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Well isn’t this a pretty thing to find in the post? It’s my first chance to see a finished copy of the book with the quotations from Kurt, Dave and Aaron on the back and all the photographs in place and so forth. Neat!

Also definitely overdue to share the rest of the chronology describing which bands are in the book. May as well just start at square one, 1987, again. The timeline is just an attempt to fit the bands who took part in the book into an overall structure, so you can see which shows people played with Nirvana and where:

1987

March, Raymond — Black Ice

Skid Row plays one undated house party in Aberdeen March/April

April 18, Tacoma (as Skid Row) — Nisqually Delta Podunk Nightmare, Soylent Green and Yellow Snow

May 1, Olympia (as Skid Row)— Dangermouse, Lansdat Blister, Nisqually Delta Podunk Nightmare

May 27, Tacoma (as Pen Cap Chew) — Hell’s Kitchen, Soylent Green

August 9, Tacoma (as Bliss) — Inspector Luv and the Ride Me Babies, Sons of Ishmael

1988

January 23, Tacoma (as Ted Ed Fred) — Moral Crux

March — Dave Foster plays the Caddy Shack house in Olympia as the band’s drummer

March 19, Tacoma (as Nirvana) — Lush, Vampire Lezbos

March/April — One show at The Witch House, Olympia plus Nirvana’s first Seattle show

April 24, Seattle — Blood Circus

May 14, Olympia — Nirvana play Gilly-Ann Hanner’s birthday party at The Glass House with Lansdat Blister and Sister Skelter

May 21, Olympia — K Dorm at the Evergreen State College. Herd of Turtles, Lansdat Blister

May 28, Olympia— Nirvana play Chris Quinn’s birthday party at The Glass House, Olympia with Sister Skelter

May — In time for an undated Seattle show Chad Channing joins on drums

June 2, Seattle — Chemistry Set

June 17, Ellensburg — King Krab, Lush

July 3, Seattle — Blood Circus, The Fluid

July 23, Seattle — Leaving Trains

July 30, Seattle — Skin Yard

August 20, Olympia — My Name, Swallow

August 29, Seattle — Treacherous Jaywalkers

October undated house party on Bainbridge Island

October 28, Seattle — Blood Circus, Butthole Surfers

October 30, Olympia — K Dorm at the Evergreen State College; Cobain smashes a guitar for the first time. Lansdat Blister and Lush

November 23, Bellingham — Coffin Break, Skin Yard

December 1, Seattle — Coffin Break, D.O.A.

December 21, Hoquiam — Attica, Psychlodds

December 28, Seattle — Blood Circus, Swallow, Tad, the Thrown Ups all play the Sub Pop 200 Record Release Party

1989

January 6, Portland — Mudhoney

January 14 & 24 — Nirvana conclude the recording of Bleach

January 21, Portland

February, Olympia — K Dorm. Helltrout and Psychlodds

February 10, San Francisco, CA

February 11, San Jose, CA — Mudhoney, Vomit Launch

February 25, Seattle — The Fluid, Skin Yard

April 1, Olympia — Helltrout, S.G.M., Tree House

April 7, Seattle — Love Battery

April 14, Ellensburg — King Krab

April 21 — Cobain joins the Go Team and records guitar for the songs “Scratch it Out” and “Bikini Twilight” released on 7” single in July

April 26, Seattle — Steel Pole Bath Tub

May 26, Auburn — Bible Stud, Skin Yard

June 9, Seattle — Mudhoney, Tad

June 10, Portland — Grind

The Bleach album is released on June 15

June 16, Olympia (as Industrial Nirvana) — Lush

June 21, Seattle

June 22, San Francisco, CA — Bad Mutha Goose

June 23, Los Angeles, CA

June 24, Los Angeles, CA — Clawhammer, Stone by Stone

June 25, Tempe, AZ — Crash Worship, Sun City Girls

June 27, Sante Fe, NM — 27 Devils Joking, Monkeyshines

June 30, San Antonio, TX — Happy Dogs, Swaziland White Band

July 1, Houston, TX — Bayou Pigs, David von Ohlerking

July 2, Fort Worth, TX

July 3, Dallas, TX

July 5, Iowa City, IA — Blood Circus

July 6, Minneapolis, MN

July 7, Madison, WI

July 8, Chicago, IL

July 9, Wilkinsburg, PA

July 12, Philadelphia, PA — Napalm Sunday

July 13, Hoboken, NJ — Tad

July 15, Jamaican Plain, MA — Cheater Slicks, Death of Samantha

July 18, New York, NY — Cows, God Bullies, Lonely Moans, Surgery

The Teriyaki Asthma compilation is released in August featuring the Nirvana song “Mexican Seafood”

