Canadian Nardwuar, the Human Serviette has surely been a kooky source of amusing interviews with everyone from Josh Homme to Lady Gaga. As someone who is capable of both making his guest feel slightly uneasy and utterly confounded, he’s the entertainment industry’s most idiosyncratic interviewer. One of the high-voiced journalist’s most infamous interviews however, was when he broke into Nirvana’s green room and spoke with the band.
He states in a Spin interview:
“After stalking Nirvana for two days trying to get this interview, I was ready to give up until Courtney Love snuck me backstage, telling security I was her cousin. Sadly, I was never able to talk to Cobain again, as he died only a few months later. I think this is one of his last interviews ever.”
The journalist is known for his huge capacity for trivial facts about the given artist he’s interviewing. For example, he once asked Henry Rollins if his “cock resembles a soup can”, on a downright-hilarious claim from a Black Flag groupie. He’s not afraid to squeak through questions, no matter how uncomfortable:
At 3:34: Nardwuar asks Kurt Cobain if it’s true that his friend Jesse Reid’s dad played in a surf band. To the side of the camera, you hear Courtney Love calling out, “Isn’t it weird that he knows that? How do you know that?!”
The interview was captured backstage in Vancouver in 1994. Kurt and Courtney are eating a pizza and go toe-to-toe with Nardwuar the Human Serviette – who even back in the day, was keen to show off his overtly-brainiac music knowledge. Probably one of the most legit interviews with Nirvana ever caught on tape. Watch the interview and read the transcript below.
NARDWUAR INTERVIEWS NIRVANA PART 1
NARDWUAR INTERVIEWS NIRVANA PART 2
NARDWUAR INTERVIEWS NIRVANA PART 3
Read The Full Transcript Below – ©NARDWUAR
NARDWUAR- So, Kurt, um, I waited outside, how was the Toronto show, how did that go, ’cause I was in Toronto at that time, when you played at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Krist (with dressing room towel babushka-ed over his head)- Don’t say that I’m making any kind of ethnic stereotypes. I am not making any stereotypes because they’re not P.C.
Do you remember that show at all Kurt?
Maple Leaf Gardens in November.
Kurt- Umm… that was ummm…
Courtney- I remember that, with the little back stage.
Kurt- It was-it a nice temperature ’cause I think it was an ice hockey rink.
Yeah, it was Maple Leaf Gardens, and, umm-I waited outside, you know, for a couple of hours afterwards… waiting for you guys to leave. How did you eventually leave?
Kurt- By limousine and cop escort.
Did you leave pretty early? ‘Cause like they brought out, you know, the prop, the prop out. And you know, I kept-I kept on waiting and waiting and then I saw a little mini-van pull out and I thought a guy hopped over the back seat. Was that you? Like did you wait like two hours or did get-like did I wait for nothing ’cause you’d already left?
Courtney- We left right away. Bam-bam. We did.
Kurt- I just remember leaving… pretty much right after the show. Within about 20 minutes or so. I met one of the guys from The Kids in the Hall, Scott. He’s a nice person.
Krist- That’s right! We were mingling with famous people. They’d never talk to hacks like you. FUCK no! They’re on TV every night.
Kurt- Unless you, of course, push your way in.
Krist- On Comedy Central, and on the Canadian TV and they know Lorne Michaels. We-I got to meet Lorne Michaels and Don Pardo and everybody. Because we’re famous people.
During the 1960’s Kurt, there was a big punk scene as you realize, in the Northwest. You know, the pu-the se- the Sonics, the Wailers, the-
Kurt- I hate the Sonics. They’re stupid.
Courtney- No they’re not.
The Wailers and all those other bands. And I was reading, that umm.. your good friend, Jesse Reid, his dad played in a surf band that released a surf record?!?
Kurt- That’s true.
Courtney- Isn’t that weird that he- how do you know that? Where did you read that?
Kurt- What were they called?
It was called The Bagpiper. What was the name of their-
Courtney- Where did you read that?
Uhh.. Come As You Are.
Kurt- What was the name of their band?
Krist- The Beach Combers.
Kurt- The Beach Combers, yeah.
Courtney- Come As You Are? What do you mean, Come As You Are? The book?
Courtney- Oh, Michael Azerrad.
Courtney- He’s obsessed with Jesse Reid.
