What would you title your autobiography?
Kurt: I Was Not Thinking, by Kurt Cobain.
Jim: Final messages for the youth of America?
Kurt: I'm bowing down gracefully and taking off my crown and giving it over to Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. He's now the representative of the youth of America.
Jim: Is there a changing of the guard now?
Jim: What caused this, because you're a family man and you're embracing family values?
Kurt: Because he stole my look ... And he uses it better than I.