30 years ago: “Nevermind” which defines the generation of Nirvana
Nirvana didn’t set out to define a generation of music fans, but that’s exactly what they did with their classic 1991 album. no matter.
The beginnings of the group, the years 1989 Bleach, had achieved its goal. The band built an underground fan base, toured across the country, and generally enjoyed their first taste of being a true professional outlet. The LP didn’t top the charts or generated radio hits, but it wasn’t expected. That sort of thing didn’t happen for a band like Nirvanaâ¦ at least that’s what they thought.
Besides the natural evolution that comes with more time as a band, Nirvana’s biggest difference between album one and album two was behind the kit. Gone is drummer Chad Channing, replaced by Dave Grohl, who joined the band in 1990. The newcomer’s punchy style instantly added to Nirvana’s sound.
“It flowed, it sounded good, it was immediate,” bassist Krist Novoselic later explained to Uncut. âIt just fell into place; there was no embarrassment. Dave is such a good musician, he rose to the occasion – or we stood up to him no matter how it turned out. It felt natural and it was easy to date Dave.
Watch the video for “Come as You Are” by Nirvana
The group had also decided to sign on a major label, leaving Seattle indie Sub Pop to join the DGC of David Geffen. “Geffen had a good track record,” said frontman Kurt Cobain NME, noting his work with Sonic Youth. “They have given us total artistic control and don’t seem to want us to do anything that will damage our credibility.”
Armed with a few previously recorded demos, coupled with a handful of new tracks, the trio retired to Southern California in May 1991 and teamed up with producer Butch Vig. In rehearsal, the first song they played for him was a song called “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. “I was floored,” Vig later admitted to Weekly entertainment. “It was so good. I just remember getting up and sweating and trying to be cool. I just said ‘Hmmm, play it back’, but I thought ‘Holy shit, that was. unbelievable.'”
Watch Nirvana’s video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Soon the band was recording at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California. The place brought its own distinct atmosphere to the project.
“We just went there because it was cheap,” Grohl admitted to the BBC six decades later. âWe had never been there. And we walked in, and we thought it was a dumping ground when we saw it. Still, the studio quickly proved to be perfect for what Nirvana was trying to capture. âThe room was only made of linoleum tiles and a perforated soundboard on the wall. It wasn’t fancy, but it wasn’t necessary, because it sounded so good. It was very real.
The recording process went quickly, with the band usually only needing a few takes to create a track. Even though the mood remained generally positive throughout, there were still occasional stressful moments.
âKurt would have intense mood swings and stop. He was just going to sit in a corner and disappear into his own space,â Vig recalled to Billboard. “Krist was like, ‘He just gets into these moods and he’ll be out in a while.’ So we’d find something to do for a few hours, tweak the drums or work on the bass sounds, and all of a sudden, Kurt was picking up his guitar, ‘Let’s go.’ He would be back, fully engaged. I just had to assess when the time was right for the takes. “
Watch Nirvana’s Video for “In Bloom”
Lyrically, the material maintained a distinctly anti-commercial stance.
âSmells Like Teen Spiritâ was inspired by a rowdy night of social activism. For âCome as You Are,â Cobain intentionally kept things confused. “The lines of the song are really contradictory,” he explained in 1991. Too bad, it’s an interview. “It’s just about people and what they’re supposed to do.”
On “In Bloom”, the leader addressed his harsh words to “rednecks” and “macho men”. “I just don’t like violent people,” the singer explained in a neutral tone.
A major part of the grunge movement would be the denial of rights for young people on the eve of the Gulf War, a sentiment that echoed prominently in the words of “Race.” âI was helpless when I was 12, when Reagan was elected, and there was nothing I could do about it,â Cobain explained. âBut now this generation is growing up, and they’re in their mid-twenties; they can’t stand it.
Listen to Nirvana’s ‘Breed’
All along no matter, Nirvana tapped into a sentiment that permeated the subculture of the time.
âIt was a record that people could set and for 45 minutes couldâ¦ do it,â Grohl said later. Rhythm magazine. âNo matter what pissed them off, they could yell at them; if they were sad, maybe they could be edified.
As the album was finalized, the buzz started to spread throughout the music industry. Still, the group kept expectations in check.
âWe thought, ‘I hope we have the success of a band like Sonic Youth, and that everyone has their own apartment! “That was the scope of our ambitions,” admitted Grohl decades later.
Released September 24, 1991, no matter began a slow combustion towards immortality. The album debuted at No. 144 on the Billboard charts, but as word of mouth began to spread, the LP continued to climb. Things sped up even more when MTV moved the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video in a heavy spin.
“I think at first they squeezed 100,000 copies, and those went the first week,” Grohl recalled of the build fervor. âThen we were selling 150,000 copies a week, and it got to a point where we couldn’t believe it anymore. People would tell us stuff like that and it was kind of funny, like winning a ridiculous contest that you never knew you entered and didn’t care if you won or lost.
Listen to Nirvana’s “Polly”
Even as the group’s star rose, Cobain maintained his underdog mentality. Asked about the emergence of grunge during an interview in November 1991 with Riff raff magazine, the frontman considered punk to be rock’s last great movement. “There will never be another musical revolution,” he said at the time. “The only musical revolution that’s going to happen is that people are finally going to enjoy all music.”
In 1992, âmusical revolutionâ was exactly the term used to describe Nirvana’s assault on the mainstream. January 11, no matter reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, replacing that of Michael Jackson Dangerous of the first place. The achievement would have seemed ridiculous a year earlier, but by that time grunge had been swept away as the fashion of the day across the world – and Nirvana were the reluctant kings of the genre. no matter will eventually sell over 30 million copies worldwide.
âIt was never our intention to become a huge rock phenomenon,â Grohl said a few years later, âand I think that wasn’t the goal that sort of saved our ass. We just did. this record, we released it and we went on tour. We never imagined anything like that. When things slowed down and we left the tour, when we stopped and sat down, we couldn’t believe it. We just thought, ‘My God, look what happened.’ “
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