Part of Everett True’s interview with Kurt Cobain, April 24th, 1993
This ‘interview’ took place in LA, 1993.
We were back at the Cobain residence a couple of days after the San Francisco concert at the Cow Palace. (I was sleeping over.) The idea was that we were writing the first part of a joint fanzine/book together. Courtney was tired, so aside from a few shouted interjections at the start, the only sound that could be heard in the apartment was me hammering away at the typewriter, while Kurt patiently waited for me to finish cso he could continue with his anecdotes. obviously the fanzine never appeared… but hence the format. It was meant to be a two-way exchange, both parties being equal, so Kurt didn’t have to feel like it was an interview. I was quite good at faking conversations back then on the typewriter. Obviously Melody Maker printed it, despite the weirdness of the format – they’d have printed ANYTHING with Kurt’s name attached, though to their credit they tried to hide it away towards the back of the paper.
It was a whole load of fun to do. I can still picture the night sky outside, the neon and the stars.
- Kurt: So this is where I’m supposed to describe how I feel after a major show, right? Okay, I remember this one time I went to see Sammy Hagar when I was in Seventh Grade. Everyone was passing around pot, and I got really high and I lit myself on fire. I had a Bic lighter in my sweatshirt pocket and I was watching Sammy, swinging upside-down from the rafters, mocking everyone else who was holding their lighters above their heads. I looked down, and petrol had spilt out everywhere and my shirt was on fire. It went well with the piss-stained pants. I got those before the show, when we drank a case of beer and got stuck in a traffic jam. There was nowhere to go, so I peed my pants in the back of the car. What else do I remember about the show? Wanting desperately to leave. Did you ever go to a big concert?
- Everett: Yeah, sometimes. Hold on. Let me think. It was the other night – hey, you were there, right? A benefit for Bosnian refugees. A real big event; 14,000 sun-kissed Californians, come to show their solidarity, or was it just to get their fucking MTV rocks off? Who cares, right? As long as the money benefits a worthy cause. Chris Novoselic, who put the concert together, rendezvoused with the Tvesnjevka Women’s Group in Zagreb in January this year, contacted all the bands…. well, his wife was on the door leafleting people as they came in, trying to make ‘em stop and think a second, participate. Some hope! These kids were here cos MTV told ‘em to be. Still, it’s far better to attempt than accept. Plus, MTV got Clinton in with their “Rock The Vote” campaign, however much you scorn them. Anyway. So there I was, sitting up among the pigeons with Kim and Jo from The Breeders and some other guy, looking down upon you, so fragile, so vulnerable, one speck of humanity against a whole generation of curiosity-seekers, fans, the cynical, the bored and a whole buncha lame cheerleaders – no tattoos – in butt-hugging slacks. You were singing that damn line from the achingly poignant “All Apologies” about “All in all/Is all we are”. No, I didn’t have any popcorn. Tears were prickling behind my eye-lids like from before, when you sang “Frances Farmer”, that slow and melancholic one from Reading, dedicated to Courtney and Frances Bean, or anytime you’ve played the ironic “In Bloom”, and I fell to wondering… Look, when I see U2 or Rush or Prince or Iggy Pop or whoever, I feel lost, traumatised by this singular, fascistic vision of rock. When I see Nirvana, I feel all those emotions, but bewildered, too – bewildered that this music should reach me and the untrained, simultaneously. When I see Hiphoprisy, I feel warm inside, glowing all over. When I hear The Breeders, I feel delirious. And when I see L7? I wanna laugh with pleasure. It’s been proven that if you expose an eight-year-old to the most off-the-wall music, they’ll take it on board, place it next to their favourites, as long as they’ve heard it in the correct context. Sassy magazine, too, constantly proves this in their musical coverage for cool US teenage girls. It’s only later people start shutting down. Okay, I’m burbling. So I saw Rush at Wembley once, and it was nothing like the Cow Palace. No leaflets about abortion rights, no cool supports, no crushing melodies, either. Just a whole buncha multi-coloured lights and…
- Kurt: Right. The only major arena rock concert I went to was Iron Maiden on the Fourth of July. People were shooting bottle rockets and throwing M-80s into the crowd all night, until they had to stop because the roof caught fire. It was entertaining, I suppose, but I felt alienated. You may as well throw in the bathroom thing now.