August 20 & 28 — Cobain and Novoselic take part in The Jury recording sessions

August 26, Seattle — Cat Butt, Mudhoney

September — Nirvana record B-sides for the Blew EP European tour release

September 26, Seattle — Dickless, Knife Dance

September 28, Minneapolis, MN

September 30, Chicago, IL — Eleventh Day Dream

October 1, Champaign, IL — Steel Pole Bath Tub

October 2, Kalamazoo, IL — Steel Pole Bath Tub

October 3, Ann Arbor, MI — Steel Pole Bath Tub

October 4 or 5, Toledo, OH — Steel Pole Bath Tub

October 6, Cincinnati, OH — Grinch

October 7, Lawrence, KS — 24/7 Spyz

October 8, Omaha, NE — Mousetrap

October 11, Denver, CO — The Fluid

October 13, Boulder, CO

October 23, Newcastle, U.K. — The Cateran, Tad

October 24, Manchester, U.K. — The Cateran, Tad

October 25, Leeds, U.K. — The Cateran, Tad

October 26 — Nirvana record a radio session at the BBC Maida Vale Studios, London, U.K. for the John Peel Show

October 27, London, U.K. — The Cateran, Tad

October 28, Portsmouth, U.K. — The Cateran, Tad

October 29, Birmingham, U.K. — Tad

October 30, Norwich, U.K. — Tad

November 1 — Nirvana record a radio session at the Villa 65 studio, Hilversum, the Netherlands for the Nozems-a-Gogo show

November 1, Rotterdam, the Netherlands — Tad

November 2, Groningen, the Netherlands — Tad

November 3, Utrecht, the Netherlands — Tad

November 4, Apeldoorn, the Netherlands — Tad

November 5, Amsterdam, the Netherlands — Tad

November 7, Mönchengladbach, West Germany — Tad

November 8, Cologne, West Germany — Tad

November 9, Hanover, West Germany — Tad

November 10, Enger, West Germany — Tad

November 11, Berlin, West Germany — Tad

November 12, Oldenburg, West Germany — Tad

November 13, Hamburg, West Germany — Tad

November 15, Heidelberg, West Germany — Tad

November 16, Nuremberg, West Germany — Tad

November 17, Gammelsdorf, West Germany — Tad

November 18, Hanau, West Germany — Tad

November 20, Linz, Austria — Tad

November 21, Budapest, Hungary — Tad

November 22, Vienna, Austria — Tad

November 23, Graz, Austria — Tad

November 24, Hohenems, Austria — Tad

November 25, Fribourg, Switzerland — Tad

November 26, Mezzago, Italy — Tad

November 27, Rome, Italy — Tad

November 29, Geneva, Switzerland — Tad

November 30, Zurich, Switzerland — Tad

December 1, Isy-Les-Moulineaux, France — Tad

December 2, Ghent, Belgium — Tad

December 3, London, U.K. — Mudhoney, Tad

The Blew EP is released in the U.K. in early December

1990

January 2-3 — Nirvana enter Reciprocal Recording to record new song “Sappy”

January 6, Seattle — Crunchbird, the Gits, Tad

January 12, Portland — Oily Bloodmen

January 19, Olympia

January 20, Tacoma — Machine, Rhino Humpers

February 9, Portland — Rawhead Rex, Screaming Trees, Tad

February 11, San Jose, CA — Tad, Vegas Voodoo

February 12, Sacramento, CA — Tad, Thornucopia

February 14, San Francisco, CA — Dickless, Tad (two performances took place on this date)

February 15, Hollywood, CA — Distorted Pony, Tad

February 16, Long Beach, CA — Haywire, Tad

February 17, Tijuana, Mexico — Tad

February 19, Phoenix, AZ — Tad

February 21, Chico, CA — Tad

March 12, Vancouver, Canada — the Bombshells, Tad

March 20, Nirvana records their attempt at a formal video at the Evergreen State College

April 1, Chicago, IL — God’s Acre, Bhang Revival

April 2-6 — Nirvana record demos for their (aborted) second Sub Pop album provisionally entitled Sheep at Smart Studios Madison, WI

April 6, Madison, WI — Tad, Victims Family

April 8, Milwaukee, WI

April 9, Minneapolis, MN — Tad, Victim’s Family

April 10, Ann Arbor, MI — Tad, Victim’s Family

April 14, Cincinnati, OH — (Peter Prescott, Volcano Suns: “The show that never happened — think we were to play with them in Cleveland and they canceled, so we never ran into them.”)

April 16, Toronto, Canada

April 17, Montréal, Canada

April 18, Cambridge, MA — The Bags

April 20, Swarthmore, PA

April 21, Cambridge, MA — Slaughter Shack

April 26, New York, NY — Rat at Rat R

April 27, Amherst, MA — 3 Merry Widows, Cordelia’s Dad, Gobblehoof, New Radiant Storm King, Sweet Lickin’ Honey Babes

April 28, Hoboken, NJ — the Jesus Lizard

April 29, Washington D.C. — Loop

April 30, Philadelphia, PA

May 1, Chapel Hill, NC

May 2, Charlotte, NC

May 4, Tampa, FL

May 5, Jacksonville Beach, FL

May 6, Atlanta, GA

May 9, Columbus, OH — Barbed Wire Dolls

May 10, Cincinnati, OH— Coffin Break

May 11, Tulsa, OK

May 13, Lincoln, NE

May 14, Denver, CO — Jux County

May 17, Boise, ID — 24/7 Spyz

July 11 & 24 — Nirvana record the “Sliver” single

The Hard to Believe compilation is released in August featuring Nirvana covering the song “Do You Love Me?” by Kiss

