Nirvana – Sifting
February 22, 2021
Nirvana was arguably the biggest of the grunge-era rock bands to emerge from the explosive Seattle music scene in the ’90s. With no financial support from their record label, Sub Pop, the band received help from a friend who paid $600 for time in the studio to create their first album, Bleach. The record gained some notice from critics but was not commercially successful. It was, however, an important stepping stone as their next record, Nevermind, bloomed into a smash hit that eventually landed the band on the top of the charts with their music videos constantly playing on MTV. The quick rise to fame took the band — particularly vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter Kurt Cobain — by complete surprise. Cobain would grow increasingly frustrated with all the media attention he received and struggled to deal with Nirvana’s newfound success.
Cobain pushed the band to return to the raw and abrasive sound of Bleach on what would be their third and final album, In Utero. Cobain was consciously rejecting the cleaner sound of the band on Nevermind in an effort to return to their punk and underground roots. Their record label, DGC, was apprehensive upon hearing the new record. After a few compromises on the final mixes, In Utero was released and continued the band’s success, debuting atop the charts in September 1993. On the tour to support the record, Cobain’s heroin addiction, which grew increasingly problematic over the last several years, began to take its toll. After overdoses on heroin and other substances, Cobain entered rehab in March 1994. After a week, he left the detox facility, returned home, and took his own life. His body was discovered by an electrician working at Cobain’s house on April 8.
Jason and Scott both reflect on being slightly too young to appreciate Nirvana’s music before Cobain’s suicide in 1994. Jason discusses deepening his appreciation for the band and their raw sound with the release of the live album From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah. Scott remembers hearing the news about Cobain’s death and considers how the band and Cobain continue to be hugely influential today.