Interview with Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna

Introduction: This interview with the journalist and book author Carrie Borzillo was done in late September, 2000.

Carrie is currently the editor of Allstar News, an integrated part of the popular online music store CDNow. "Carrie is responsible for all aspects of the news department and its daily content." - "Carrie has appeared on VH1, CNN, NBC's Today programme, and E! Entertainment news. In 1997 she was honoured with the Music Journalism Award. She was recognized as one of the most influential Californians in the Music Biz by BAM magazine in 1998. She has also worked for Billboard magazine for 4 years." (quote: "Eyewitness Nirvana", 2000 Carlton Books Ltd.)

In 2000 she released the book "Eyewitness Nirvana: The Day-by-Day chronicle". The book provides facts and funny stories about a ton of Nirvana concerts, and chronicles every important date of Nirvana's career; "With a day-by-day account of Nirvana's incredible career, Eyewitness Nirvana is the most complete telling of their story, not only tracking all of the band's tour dates, recording sessions, and release dates, but looking behind the scenes at after-show parties, the workings of their record label and management team and what life was like in those final months of Cobain's life."

This interview is 2000 Carrie Borzillo and The Internet Nirvana Fan Club. Below I am "NFC", using this font color and Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna is "CB", using this font color.

NFC: What exactly inspired you to write this timeline on Nirvana?
CB: Actually, the publisher came to me with the idea and asked if I wanted to do it. Nirvana is one of my favorite bands of all time and probably one of the most important bands in rock, so it was an easy answer. And, I loved the format of a timeline, because there are so many traditional biographies on Nirvana out already - and some pretty good ones - so I didn't want to repeat what was already on the shelves.

NFC: What do you think the band should put in the upcoming boxed set?
CB: I have a feeling they're putting EVERYTHING on that boxed set. Personally, I would love to hear those early recordings of Kurt just mumbling into his Aunt Mari's 4-track recorder when he was just a toddler. The early Fecal Matter tape would be great too. As for later stuff, they should add the sessions with Craig Montgomery from Brazil.

NFC: Do you plan on writing more books in the future? Any ideas?
CB: Absolutely! I really enjoyed doing this as a timeline and certain bands (like Nirvana) really lend itself to that format. And, I really enjoyed writing about a band that I'm passionate about. Other bands that I'm passionate about and that I think would be a fun read in this format would be Depeche Mode, the Cure, Guns N' Roses, Alice in Chains... But, I have no firm plans right now for the next one. It took a lot out of me to do a book like this, so I need a bit of a break. I'll start thinking seriously about a second book next year.

NFC: How "important" was the Internet as an information resource to your book? Do you believe the book would have been incomplete without the "help" from hundreds of Nirvana websites?
CB: The Internet was a huge help, especially with the tour dates. And, your site was certainly one of them! What I did was weed out the good Nirvana sites from the not-so-accurate sites. I checked the list of tour dates from the various sites against each other and found some discrepancies. I then used the master list as something to work from while I interviewed people who were at the shows, or who promoted the shows, or in some cases, who played at the shows. After that, I'd look for newspaper reviews or previews of the shows in various markets to further confirm the date. I made sure to not include dates in the book that I wasn't able to find a second source for. That's why there are probably a lot of dates missing from my book. I didn't want to take the chance of having inaccurate info in the book. As I hope you noticed, any web site that was used for researched is thanked and credited in the acknowledgments page.

NFC: What is your general opinion of the many Nirvana websites? Do you think the remaining band members (or officials) should start an official one?
CB: The ones I found most worthy are mentioned in the acknowledgments page, so that sort of answers that. Should the band members start an official one? I doubt that would happen, but it would be nice if they would fill in some of the blanks or correct wrong information that is out there.

NFC: You mention in the book that in 1985 the band, then "Fecal Matter", recorded a demo at Mari Earl's house. Then later you state that Kurt and Dale Crover record another demo at Earl's place. What convinces you that they actually recorded [at least] two demo's as "Fecal Matter"?
CB: If I'm not mistaken, that came from Mari Earl's comments in the film, "Kurt & Courtney." Yes, I do realize that this film leaves little to be desired. That is why the only information I culled from this film was the direct words out of Aunt Mari's mouth. I had no reason to believe she wouldn't be telling the truth.

NFC: Did you ever see Nirvana live? If so, what was that like?
CB: My God, Yes! I was a bit of a late bloomer with Nirvana, though. I didn't know about them until after "Nevermind" was released. I missed them the first time they played L.A., which is where I live, after the album was released because I was out of town, so the first time I saw them perform wasn't until the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, which I was covering for Billboard magazine.

The first real show I got to see was at the Forum in L.A. on Dec. 30, 1993 on the "In Utero" tour, and I thought it was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen.