August 16, Las Vegas, NV

August 17, Hollywood, CA

August 19, San Diego, CA — Chemical People

August 20, Sacramento, CA

August 21, San Francisco, CA

August 23, Portland

August 24, Seattle

August 25, Vancouver, Canada

The “Sliver”/”Dive” single is released in September

September 22, Seattle — the Derelicts, the Dwarves

September 25 — Grohl is given an audition at the Dutchman rehearsal rooms in Seattle then Cobain records a radio session for KAOS Radio, Olympia on Calvin Johnson’s Boy Meets Girl show where he announces Grohl has joined Nirvana

The Heaven and Hell compilation is released in October featuring Nirvana covering the song “Here She Comes Now” by the Velvet Underground

October — Cobain joins friends Earth at Smegma Studios, Portland to record vocals for the songs “Bureaucratic Desire for Revenge” and “Divine and Bright”

October 11, Olympia — Witchypoo

October 17, Olympia — Unrest

October 21 — Nirvana record a radio session at the BBC Maida Vale Studios, London, U.K. for the John Peel Show

October 23, Birmingham, U.K.

October 24, London, U.K. — Godflesh

October 25, Leeds, U.K. — Arm, Victims Family

October 26, Edinburgh, U.K. — Shonen Knife, the Vaselines

October 27, Nottingham, U.K. — Shonen Knife

October 29, Norwich, U.K. — Jacob’s Mouse

November 25, Seattle — Heavy into Jeff, Holy Rollers

December 31, Portland — Caustic Soda, Hitting Birth, Roger Nusic, Thrillhammer

1991

Nirvana’s live cover of the Vaselines’ song “Molly’s Lips” is released on a split single with The Fluid in January

January 1 — Nirvana enter the Music Source studio, Seattle to record demos

January 18, Olympia — Fitz of Depression, Helltrout, Nubbin

March 2, Boise, ID — Anxiety Prophets, Blank Frank and the Tattooed Gods

March 4, Calgary, Canada

March 5, Edmonton, Canada

March 8, Vancouver, Canada — Doughboys, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, the Wongs

March 9, Victoria, Canada

April 13, Olympia (Cobain/Grohl with Witchypoo) — Giant Henry, Witchypoo

April 17, Seattle — Fitz of Depression

May 2-28 — Nirvana enter Sound City Studios, Burbank, CA to record Nevermind

May 29, Los Angeles, CA — Fitz of Depression, I Own the Sky

The Grunge Years compilation is released in June featuring the Nirvana song “Dive”

June 1, Olympia (Cobain, Grohl with Witchypoo) — Giant Henry, Witchypoo

June 8, Olympia

June 10, Englewood, CA — the Jesus Lizard

June 11, Salt Lake City, UT

June 13, San Francisco, CA

June 14, Hollywood, CA — Hole

June 15, Tijuana, Mexico

June 17, Sacramento, CA — Kai Kln

June 18, Santa Cruz, CA

June 20, Portland

The Kill Rock Stars compilation is released in August featuring the Nirvana song “Beeswax”

August 15, Hollywood, CA — Wool

August 20, Cork, Ireland

August 21, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland — Mexican Pets, Power of Dreams

August 23, Reading, U.K. — Power of Dreams, Teenage Fanclub

August 24, Cologne, Germany

August 25, Hasselt, Belgium

August 27, Bremen, Germany — Didjits, Gumball

August 28, Halle, Germany

August 29, Stuttgart, Germany

August 30, Nuremberg, Germany

September 1, Rotterdam, the Netherlands — Charmin’ Children, Mudhoney, Paradogs, Son of Bazerk

September 3 — Nirvana record a radio session at the BBC Maida Vale Studios, London, U.K. for the John Peel Show

The “Smells Like Teen Spirit” single is released on September 10

September 16, Seattle

September 20, Toronto, Canada

September 21, Montréal, Canada

September 23, Boston, MA — Cliffs of Doneen

September 24, Boston, MA

September 25, Providence, RI

September 26, New Haven, CT

September 27, Trenton, NJ

September 28, New York, NY — two performances took place on this date

September 30, Pittsburgh, PA

October 1, Philadelphia, PA

October 2, Washington D.C.

