State of Nirvana

By KURT ST. THOMAS  |  March 28, 2007

From the interview, one also senses a harmony among the three, rather than merely the voice of Kurt Cobain. St. Thomas points out, “When I looked at the transcript later, what amazed me was how consistent their answers were. I would ask each of them the same question, and they would all answer the same way. I couldn’t believe how much on the same wavelength they were.”

So, obviously, you guys are going to make some real money now. But it doesn’t seem like you’ve changed since the last time I saw you.
Kurt Cobain:
Yeah, we haven’t even changed our clothes.

Isn’t it expensive to keep smashing your guitars?
Normally only the neck will break, so I’m able to keep the body for a few more times. We just put necks on the bodies.

But you never smash any Fender Mustangs, do you?
Cobain: Yes I do. Not on purpose though. I’ve smashed three Mustangs. They’re my favorite guitars, I love them, and they’re kind of hard to find, especially in the left-handed version. The last one I broke was in Dallas, and I’m not even going to elaborate on what happened that night. It’s too embarrassing. Let’s just say alcohol and I don’t agree with each other. But I definitely regret breaking that guitar. I tried to baby it as long as I could, but it didn’t work.

So what happens? Something inside makes you feel like this is the moment, and you’ve got to smash it?
Cobain: Yeah. For the first couple of years that we started smashing our equipment it was out of frustration, because I felt that we weren’t playing very good. So I’d get mad and throw a rock-star temper tantrum. Just break things to cool myself off. It’s really not a very wise form of rehabilitation, but it worked. Now it’s just kind of an excuse to not do an encore. I don’t know. It’s just kind of a climax. People expect it. Give the kids what they want — plus I have an endorsement now.

You do? With Fender?
Cobain: Yeah, with Fender. So I can buy guitars at half-price. I can buy $300 guitars now, and that’s really nice.

So that means you can smash even more.
Cobain: Yeah, but it’s getting kind of old. So I probably won’t do it as much.

How do you feel after playing Saturday Night Live?
Cobain: I kind of feel like we accomplished something. It was really neat to see how the show is actually put together. We played pretty abrasively tonight. Wrecked our equipment as usual, and I have goofy-colored hair. It was just something that isn’t normally on television, so I guess it was kind of an accomplishment.

Did it feel good to smash your guitar on the SNL stage?
Actually it did. It wasn’t as sterile as it has been within the last year or two.

When did you first know you wanted to play this music?
Krist Novoselic: Buzz Osbourne — guitar player for the Melvins — was turning people on to it. I heard it, and it sounded live to me, and then I borrowed the record Generic Flipper. It was like a revelation. It was heavy, it was art. I was affected, and I’ve never been the same since.

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