‘Cause the ca- The Beach Combers… were they pretty cool? I thought, like I love those ’60’s wailing frat garage bands of the Northwest.
Kurt- No, they didn’t, have much taste.
Courtney- Wasn’t he a born again?
Kurt- It was pretty generic. He’s a born again now.
Courtney- Didn’t he kick you out of the house?
Kurt- Yes, he did. He tried to revive me for a while.
He also said in that book that your uncle Chuck was in a garage band too, and he released records …or did he release anything?
Courtney- His aunt Mary put out records.
Kurt- She put out a single. She financed it herself. She’s a country and western born again Christian. and my uncle Chuck was in a-a couple of bar bands, you know, they just played covers like Creedence Clearwater. He had a Lucite drum set, and he was left handed, and he wasn’t very good.
Courtney- Was that Chuck with the red hair?
Courtney- Was that the Chuck that’s gay?
Courtney- Oh. Is that the one that we go-went to Christmas-That one, Chuck? The nice one.
Courtney- With the son that has, your cousin who has the other band.
Kurt- Although he went to jail one time for, um exposing himself.
Courtney- Green, from Bellevue. That’s his cousin’s band.
Did you first meet Courtney, and this is Courtney Love, did you-I’ve heard-because we’re here in Canada. Vancouver, B.C., Canada. I heard a rumor, I think I might have read it in Interview Magazine, that Kurt and Courtney at a D-
Kurt- [cough] [cough] [cough]…[cough-cough, cough] [cough]
Courtney-Stop! That’s rude.
Aaa.. Did you first meet at a D.O.A. gig? In Portland, Oregon?
Kurt- Um-hmm. (Curt slyly flips off Nardwuar while holding pizza slice)
So there is really a Canadian connection then.
Kurt- Wasn’t it No Means No?… It was one of our shows!
Kurt- It was our show… It was my show. I played with D.O.A. a couple of times. I don’t remember where.
But was that-wa-was-so Canadian connection, a Canadian band has something to do with Kurt and Courtney.
Kurt- Like, yes. I don’t, honestly I don’t remember which show it was.
Courtney- I was too drunk.
Kurt- Me too.
Do you remember your first time in Canada at all, Kurt?
Kurt- No,… I might have been a small child. I visited some gardens.
Courtney- Butchart Gardens.
Kurt- We went across on a ferry, in Vancouver.
Kurt- Right. I was a small child.
That’s actually where No Means No are from.
And the Neos, a legendary speed band.
And if it wasn’t for the Neos-
Courtney- Our nanny ‘s from Victoria.
Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. You have a Canadian nanny, another Canadian connection.
Courtney- We like Ca-aa-, Va-a, B.C. We don’t like the rest of it so much.
What is her name? What Is your nanny’s name?
Courtney-His name ‘s, uhh, Mike.
And his uh, does he have a girlfriend?
Courtney- Jessica, yeah.
I think she might have been, she might be from Vancouver too, right?
Courtney- No, she’s from Minneapolis. She has that fanzine uhh, you know that fanzine that’s called Hit It or Quit It. She’s a riot girl, person. She’s like 15.
Now Chris here, Chris, come over here for a minute. This is Chris of the rock and roll band, Nirvana.
Now, Chris, you worked earlier on in your life at Taco Bell.
Do you realize there are no Taco Bells in Canada?
Krist- Good for you.
Actually, at least in B.C.
Krist- ‘Cause there’s no Mexicans in Canada.
Actually, there’s one in Alberta, there’s some in Alberta.
Krist- That’s right.
So, do you think that’s contributed at all to the growth of bands in B.C. that we do not have a Taco Bell? Is this a good or a bad thing?
Krist- I don’t know man. Canada can be ethnically diverse, which is beautiful, part of the… thing ‘n stuff, but judging a-
Actually you look like a Doukobor when you put that thing on. [referring to towel on Krist’s head]
Krist- Doukobors are awesome, man. They’re awesome!
Krist- Di-did you go-are there still Doukobors around?
Yeah, there are.
Krist- Yeah, umm. I’m really into the Doukobors… They used to run around naked and umm… they were from Russia, right?
Krist- And they had their anarchist colony. How did they go under? I forgot.
I think there was some riots and stuff. They’re still going strong. And they-they were-
Krist- I am the next Doukobor messiah. See, you can tell by the way I spit food out and by the way it’s caught in my… mouth.