October 4, Chapel Hill, NC

October 5, Athens, GA

October 6, Atlanta, GA

October 7, Memphis, TN

October 9, Columbus, OH

October 10, Cleveland, OH

October 11, Detroit, MI

October 12, Chicago, IL

October 14, Minneapolis, MN — two performances took place on this date

October 16, St Louis, MO

October 17, Lawrence, KS — Paw

October 19, Dallas, TX — Sister Double Happiness, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282

October 20, Houston, TX — Sister Double Happiness

October 21, Austin, TX — Sister Double Happiness (two performances took place on this date)

October 23, Tempe, AZ — Sister Double Happiness

October 24, San Diego, CA

October 24, Tijuana, Mexico — Hole, Sister Double Happiness

October 25, Hollywood, CA — Hole, Sister Double Happiness

October 26, San Francisco, CA — Sister Double Happiness

October 27, Hollywood, CA — Hole

October 29, Portland — Mudhoney, Sprinkler

October 30, Vancouver, Canada — Mudhoney

October 31, Seattle — Mudhoney

November 4, Bristol, U.K. — Midway Still

November 5, London, U.K. — Captain America, Television Personalities

November 6, Wolverhampton, U.K. — Captain America

November 9 — Nirvana record a radio session at the BBC Maida Vale Studios, London, U.K. for Mark Goodier’s Evening Sessions

November 10, Berlin, Germany

November 11, Hamburg, Germany

November 12, Frankfurt, Germany

November 13, Munich, Germany

November 14, Vienna, Austria — Skin Yard

November 16, Muggia, Italy

November 17, Mezzago, Italy

November 19, Rome, Italy

November 20, Baricella, Italy

November 23, Ghent, Belgium — Hole

November 25 — Nirvana record their last ever radio session at the NOB Audio studio, Hilversum, the Netherlands for the Nozems-a-Gogo and Twee Meter De Lucht In shows

November 25, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

November 26, Bradford, U.K. — Captain America, Shonen Knife

Nirvana appear on the Top of the Pops TV show in Borehamwood on December 27

November 27, Birmingham, U.K. — Captain America, Shonen Knife

November 28, Sheffield, U.K. — Captain America, Shonen Knife

November 29, Edinburgh, U.K. — Captain America, Shonen Knife

November 30, Glasgow, U.K. — Captain America, Shonen Knife

December 1, Edinburgh, U.K. (as Teen Spirit) — the Joyriders

December 2, Newcastle, U.K. — Captain America, Shonen Knife

December 3, Nottingham, U.K. — Captain America, Shonen Knife

December 4, Manchester, U.K. — Captain America, Shonen Knife

December 5, London, U.K. — Captain America, Shonen Knife

Nirvana appear on the Tonight with Jonathan Ross TV show in London on December 6

December 7, Rennes, France

December 27, Los Angeles, CA

December 28, Del Mar, CA

December 29, Tempe, AZ

December 31, Daly City, CA

1992

January 2, Salem, OR

Nirvana rehearse on January 9 in New York ready for their TV appearance on Saturday Night Live on January 11

Nirvana record a performance for MTV in New York on January 10

January 24, Sydney, Australia — Tumbleweed

January 25, Sydney, Australia

January 26, Gold Coast, Australia

January 27, Brisbane, Australia

January 30, Adelaide, Australia — Tumbleweed

January 31, Melbourne, Australia — The Guttersnipes, Tumbleweed

February 1, Melbourne, Australia — Tumbleweed

February 2, Melbourne, Australia — Tumbleweed

February 5, Canberra, Australia — Tumbleweed

The Hormoaning EP is released in Asia/Pacific on February 5

February 6, Sydney, Australia

February 7, Sydney, Australia — Crow, Nunbait

February 9, Auckland, New Zealand — Second Child

February 14, Osaka, Japan

February 16, Nagoya, Japan

February 17, Kawasaki, Japan

February 19, Tokyo, Japan

February 21, Honolulu, HI

February 22, Honolulu, HI

The “Come as You Are” single is released March 3

The Bleach album is reissued in April

April 7 & one unknown date — Nirvana enter the Laundry Room studio to record B-side material

The Eight Songs for Greg Sage and the Wipers compilation is released in June featuring Nirvana covering “Return of the Rat” by the Wipers

June 21, Dublin, Ireland — Teenage Fanclub

June 22, Belfast, Ireland — Teenage Fanclub

June 24, Paris, France — Teenage Fanclub

June 26, Roskilde, Denmark — Teenage Fanclub

June 27, Turku, Finland — Teenage Fanclub

June 28, Sandvika, Norway — Teenage Fanclub

June 30, Stockholm, Sweden — Teenage Fanclub

July 2, Valencia, Spain — Teenage Fanclub

July 3, Madrid, Spain — Teenage Fanclub

July 4, Bilbao, Spain — Teenage Fanclub

The “Lithium” single is released on July 13

August 30, Reading, U.K. — Bjorn Again, Pele, Shonen Knife, Teenage Fanclub

Nirvana rehearse on September 8 in Los Angeles for their TV appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony on September 9

September 10, Portland — Calamity Jane, Jello Biafra

September 11, Seattle — Fitz of Depression

October 3, Bellingham — Unannounced guest show. Mudhoney, Medelicious, Saucer

October 4, Seattle — Unannounced guest show. Mudhoney

October 25-26 — Nirvana enter the Word of Mouth Productions studio, Seattle (formerly Reciprocal Recording) to record the first demos for their next album

October 29, Buenos Aires, Argentina — Novoselic and Grohl join Pirata Industrial on stage at a nightclub