- Everett: What bathroom thing? Your show was so neat. Sorry if I’m sounding like I write for Hit It Or Quit It, or some cool US girlzine or something. But it was. Especially when you toppled into Dave’s drum-kit in slow motion at the crescendo to “Endless, Nameless” for old-time’s sake, and he emerged, face all black and bruised. At least, that’s what we wanted to imagine from our vantage point, perched among the rafters. The new songs shone: as blue and battered as anything from the devastating, forthcoming debut album by Madder Rose; as raw and trembling as any Daniel Johnston live tape; as mighty and pounding as any waves washing up on a beach where the shingle has backed up too high to ever be overwhelmed, but still the waves try, dammit, still they try. Hey, you like my new metaphor? Yeah, lame, isn’t it? So “Penny Royaltea”, the one I woke up singing two days later in San Francisco as the sun blistered and the sound of Melvins pounded into my skull, nearly shuddered to a halt several times, but, each time it shuddered, it emerged sounding more triumphant than ever. Whatever trials and pressures you and Chris and Dave have suffered, surely they were worth it for this? Er, what was that about a bathroom?
- Kurt: Right. Listen. At Sammy Hagar’s, in the bathroom, there was a passed-out, drunken Seventh Grader lying in the piss trough. People relieved themselves on him throughout the concert, not even caring. There were these two girls cutting lines of coke on a small mirror when, all of a sudden, a drunken man fell behind their chairs and vomited all over the two girls’ laps, ruining their lines of coke. The two girls had their boyfriends beat up the drunken coke killer. Look, when you type this up, can you fix it so the words end in mid-letter at the end of each line. That looks far more punk rock.
- Everett: I doubt it, Kurt. I’m as much owned by a large corporation as you are. More, probably. It would be false. Anyway. So that was at Hagar’s, right? Most of the concerts I’ve seen over the past decade in London were simply a matter of scared wannabe punk rock indie boys wearing spectacles and clutching carrier bags, wishing there were some cute girls to eye up in the crowd. That’s why metal is so popular, I guess – those girls shake their tushes. Am I allowed to say that? Fuck it. These kids would’ve been terrified at the Cow Palace, watching how well their precious Breeders communicated, perhaps a little shocked at the massive glaring differences between new Breeders material and the (unsurprisingly) mediocre Frank Black album. God, Kurt, I know folk like us have been saying this for years… but just who was the main creative force behind The Pixies? Breeders songs shuffle and shatter, stumble and shudder just as much as the old Pixies (“Surfer Rosa”, say) ever did, but now they have an added vulnerability, the sweetest, most caustic vocals. Charles lost something a long time back. Anyhow, how many fucking songs about serial killers and space rockets can one critic take? The trick where they drop all their instruments one by one, until there’s just Jo’s surfin’ boss flaunting, or Kelley’s harsh guitar squalling, is a mighty fine one. And, God, that new drummer can fucking hit those drums! Did I tell you, Kurt, about how some kids came and badgered me while The Breeders were on? They asked me if they were L7, nodded appreciatively when I mentioned the name Pixies, invited me down the “pit” with them. I declined, of course, on grounds of age and alcohol. They tried to hot on me for tabs. I shook the young punks off and went to buy a commemorative tee-shirt. You wanna say something here?
- Kurt: Yeah. That reminds me. One night, we decided to hire two Manchester Mafia goons to fend off tee-shirt bootleggers. I got very drunk during Eugenius’ set, who, at the time, were called Captain America, I exited out the side door with drink in hand to urinate. The two goons didn’t recognise me as being their employer and decided to rough me up a bit for pissing. I threw a rock star fit, threw my half-empty glass of vodka in their faces, and darted back in through the exit door. They chased me round inside the hall among the dancing fans until I was rescued by my Scottish tour manager. Two shows later, the same two goons were hired as bouncers to keep the unruly slam-dancers at bay. For the first half of our set, I kept noticing splashes of beer in my face. I finally realised it wasn’t coming from the audience, it was coming from one of the goon bouncers. I threw off my guitar and jumped straight onto his chest and bounced off of him. He and the other goon began to beat me up, but I was soon rescued by my Scottish tour manager again.
Originally re-posted by Hey Dinosaur Tumblr blog.
Photography: Charles Peterson