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Dave Grohl Talks Kurt Cobain and 'In Utero' Reissue
Yesterday marked the release of the much-anticipated deluxe reissue of Nirvana’s 1993 masterpiece In Utero. The new set, which features alternate mixes of the album in addition to B-sides, demos and live cuts, lays bare the creative process of a band teetering between bliss and burnout. Drummer Dave Grohl, who has done pretty well for himself in this post-Nirvana world, recently spoke about the fraught final year of his legendary band.
“Lollapalooza was calling: ‘You gotta headline Lollapalooza.’ I go to see U2 play a show with the Pixies and get pulled into Bono's dressing room: ‘You guys have got to come on tour with us.’ Gun's N' Roses is calling. I'm like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’ It was good for us to not do much. But it was like holding a match and watching it burn down to your fingers. It was only a matter of time before something happened.”
And that something was “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle,” the composition of which would finally light the fuse snaking its way to In Utero.
“We were recording a couple of songs, one for the single with the Jesus Lizard and a Wipers cover,” Grohl explained. “And Kurt said, ‘Oh, I have this new song idea.’ And he played ‘Frances Farmer’. It was ‘Oh my God, we're gonna have another record.’”
According to Grohl, the songs that would eventually find their way onto In Utero were born as experiments.
“We wanted everything to be surreal,” Grohl said. “We didn't want to have some contrived composition. A song like ‘Heart-Shaped Box’--we would start jamming. Kurt would play the riff, and Krist would tune into what he was doing, and I would play along with the two of them. We would get into this dynamic, getting loud, then quiet, then loud. A lot of that quiet-loud thing came from those experimental jams.”
Within a year of the album’s release, however, frontman Kurt Cobain took his own life, and the band responsible for two of the greatest rock albums of the 1990s were no more. And even though Grohl can appreciate his band’s accomplishments, he can no longer listen to Nirvana’s final album.
“I used to like to listen to it,” Grohl said. “And I don't anymore, because of [Kurt’s death]. To me, if you listen to it without thinking of Kurt dying, you might get the original intention of the record. Like my kids. They know I was in Nirvana. They know Kurt was killed. I haven't told them that he killed himself. They're four and seven years old. So when they listen to In Utero, they'll have that fresh perspective--the original intention of the album, as a first-time listener.”
And with yesterday’s reissue of In Utero, one can assume that first-time listeners are falling in love with the record as we speak.