October 30, Buenos Aires, Argentina — Calamity Jane, Los Brujos

November — Cobain enters the Laundry Room studio to record the guitar part for a single to feature William S. Burroughs. He also joins Melvins in San Francisco for the Houdini sessions

The “In Bloom” single is released on November 30

The Incesticide compilation is released on December 14

1993

January 16, São Paulo, Brazil — Biquíni Cavadão, DeFalla, Dr. Sin

January 19-21 — Nirvana enter the BMG Ariola Ltda studio in Rio de Janeiro to record further demos for their new album. Cobain also takes part in a demo session for Hole on the 21st

January 23, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — Biquíni Cavadão, DeFalla, Dr. Sin

February 12-26— Nirvana enter the Pachyderm Recording studio to record In Utero

The “Oh the Guilt”/”Puss” split-single with the Jesus Lizard is released on February 15

April 9, Daly City, CA — Benefit for the Tresnjevka Women’s Group

May — Cobain enters the Bad Animals studio for the remixing of the “Heart Shaped Box” and “All Apologies” single A-sides

The single “The Priest They Called Him” is released on July 1 featuring Cobain’s guitar work back William S. Burroughs’ reading

July 14-15 — Nirvana rehearse for the New York show on the 23rd with cellist Lori Goldston and second guitarist ‘Big’ John Duncan

July 23, New York, NY — The Jesus Lizard

August 6, Seattle —Hell Smells, Kill Sybil, Tad

The “Heart Shaped Box” single is released on August 30

September 8, New York, NY — Cobain and Courtney Love duet for Rock Against Rape

The In Utero album is released on September 13

Nirvana rehearse on September 23 in New York ready for their TV performance on Saturday Night Live on September 25

October — Cobain joins Hole at Triclops Recording in Atlanta, GA for a demo session

October 14-16 — Nirvana enter Hayvenhurst Studios in Van Nuys, CA to rehearse ready for the In Utero tour

October 18, Phoenix, AZ — Mudhoney

October 19, Albuquerque, NM — Mudhoney

October 21, Kansas City, KS — Mudhoney

October 22, Davenport, IA — Mudhoney

October 23, Chicago, IL — Mudhoney

October 25, Chicago, IL — Mudhoney

October 26, Milwaukee, WI — Mudhoney

Nirvana song “Verse Chorus Verse” (A.K.A. “Sappy”) released on the No Alternative compilation for the Red Hot AIDS Benefit Series on October 26

October 27, Kalamazoo, MI — Boredoms, Meat Puppets

October 29, Detroit, MI — Boredoms, Meat Puppets

October 30, Dayton, OH — Boredoms, Meat Puppets

October 31, Akron, OH — Boredoms, Meat Puppets

November 2, Verdun, Canada — Boredoms, Meat Puppets

The Nirvana song “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die” is released on the Beavis and Butthead Experience compilation on November 3

November 4, Toronto, Canada — Boredoms, Meat Puppets

November 5, Amherst, NY — Boredoms, Meat Puppets

November 7, Williamsburg, VA — Half Japanese

November 8, Philadelphia, PA — Half Japanese

November 9, Bethlehem, PA — Half Japanese

November 10, Springfield, MA — Half Japanese

November 12, Fitchburg, MA — Half Japanese

November 13, Washington D.C. — Half Japanese

November 14, New York — Half Japanese

November 15, New York — Half Japanese

Nirvana rehearse on November 16-17 at a studio in Weehawken, NJ ready for their appearance on MTV Unplugged on November 18 in New York. The Meat Puppets accompany them

November 26, Jacksonville, FL — Come

November 27, Miami, FL — Come

November 28, Lakeland, FL — Come

November 29, Atlanta, GA — Come

December 1, Birmingham, AL — Come

December 2, Tallahassee, FL — Come

December 3, New Orleans, LA — Shonen Knife

December 5, Dallas, TX — Shonen Knife

December 6, Houston, TX — Shonen Knife

The “All Apologies”/”Rape Me” single is released on December 6

December 8, Oklahoma, OK — Shonen Knife

December 9, Omaha, NE — Shonen Knife

December 10, Saint Paul, MN — Shonen Knife

Nirvana fail to rehearse on December 12 ready for their TV appearance on December 13 for MTV Live and Loud. Cypress Hill accompany them

December 14, Salem, OR

December 15, Boise, ID

December 16, Ogden, UT

December 18, Denver, CO

December 29, San Diego, CA — Butthole Surfers, Chokebore

December 30, Inglewood, CA — Butthole Surfers, Chokebore

December 31, Oakland, CA — Butthole Surfers, Chokebore

1994

January 1, Central Point, OR — Butthole Surfers, Chokebore

January 3, Vancouver, Canada — Butthole Surfers, Chokebore

January 4, Vancouver, Canada — Butthole Surfers, Chokebore

January 6, Spokane — Butthole Surfers, Chokebore

January 7, Seattle — Butthole Surfers, Chokebore

January 8, Seattle — Butthole Surfers, Chokebore

January 28-30, Seattle — Last ever Nirvana recording session

Nirvana appear on the Nulle Part Ailleurs TV show in Paris on February 4

February 6, Cascais, Portugal — Buzzcocks

February 8, Madrid, Spain — Buzzcocks

February 9, Barcelona, Spain — Buzzcocks

February 10, Toulouse, France — Buzzcocks

February 12, Toulon, France — Buzzcocks

February 14, Paris, France — Buzzcocks

Nirvana’s last ever photo session takes place late on February 14/early on February 15 in Paris

