Remember when VICE made that documentary about a guy called Steve who injects snake venom into his body for a laugh? Turns out he’s one of the most interesting people we’ve ever met and has at least 200 music industry stories that are way better than your best one. A few months ago Steve wrote about shitting on the cover of NME and losing a million pound record deal. This time…
It sounds smug to say it with the benefit of hindsight, but Nirvana really were the band everyone had been waiting for - a thin, better looking than Black Francis singer armed with a quiet loud formula which made them compelling and explosive. My rock family tree roots to Nirvana, Kurt and Courtney are pretty weird and wild; in late 1992, Kurt Cobain left life threatening messages on my then girlfriend’s answering tape machine.
I had been lucky enough to defect from America and the horrors of the Reagan/Bush era and had decided to seek out a life in music by moving to the United Kingdom in 1987. Bizarrely, my first link to Kurt was through a Boston singer-songwriter named Mary Lou Lord, whom I had shared a house with for six months in North London. She was a pretty, blonde, cool girl who taught me how to play my first acoustic guitar. Mary Lou later had a short-lived relationship with Kurt before Courtney appeared on the scene and pushed her aside just as Nirvana were shooting up the charts in September 1991.
I first saw Nirvana (with their original drummer) at Sub Pop's Lame Fest showcase at The London Astoria with their label mates Tad and Mudhoney on December 3rd 1989. Mudhoney headlined, but Nirvana stole the show with Krist Novoselic using his bass to bat away the guitar Kurt had pitched to him. It was a smash home run. There was a real purity to their performance that made everyone believe they were destined for great things. I was very fortunate to see the band play five classic shows and their first Reading Festival slot where they previewed unheard future hit “Teen Spirit”. I distinctly remember screaming out loud, "Fucking hell they've ripped off the Pixies! They are gonna be gigantic!"