Where: SiriusXM's studios in New York City
When: September 24, 2011
Better than… bands inspired by Nirvana.
Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind, an album most people feel changed the landscape of music. To celebrate, SiriusXM satellite radio arranged a town hall-style Q&A hosted by Jon Stewart. Former Nirvana members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and producer Butch Vig were in attendance. Twenty winners from around the United States were flown in to New York and were able to ask a question about the album.
“The first time I heard Nevermind, I couldn't believe it had everything– sonic menance, melody, urgency, irony. It was like the Beatles had swallowed Black Flag,” Stewart said. “I couldn't wait to love them, and then watch everyone else love them and then be really mad at them for everyone else loving them, while myself still secretly loving them.”
Grohl, Novoselic, Vig and Stewart sat inside a Plexiglas room that looked like a giant cube. The contest winners, an AV crew and a few photographers joined the band inside, while others (including press) sat on the outside, listening and watching the interview as it was broadcast live.
Throughout the two-hour session, Grohl, Novoselic and Vig launched into tangents, allowing the intimate group of attendees to feel more like eavesdroppers. The contest winners' questions were fairly mundane, but there were plenty of funny stories and memorable anecdotes. To wit: band nicknamed the infamous Circus Liquor mascot “Alky the Clown,” which is all we're going to think about when we drive pass that iconic neon sign in Hollywood now.
“I think there's a popular misconception that the band, like, just traveled with this black cloud over our head all the time and were so dark,” Grohl said. “But it was so not that way.” He recalled that the group often didn't take themselves or media interviews too seriously.
The first band bio written by Novoselic was “total bullshit,” he said, and stated that Novoselic and Cobain met at art school and bonded over macaroni art.
After the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” debuted on MTV on September 29, 1991, the band became a cultural phenomena. Ironic, considering how Nevermind was almost titled Sheep.
No one expected or could have anticipated the success of Nirvana. Grohl knew the band had “had arrived” when Weird Al Yankovic parodied the band with his song “Smells Like Nirvana.”
“I was introduced to anxiety through Nirvana,” Grohl said. “I used to trip out on the responsibility of it all.”
Novoselic's dad once got angry while the band was jamming in his garage and told them they should trade in their guitars for shovels.
At the end of the Q&A session, the contests winners and their guests were able to get their photograph taken with Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Vig and Stewart. They were also given an autographed copy of the remastered Nevermind album.
Oh yeah, and there was a proposal . . .
One fan from Texas was surprised when her boyfriend proposed to her in front of the band. She said yes. The couple was showered with well wishes and hugs.
If you missed the original broadcast, you can tune into SiriusXM today at noon pacific time or tomorrow at 3 to hear the interview in its entirity. Sirius's Lithium Station (Channel 34) is currently featuring music by Nirvana, including B-sides, rarities, and live performances.