February 16, Rennes, France — Buzzcocks

February 18, Grenoble, France — Buzzcocks

February 21, Modena, Italy — Flor de Mal

February 22, Marino, Italy — Flor de Mal

Nirvana make their last ever TV appearance on the Tunnel TV show in Rome on February 23

February 24, Milan, Italy

February 25, Milan, Italy

February 27, Ljubljana, Slovenia

March 1, Munich, Germany — Nirvana’s last ever show

March 4, Rome, Italy — Cobain hospitalized

March 8, Rome, Italy — Cobain released from hospital

March 12, SeaTac Airport — Cobain returns home

March 25, Seattle — Drug intervention at Cobain’s home. Cobain records his last demo session with Pat Smear in the basement of the house

March 30, Los Angeles — Cobain arrives at rehab

April 1, Los Angeles — Cobain leaves rehab

April 5, Seattle — Cobain commits suicide

April 8, Seattle — Cobain’s body found

9781550228779

A couple of books acted as role models and inspirations during the writing of “I Found My Friends” – one was England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage, the other was Greg Prato’s Grunge is Dead. Being a quizzical soul I decided to write to Greg and learn a bit more about his work, share some of mine with him and so forth – turns out he’s a charming fellow and was more than happy to tell all about Grunge is Dead and to permit me to share it with you. Please enjoy…

When was your first contact with the grunge scene, how did it come about?

Greg Prato: The first grunge band I fancied was Soundgarden, first via seeing the “Hands All Over” video on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, but I truly became a big-time admirer of the band after seeing them live in Brooklyn, NY in March 1990, on a bill that also featured Faith No More and Voivod (the latter of which headlined!). I then bought Mother Love Bone’s ‘Apple’ later in the year (after reading great things about it in Rip Magazine), followed by Alice in Chains’ ‘Facelift’ in spring 1991. From there, I discovered Nirvana and Pearl Jam just like the majority of other non-Washington folks did…

Similarly, at what point did you decide that the kind of epic work you must have put in to construct “Grunge is Dead” kick in…?

Greg: I felt very disappointed that seemingly as soon as Kurt Cobain died, rock music regressed to the largely unoriginal copycats that plagued rock music in the late ’80s (and that the very progressive way of thinking that Nirvana and Pearl Jam championed had regressed back to the groupie/rock star vibe of the Sunset Strip in the ’80s). This only seemed to get worse throughout the late ’90s and early 21st century (Creed, Kid Rock, etc.). While there were a few books written about grunge before ‘Grunge is Dead,’ many were either hard to follow chronologically or were written before main events took place (Cobain’s death, Soundgarden’s split, Layne Staley’s death, etc.). So, I set out to put together a definitive book that told the complete history of Seattle rock music, and interviewed as many people as possible.

What hooked you about grunge? I’ve noted you did a book on Blind Melon, quite a few on aspects of Seventies/Eighties music culture (and sports), is there a natural link with your other works?

Greg: I’m lucky that so far, all the books I have written, have been on subjects that I was a fan of, and wanted to read a book about and there wasn’t one. Since I’ve been a journalist since 1997, I felt it wouldn’t be that big of a stretch to make the jump to book writing, and it wasn’t bad at all! Certain rock n’ roll bands and sports teams have been a long-time interest of mine, so writing books about them seemed like the logical step.

Did the book get a reaction from the fan communities for grunge or for any specific bands like Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, etc.?

Greg: I’ve received a lot of great feedback from fans of all the grunge bands, and also the majority of user comments on such sites as Amazon. It makes me feel good to hear whenever someone fancies one of my books (as I put a lot of work into each project, and feel strongly about each subject I tackle).

Similarly, what was the diversity of reaction? I’m assuming almost entirely positive? Any fun responses or moments of madness…?

Greg: From what I recall (the book was originally released in 2009), there wasn’t many harsh criticisms about ‘Grunge is Dead,’ it was mostly positive. A few people may be a bit befuddled about the oral history set-up (it being comprised of quotes from the people I interviewed pertaining to specific subjects) and wanted there to be a narrative that I provided throughout – but that was exactly what I did NOT want to do with the book. I am not from Seattle and I was not lucky to have experienced the early shows of Soundgarden, Nirvana, etc., but I interviewed plenty of people who were there. Let the people who were actually there tell the true story…

Did you come to the project with your connections already fully formed? If not, how did you go about tracking people down?

Greg: The germ of the idea for the book started with a feature story I wrote for Classic Rock Magazine around 2004/2005, which focused on Soundgarden’s history. After doing several interviews for it (Ben Shepherd, Matt Cameron, Jack Endino, etc.), I realized I had a good start for a possible book on Soundgarden, but then realized why not go for the whole enchilada – GRUNGE!! From there, it was like a snowball rolling down a tall, snowy mountain – the more interviews I did, the more people recommended others I should speak to. I obeyed their requests!