And they’re from Canada, too. Another Canadian connection. On umm, page 226, of Come As You Are, Michael Azerrad quotes Canadian rockers, Sloan.
Kurt- I don’t know who they are
Krist- If I was your dad, I’d…
Courtney- Jackie’s boyfriend. Jackie Ferry, remember.
Krist- If I was dad, I’d whoop your ass!
Courtney- Remember the guy, Jackie, the Sloan band. They were on our label. They’re called the Sloan band.
Kurt- Oh yeah.
Courtney- They’re from, umm, Halifax.
And they’re quoted in your book. Are there any mistakes in, the Come As You Are book?
Kurt- I don’t know.
Cause I noticed on page 226, in reference to the Deep-Six comp., “Except for the art-rock, U-men, all mix varying amounts of punk, 70’s style hard rock, and proletarian and heavy-metal into a crude but effective musical mongrel”. The U-men, art rock?
Kurt- I’d say so, yeah
I thought they were cool punk rock sort of cool 60’s sort of garage Sonic-y.
Courtney- Birthday Party.
Kurt- Punk, all art punk. Birthday Party, Scratch Acid.
Courtney- Birthday Party was art rock.
Kurt- Did you ever see them live?
No I didn’t. I did buy the Step a-Step On a Bug, No, the, “Dig it baby, dig it baby, dig it.” single.
Kurt- That was after the fact. That was years after they’d been a band and playing around Seattle for a really long time. I would-I would classify them as art rock, Classic art rock.
I knew they were cool, actually when I saw Tom Price, a picture of him when he played at the Commodore. When he backed up the Cramps he had tape over one of his guitar knobs.
Courtney- Yeah, I thought they were cool when I saw one of them walking down an alley and I thought he was cute.
Kurt- He played a Mustang. He was one of the first people I ever saw play a Mustang
Courtney- They were wearing trench coats. There were two of them. Me and Kat [Bjelland, of Babes In Toyland] were like, we should move here. That guy’s cute.
Kurt- They were cute.
Courtney- Yeah, they were like cute guys. And.. kinda cool. That’s good for a scene. I think you’re desperately trying to start a scene. Is that the deal?
No, I just-
Courtney- You want a scene so bad your going to make one. You’re just going to close your eyes ’till you get one. Is that it?
On page 190-
Courtney- You have an inferiority complex about this scene here. I don’t think you should.
No! I’m not! I’m just saying, on page 190. On page 190, the Teen Spirit, in bracket, video, shot for a modest $33,000?
Courtney- I don’t believe that.
Kurt- I don’t know.
That’s what it says in the book. Just trying to find errors here with Kurt and Courtney.
Curt- I haven’t read the book. I, I’ve skimmed through it a few times but I’ve never read it from front to back.
And on page 154, the last of our analyzation, thank you Kurt and Courtney, on page 154, the book says, “the heavy, Bonhamesque drumming that Nirvana requires”?
Kurt- Yeah… sure.
You know the drummer from Pansy Division is from Aberdeen, Kurt?
Kurt- No… I didn’t know that.
You know, Smells Like Queer Spirit?
Kurt- Yeah… I had no idea.
Have any other bands come from Aberdeen?
Kurt- The Melvins and Metal Church.
What are the thrift shops there like?
Kurt- Umm, they’re not that great. People didn’t have very good taste… in the 60’s and 70’s. You know usually that’s the kind of stuff I that I look for. No lava lamps, no cool patterned shirts or anything.
Did you ever see any Farfisa mini-compact organs?… With like that quivering vibrato. I’m really desperately looking for one of those.
Kurt- I don’t know. Maybe not in Aberdeen.
Wasn’t there also surfing in Aberdeen, like at West Port?
Kurt- Hmm.. I don’t know, I’ve never gone in the ocean.
Because apparently it has some-
Kurt- I don’t even want to go in the ocean, there.
Courtney- Didn’t you dig for clams?
Kurt- I dug for clams a few times, yes.
Courtney- That’s going in the ocean. That’s the same thing.
I know you’re going to like this, Courtney, but I also read in Mix Magazine. Sorry, Mix Magazine-
Courtney- Wow! You get around! He reads more magazines than me.
Well not really. We get a free subscription at CiTR radio. And this is for CiTR radio.
Courtney- Well I buy most of the magazines I read.
