Our dear drummer takes Pabs through the first of his favourite artists in our current series of band influences. Seattle’s Nirvana
It was probably the mid 2000’s when we were re-recording some of our early albums and Derek and I got into a healthy debate about Nirvana. Bleach is best he said. I spat out my Carlsberg and protested, how can Bleach be the best. Surely it’s the raw power of the Steve Albini produced Cobain curtain call that is In Utero? No he said, it’s Bleach.
In later years Derek would confess an admiration for Dave Grohl who as we know has stepped from behind the kit to become perhaps more commercially successful with the Foo Fighters. It was clear that Nirvana would have a huge influence on him, his drumming and indeed the band. Derek explains how Nirvana has influenced him.
When did you first discover them?
“I first heard of them (Nirvana) when Scott (a good friend of Derek and the band) of all people, pointed me in the direction of a tape entitled Bleach. I put it on but at first listen I didn’t really get it, I was 11 and I wasn’t quite into music yet although I was listening to Queen and a bit of Guns n Roses. Then, like so many of my generation, I heard ‘that’ song – Teen Spirit and my mind was blown. The rest is history.”
In the early 90’s as our young minds were soaking up our first musical tastes Nirvana did indeed explode onto the scene with Smells Like Teen Spirit. It would have a huge bearing on our first album Whapper Stormer. Educational Suicide, the opening track, was directly influenced by Teen Spirit. Educational was the first of many many songs we would write. On the same album the song ‘Vancouver’ addressed the tragic events that led to Cobain’s self inflicted demise.
Why do you like them Nirvana?
“Probably the same reason most of us like Nirvana, the utter shambolic brilliance of their music. Scratchy vocals, massive riffs and pounding, pounding drums, how can you not like them? Their almost anarchic attitude was exactly the way to get to a young teenager, who in times of angst, could literally let his his hair down and blow off some steam. Nirvana was the perfect soundtrack for that.”
It was true that the punky anarchic attitude of Cobain and co directed our behaviour. Our early practise room videos show a total disregard for our futures. It would be mid week and we would be drinking to excess, generally giving a middle finger to the working life ahead. While our peers were revising for sixth year exams we would be planning our next gig, our studying would suffer and at times so did the music. We got really drunk at practise, we traded insults, dived off sofas (yeah I know anarchic) and hung around Earlsgate garage causing low level mayhem.
How do Nirvana influence you or the band and are they still a favourite today?
“Very much still a favourite today, they shaped my music taste from the word go. I wish we could have got another album out of them, but I don’t think we would have got much more than that even if Kurt was still with us. I would say they massively influenced the band, especially in the early days. For at least 3/4 of us they might not have been our favourite band but they were definitely in the top 10. Probably the reason some of us picked up an instrument. Definitely the reason I picked up a set of sticks. So blame them!
Even our latest album has threads of Nirvana. Quoted not Voted is perhaps an example of recording what you want to the harddrive and it paid off. Most modern rock bands still go for the large sounding chorus a technique that Nirvana helped make mainstream. My style of guitar playing is heavily influenced by Cobain.
How have Nirvana changed the music scene or the industry itself?
Difficult one to answer for me, I don’t really take much notice of the scene. I don’t listen to music radio at all and I don’t get too many gigs. As Pabs will tell you I live in the past a bit with music. I don’t download and I don’t stream. So for me to comment on how these, or any bands have changed the scene or the industry would be a bit like me trying to design the instrumentation for an a biomass upgrade of a power station…….wait a minute!
With regards to the structure of today’s music industry you could argue Nirvana don’t have much of an influence as they were at their powers during the CD boom of the 90’s however their song structure can be heard everywhere and they opened the door for a huge alternative rock scene.
There probably would’ve been no Weird Decibels without Nirvana.