Is there an interview you were particular proud to acquire and why…?

Greg: Without a doubt, Eddie Vedder. To the best of my knowledge, his interview for ‘Grunge is Dead’ is the only time he was willing to open up and recount Pearl Jam’s early history (he declined to do so for a Rolling Stone cover story around the same time) – years before he was interviewed for the book that Pearl Jam eventually did, ‘Pearl Jam Twenty.’ He was also kind enough to be interviewed for nearly 2 hours, willing to give thorough answers to all my questions. It remains one of my favorite interviews I’ve ever conducted (and having begun doing interviews in 1997 as a journalist, I’ve done hundreds over the years).

Similarly, what was the most revealing interview in your opinion?

Greg: I appreciated the openness and honesty of quite a few people, tops being Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and the Dwarves’ Blag Dahlia. I was not aware that Mark had a drug problem during the early ’90s, but was very open and honest about it (I even told him during the interview that I had no idea he had a drug problem in the early ’90s – I hadn’t read about it ever before in all the Mudhoney articles I had read over the years). And Blag was very funny and very witty – he had some great memories/stories and also some interesting theories that I had never thought of before until he explained them (including how he saw more similarities between Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses, rather than differences).

Was there anything you’d say was a shared characteristic, attitude, style, approach to life among the individuals you spoke to? I’m always curious what communities share that binds them…

Greg: There definitely seemed to be a strong sense of community between most of the grunge bands – quite a few people interviewed said that when you’d go from show to show during the mid to late ’80s, you’d see the same group of people there. But as the style of music became more popular in the early ’90s, that group was nowhere to be found anymore at local shows – replaced by strangers and out of town folks who flocked to Seattle.

Do you feel that grunge has been mischaracterized and misunderstood over the years?

Greg: There’s a misconception that grunge killed heavy metal in the ’90s. This is incorrect. While it did put an end to the majority of stinky hair metal bands (thank god!), plenty of metal bands continued to survive thrive post-‘Nevermind’ (Metallica, Faith No More, Pantera, White Zombie, Ministry, etc.).

You seemed to approach the structure of the book by speaking about wider aspects then homing in on particular bands who pushed the scene further – was there an intentional structure?

Greg: While there is certainly a focus on the better known grunge bands in the book, I wanted to also share the spotlight and focus on lesser-known but really great bands from the area/era, including the U-Men, Tad, Truly, Brad, etc.

For someone who hasn’t picked up the book, why does the oral history format make so much sense when trying to capture a real live experience such as the grunge scene? I think it was totally the right choice to make and a definitely inspiration to me.

Greg: I first discovered the oral history format by reading what has become one of my fav all-time books, ‘Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk,’ by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. As I mentioned earlier, I like the fact that the reader is getting the story “straight from the horse’s mouth,” so to speak, and not a bunch of thoughts/opinions by someone who wasn’t part of the scene (in fact, Soundgarden/Nirvana/Mudhoney producer Jack Endino offered up a very nice compliment that is posted on the book’s Amazon page – “I like this book. It lets the people who were actually here tell the story directly, without the author having any particular axe to grind”). As I’d like to consider myself somewhat knowledgable with the topic, I was able to ask the questions and shape a story (in chronological order) out of all the quotes.

What was your personal path to Rolling Stone and AllMusic and your other outlets? I can’t imagine it was an easy journey, you must have worked like a dog!

Greg: It wasn’t as hard as you’d think – both gigs were landed by either a simple phone call or email. It’s the same with any site or publication – they want to see some writing samples, they give you a tryout, and then if they like what they read, you can write on a regular basis.

Musically, what has been floating your boat most recently? Do you think there’s any visible new movements in rock music that might pierce mass consciousness?

Greg: I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that the majority of mainstream rock is a big pile of steaming doo-doo. But like any era, there is going to be good music and stinky music. In fact, I’m sure as I’m typing this right now, there is a band just starting out (or is in the underground) that will sooner or later leave their mark, and offer up their own original sound/spin on rock n’ roll. The last bands that I really truly dug were Eagles of Death Metal and Death From Above 1979, but both are like, at least a decade old by now! Nowadays, I tend to listen to bands I’ve loved for years (as a matter of fact, as I type this answer, I am listening to Devo’s ‘Hardcore Devo Live!’ album on my headphones). Does this mean I’ve become an old fart?

Is there a band or scene that you’d love to settle down and write a volume on? S’ok if you want to keep your cards close to your chest!