Ok, five ninety-five for Mix Magazine, and it said, Butch Vig was talking about the Nirvana Nevermind album and he said he sampled some guitar riffs. Is this true? I couldn’t believe it.
Kurt- Sampled? Guitar riffs?
Courtney- Yeah, Andy Wallace does that. He has like a little Macintosh and he’s got a couple like snare sounds and guitar sounds.
Kurt- Sampling guitar RIFFS, I don’t think so.
Courtney- No, not riffs, sounds.
Kurt- He, I think Andy Wallace sampled a few different sounds for the drums. To make them sound better, according to him.
What’s the idea behind putting a lo- behind, you know, putting a lot of mics on a drum? I know you say you don’t really like the Sonics totally, but I really love that sort of like one guitar-
Kurt- I-I, I have to admit their, yeah the Sonics recorded very, very cheaply on a two track you know, and they just used one, one microphone over the drums and, and they got the most amazing drum sound I’ve ever heard. Still to this day, it’s still my favorite drum sound. It sounds like he’s hitting harder than anyone I’ve ever known.
And I have some good new-
Kurt- Don’t you agree?
It’s amazing. I have some good news for you Kurt. Do you know that where the Sonics recorded, Audio Recording in Seattle with Kearney Barton is still around and you can actually still record there?
Kurt- Really. Wow.
The Young Fresh Fellows, pioneers in that sound, you know, going into Egg Studio and stuff. They recorded a new track off their CD there, 99 girls, right at that studio. Kearney Barton Audio. You can check it out. Like the same guy is there that recorded The Sonics.
Krist- Who was born in, a, 1842.
No he wasn’t born in 1842. But I think that band Teengenerate from Japan, did that. And in Japan, they don’t seem to have too much vinyl, do they?
Courtney- Aren’t they into vinyl in Japan? They’re into anything classic American aren’t they? I don’t know. I don’t go there often.
Kurt, what is Geffen’s position on vinyl? Like is it easy to release seven inches? Can you release them domestically?
Kurt- Not usually domestically. Only in England and Europe especially. We always, they’ve always offered to print vinyl for us because they know we’re, we like that kind of thing. So, it’s been no problem. I don’t think it ever will be as long as there’s, at least one place somewhere that’ll print vinyl, they’ll still do it.
Courtney- The Breeders sold 150 copies of their vinyl,.. in the States. 150 copies. Isn’t that weird?
How much did Spencer Elden receive from the Nirvana camp?
Courtney- A lot. A lo-lot. You know why…?
And Spencer Elden is who?
Courtney- The guy from Nirvana, right?
The little baby on the cover.
Courtney- Oh, Spencer!
Courtney- Oh that’s the guy we’re going to have at dinner… when he grows up. I thought you meant the Nirva- the guys from Nirvana.
Kurt- I don’t know. It was a lot cheaper than the picture that we wanted to use.
What’s PA equipment like in South America? Tonight I noticed you had, quite an extensive PA and it sounded, I thought, really good. What’s PA-
Krist- P.A. is for pathetic assholes!
What are- what is the PA like, in South America? What are they like? What are the tech crews there like?
Has your tech- does your tech crew, has it improved your sound? Do you think like in South America, were they freaking out? What was it like there?
Kurt- I don’t remember.
‘Cause I once heard-
Kurt- I shot coke with Alice in Chains all night. I remember.
Courtney- Ohh!… [Laugh]
Kurt, did you really custom design a guitar? Your own special little model?
How many models are there? And can I buy one?
Kurt- I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s gone into proDUCTion yet. I don’t know if it will be available for the public. It’s up to them to decide. But what I basically, well, what I did is I took a picture of a Mustang, a Polaroid picture of a Mustang and a picture of a Jaguar and then cut them in half and glued them together and told them to build that. So that’s what it is. It’s the Jag-Stang.
What other bands, Kurt, have played in Argentina? Like you played there. What was it like, ‘n were you one of the first bands to play there, d’ya know?
Kurt- I don’t think so. I’ve heard that Skid Row played there.
Have any other melodic-punk bands played there?
Kurt- I do not know. We played with the Chili Peppers that night.
Ever heard of the Canadian band, Saga before?
Kurt- Yeah, I think so. Are they a pop metal band?
I think they played in Argentina. Kurt, what did you think of the last Flipper LP?
Kurt- Ehh.. OK.
What were Bjorn Again like from Europe?
