When Krist Novoselic announced that he’d be performing at this Tuesday’s Nevermind tribute concert at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, some hoped for a reunion of the surviving members of Nirvana‘s 1991 lineup—but it was not to be (although PROMO ALERT thanks to VH1 Classic we will be premiering unseen 1991 concert film Nirvana: Live At The Paramount Friday, September 23 at 11PM ET/PT on VH1, VH1 Classic, and Palladia). But Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and producer Butch Vig did reunite recently, for at least the second time in the last year (the first was in the studio for the recording of “I Should Have Known” for Foo Fighters album Wasting Light), to talk to Jeff Weiss for Britain’s NME.
“My life was split in two by Nevermind,” Grohl tells the magazine, noting that he doesn’t remember the recording sessions or album release that well—and recalls plenty of time after its release but before it really broke: “In our own little world, things stayed the same for a while.” Of course, all three spend the interview alternately downplaying the content of the album as particularly revolutionary (chalking its success up to timing and pop sensibilities) and giving any credit for what might be special about Nevermind to the late Kurt Cobain. “You can’t forget what an artist Kurt Cobain was,” Novoselic insists. “He would draw, he would do sculpture, and he would write songs. He was really gifted.” (When later asked what would have happened if Cobain had not died, he only responds, “You can’t downplay what happened at the end, so that’s a really hard question to answer. It’s just too monumental.”)
Butch Vig, who would later form Garbage, mostly stays quiet (though if you’re interested in his comments on the album, check out the documentary Classic Albums: Nirvana: Nevermind, in which his extraordinarily obvious-in-retrospect observations about his production technique belie his real talent as a producer). Of course, there was little to add about the experience of recording because, as Vig reports here, “There was no drama.”
Novoselic and Grohl get most fired up in response to a question about notions of selling out. Novoselic calls 1991 punk “doctrinaire” and talks about almost exclusively promoting “underground” bands in interviews “to inoculate ourselves from criticism” about signing to a major label, even though, he says of what was left of their $260,000 advance after taxes, fees, and commissions, “we spent it on the record. We were broke.” Grohl is more forthcoming, as the question allows him to go into gleeful grump mode: “Some famous old punk rocker dude sued me right out the gate. It was my introduction to the music industry,” and later says of Foo bandmate Pat Smear‘s old band The Germs, “They wanted money for coke.”