NFC: From your point of view, as managing editor of All Star News, what do you think will happen when the Nirvana boxed set is released? Do you think the media's interest in the band will "resurrect" or will it just be one of those albums that is released one week and forgotten the next?
CB: I think it will sell extremely well. It's long overdue - people (fans and music industry folk alike) have been foaming at the mouth for this box set for some time.

NFC: You mention in your book under March 1, 1994 that; "The power went out momentarily during the show, so the band played an impromptu acoustic set" What exactly did they play? You know?
CB: You know, I asked Melora Creager, the cellist who played with them on these dates, and she really could not remember. Her exact words to me were, "The power went out partway through and then it came back on. We did two songs acoustically, maybe, I can't remember." But, hey, if you find out, let me know!

NFC: Under "March 25, 1994" you state that Kurt and Pat Smear rehearsed in the basement of Kurt's home. Do you have any additional information about this, such as which songs were rehearsed?
CB: I believe it might be included in the box set, but I'm not sure if it's making the final cut.

NFC: In your opinion what were the highlight(s) of Nirvana's career?
CB: If I had to pick THE highlight, it would have to be seeing them on MTV Unplugged. There's always been such emotion in their music, and particularly in Kurt's voice. But, that pain and depth of Kurt's emotions really came through acoustically on that show. It was actually pretty sad to watch, because you could see in his eyes and hear in his voice just how troubled he was. That performance just killed me, and it still does when I listen to the album.

Obviously, though I wasn't there, their first Reading performance was a highlight, as was the 92 MTV Video Music Awards performance. Earlier on, many people who I interviewed said that shows like the OK Hotel show on April 17, 1991 when they played "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the fist time was a major milestone. Earlier than that, most site the Motor Sports International Garage show on Sept. 22, 1990 as a pivotal moment in their career. God, there are just so many.

NFC: What do you think of this whole revolution with people exchanging digital music via ie. Napster, and the RIAA suing mp3.com for, like, a gazillion dollars?
CB: I can understand both sides of this issue, but I'm definitely on Metallica's side on this one. Artists should be paid for their work. Period. It doesn't matter if they already have a million dollars, or if they're just starting out. Songs should not be given away for free via the likes of Napster. I have hope that if the RIAA, Napster, mp3.com et al put their heads together, they can come up with a way to use all that the Internet has to offer in a way that is also fair to the artists.

NFC: Do you think it was fair of Courtney Love and the Nirvana camp to file a lawsuit against a site like kurtcobain.com, considering it had hardly any visitors and was non-commercial? Did it surprise you? (correction: the main reason for the lawsuit was actually "cybersquatting")
CB: I would hope that they would've tried to settle it out of court first before resorting to filing legal papers. But, I do believe that no one should be able to own another person's name for any purpose, including for a domain name. A lot of other artists, such as Don Henley of the Eagles, have fought this same battle and rightfully so. It's flattering that there are people who want to help promote these artists, but the artist should be able to use their own name for their Internet purposes first and foremost.

NFC: When interviewing people for your book, was there a particular interview that just blew your mind? I mean, did you ever think "Wow, the information this person supplied is enough to justify the whole book". How willing were people to talk about Nirvana, anyway?
CB: There were a few interviews that nearly made me cry. Hearing people like Susie Tennant talk about Kurt with such sadness almost made me feel guilty for even asking her about it in the first place. There were also a lot of off the record stuff that I was told that blew my mind. Unfortunately, I can't reveal any of that information. Off the record means off the record! I was very surprised that Danny Goldberg even agreed to do an interview in the first place - he's probably one of the most important people in Nirvana's career and in Kurt's life.

NFC: After using websites for research, what did you find to be the most common error or piece of false information available on Nirvana websites?
CB: The earlier tour dates. Those were tough. There isn't a whole hell of a lot of concrete information to go on out there, but for the most part I was very impressed with how thorough most of the sites were.

NFC: What is your opinion of Nirvana bootlegs and the whole trading scene?
CB: I think it's a cool thing. Nice community vibe. I'm not against bootlegs as long as people aren't selling them (trading is great!) and as long as it's not a bootleg from a recording session that would get in the way of an artist making money from a finished CD, which is sometimes the case with the Napster issue.

NFC: If there is something you would like to tell the Nirvana fans out there, or if there is something important you forgot to include in your book, you may use this space to convey it :)
CB: I'm sure there are lots of important things I forgot in the book ;-) Even if I was able to include every bit of information about Nirvana in the book, I still had a word count to abide by per the publisher's request. I just hope people enjoy the book and forgive any mistakes.

For more information about Carrie's book, please check the August 15, 2000 story in the news section.

Carrie Borzillo