Kurt- Wonderful. Uncanny. Amazing. They looked exactly and sounded exactly like Abba.
Are they better than Rain, a tribute to the Beatles?
Kurt- I’ve never seen them.
They did a big center spread in The Rocket [Seattle music newspaper]
Are you ever going to get Screaming Jay Hawkins to try and back you up again?
Kurt- We tried, but it fell through. I would like to try again.
Anybody else, cool, that you think you would bring up, bring up with you and back you up? Like I was thinking the Sweet maybe and get Kurt Bloch to guest on guitar.
Kurt- That wouldn’t be too hard, would it?
No, or maybe Village People would be no problem. Anybody else you’ve been thinking of?
Kurt- Well those two are that just ran through my mind. Umm.. No, not really. Buzzcocks…Buzzcocks…We’ve had some amazing bands play with us on this tour. We had, um, the Boredoms, the Meat Puppets, and, um, gee who else, Jaw Breaker.
But no Bonham or Quiet Riot or anything?
Kurt- Not yet.
Kurt- At the Riviera Steak House… in a couple of years.
Courtney said that Geffen, Kurt, made 55 million dollars off you and you guys only-
Courtney- I was quoting the Wall Street Journal.
And you guys only got a million. Where did the money go?
Kurt- To Geffen!
Courtney- That’s the way it’s always been. I explained that to you. It’s like a white guy giving a black guy a Cadillac.
Kurt- I walked into David’s room one day and I said, listen man, I feel like I’m gettin’ ripped off. And he said, look outside, there’s a Cadillac for ya’. And I took it. Then I just-you know I just forgot about tryin’ to get my royalties from him. And it turns out, the fucking Cadillac was rented. Can you believe it?
If Nirvana has total control, Kurt, I was wondering, slightly, about ticket prices for gigs. Is there any way to make tickets and t-shirts universally the same? i.e., ten dollars to get into the gig and ten dollars for a shirt?
Kurt- No…unless you’re Fugazi.
Krist- You Canadian communist mother fucker! You ???? !
Has any band ever tried that before? I mean on a major label you know, because you have perhaps, more control over what’ s going on. You could maybe- because you guys were playing at a cool place tonight. Like it’s small. It’s not a big coliseum.
Kurt- Um-hmm. I don’t know. I don’t know, really.
Courtney- It’s like, Nardwuar, it’s really expensive. You can’t break even.
Kurt- It’s really expensive to bring your own PA system and lights and stuff. You barely break even.
Do you know what? You and Axl have something in common, Kurt
Kurt- [Sarcastically] Yeah, a lot.
You both sing in, a, faked English accents, as he does on the Spaghetti Incident. On the new UK Subs-track. Did you check that out?
Kurt- No I haven’t.
Actually he sort of kicks ass. That Gun’s-n-Roses recording of the UK Subs. ‘Cause you mentioned in your book that you actually record, or the book about you, Come As You Are, you sing with faked English accents.
Kurt- Um-hmm. What can I say, I’m a death rocker.
Have you ever thought of partying with Bill Gates at all? Finally winding up here, Kurt.
Bill Gates, from Microsoft. Partying with Bill Gates.
‘Cause you know, who are the two newest members of the Seattle scene, Kurt? Here’s a trick question for ya.
Courtney- [Laughing] Bill Gates.
Microsoft and Nintendo! And finally, Kurt-
Courtney- Is Nintendo in Nirv- in, a, Seattle now, Nardwuar?
It is! It’s based out of Seattle. And finally, Kurt Cobain of the rock and roll band, Nirvana, If Frances Farmer will have her revenge on Seattle, who will have their revenge on Vancouver?
Kurt- Pete Reno.
Courtney- Wasn’t Lindsay Wagner from here?
Kurt- I dunno
Courtney- Eddie Munster. Eddie Munster, he’s from Vancouver, right?
Kurt- Pete Reno, I said it.
Who’s Pete Reno?
Kurt- You know.
Courtney- Oh! Loverboy! Right.
Oh, Mike Reno. That-that’s Mike Renowski actually.
Kurt- Oh Pete Reno is this half retarded person that went to my high school. Sorry.
And is going to be on Exploitation Records?
Kurt- Mmm hmmm
Ah Kurt? Doo doo de loo doo…
Courtney- You know too much!
Kurt! Doo doo de loo doo
Doo doo de loo doo
Kurt-[laughs] doo doo.