Cobain: I was 15 when I got my first guitar. My mother had just gotten married. This was in the first year of her marriage. My stepfather ran out on her, and she got so irate she took all of my stepfather’s guns, various pistols and rifles and stuff, walked down to the river, and threw them in. And then I hired this kid to fish a couple of them out, and I sold them. I got my first guitar with the money.
I took lessons for a week, I learned how to play “Back in Black” by AC/DC. It’s pretty much the “Louie, Louie” chords, so that’s all I needed to know. I never did pay the guitar teacher for that week, either. I still owe him money. But that’s it, I just started writing songs on my own. Once you know the power chord, you don’t need to know anything else.
Tell me about Aberdeen and how you started the band.
Novoselic: Aberdeen’s basically just small-town America, it’s about a hundred miles southwest of Seattle. It’s on the Pacific Ocean. Everything revolves around the logging industry there. If the logging stopped, it would be a ghost town.
A little social group came together, and we just kinda hung out and talked about things, and one thing led to another. Kurt did a tape with Dale Crover, from the Melvins, and one of the songs on it was “Spank Through.” He turned me on to it, so we scrounged up a drummer and started practicing. We took it very seriously, too. He [Dale Crover] played on our first demo, and a couple of those songs made it over to the Bleach LP: “Floyd the Barber” and “Paper Cuts.” We jammed for about a week, put some songs together, and made this tape.
Why did Chad leave?
Novoselic: Chad Channing wanted to express himself in a way that really didn’t gel with the band. Chad really compromised his style to suit the band. I don’t think he was happy doing that. It was a good departure. It worked well for everybody.
Bleach was recorded quickly, wasn’t it?
Cobain: We had a few hours every night for about six days. There were a few guitar overdubs, but that’s about it. Bleach just seemed to be really one-dimensional. All the songs are slow and grungy, and they’re tuned down to really low notes. And I screamed a lot. But at the same time that we were recording Bleach, we had a lot more songs, like “About a Girl.” In fact, “Polly” was written at that same time too — it’s just that we chose to put the more abrasive songs on the Bleach album. So it really wasn’t a matter of evolving within just a year. We’ve always liked pop music, and always had a few songs like that.