Greg: Right before I started on these answers today, I took a break from proofreading my next book about a specific rock n’ roll era of yesteryear. I hope to have it out later in 2015, but I’d hate to spoil the surprise of announcing the subject matter at this moment. I’d suggest checking my Twitter page on which I regularly post my latest interviews for sites and info about upcoming books:

https://twitter.com/gregpratowriter

Also, feel free to check out my author page on Amazon, which lists all of my books:

http://www.amazon.com/Greg-Prato/e/B002MJ4CXI

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DSCN0755

Courtesy of Pim Arts over on the LiveNirvana site…

https://uk.yahoo.com/movies/first-trailer-for-unflinching-kurt-cobain-film-113342300161.html

http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/03/courtney-love-suing-person-behind-this-fake-nirvana-song-called-flaccid-bone/

Immediate respect to Mr. John Jung for passing this on to me – how fascinating. If the individual who started this whole sorry tale wanted attention they’ve certainly got it. Incidentally, to focus on more positive issues worthy of attention, do check the Facebook pages for Monkeywrench and Bloodloss, two early Mark Arm bands – John supports both pages.

First things first, it’s very visibly a fake. If this was a Nirvana cut then it’d be near incredible for it to be so fully formed yet not to arise in the comprehensive record of Nirvana studio work. Similarly, a full Nirvana cut in this type of quality that wasn’t recorded in studio? Near impossible on the technology of the time – this isn’t a pre-digital or early-digital effort. if you wanted to dissect it further then instrumentally there are plenty of points where the ‘squareness’ of the backing doesn’t match Nirvana’s more fluid style – that’s even before one gets to the voice. The treatments applied in an attempt to make it sound more like Cobain, or at least to veil it, are pretty ineffective – it just isn’t Cobain.

Second things, do I believe there really is going to be a legal action? Not really. I feel it’s more like a ‘cease and desist’ situation. There is a valid claim that the back story the person has constructed involving thieving from Courtney Love, involving hacking into supposedly digitized archives, is pretty fair reason for a mild bit of legal action – they’re using Courtney as a source of legitimacy to try and back up the credibility of their fake. I think it’s a warning shot – but I’m also sure locating the individual concerned isn’t a difficult business. One view might be “why is Courtney bothering if it isn’t real?” I think it isn’t unreasonable for her to be pretty annoyed by the individual concerned and the way they’ve formulated things – I can also imagine that having been recently involved in the premieres of “Montage of Heck” perhaps issues involving Kurt Cobain are sensitive right now? But I’m speculating. I see no reason why the threat of legal action should make anyone doubt that this is a fake song.

A shame in a way, there’s clearly a talented musician or group of musicians at work behind the smokescreen. And I don’t mind fakes really – it keeps collectors on their toes, is an irritant at best, an understandable attempt to get a rise out of people…And sometimes, just sometimes, I can see why people would want to test themselves against the individuals they see as the finest examples of their art. On the other hand, however, it does soak up the time and the minds of people who put a lot into sourcing lost Nirvana material, it is a bit tiresome hearing another awful impersonation – the joke gets old pretty quick. I mainly shrug and feel a little bit sorry for people – it isn’t worth being annoyed about.

In the meantime, yep, guess you may have noticed, the team at my publisher for “I Found My Friends” arranged for the final chapter to be provided to SPIN and ESQUIRE magazine on Friday. I confess it was a nice surprise – I didn’t know about either, I only found out when people sent me the links. Naturally I blush that there’s a lazy factual error (Daniel or Calvin Johnson? Oops…) that came about when I was rushing during the post-completion editing process – I think I even seeing it but not reading it properly. Naturally though I just hope you enjoy the chapter. I wanted it to not be about Cobain’s death – this book was about the memories of the musicians who shared the stages with Nirvana, who shared the band’s life in the underground, so though it couldn’t be ignored, his death wasn’t as important to me as so many good lives in the book. Likewise, I wanted to make some small mark of respect to other people who lost someone close, to other musicians who didn’t survive. Having felt loss these past years I think it is a special feeling, I think our loved ones deserve our pain, and that both Kurt Cobain AND the others mentioned all deserve to be recalled by those who cared for them. Paying small respect was the least I could do.

Here’s the links if you didn’t see them. Book is out March 31 in the U.S., it’ll be much later on European sites.

http://www.spin.com/articles/nick-soulsby-oral-history-of-nirvana-excerpt/

Full chapter at Esquire:

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/books/a33510/nirvana-kurt-cobain-book-excerpt-i-found-my-friends/

As a passing comment, there are hundreds of comments on the relevant Facebook posts for Spin and Esquire. My favourite was the one stating that they suspect I’ve been paid by Courtney Love to write the book. Gosh, she’s one impressive woman – to pay off 210 people from 170 bands, plus my agent, the team at the publisher…Incredible. On a personal note, if anyone is looking for a ghost writer I’d totally go for it! ;-)

http://m.spin.com/articles/nick-soulsby-oral-history-of-nirvana-excerpt/?utm_source=spinfacebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=spinfacebook

So, everyone taken a moment with a Nirvana song today…?

I admit I usually avoid writing just to mark the occasion of Kurt Cobain’s birthday or his death either. This site has been going some two and a bit years, there are 400 posts up here and though I’ve been running low on the deeper analyses that I prefer to run I’ve never felt much need to switch over to thinking my random musings are anywhere near as good or interesting as some proper discussion of a big meaty Nirvana topic. So I’ve always felt I’ll write when there’s something to say, not just to mark an occasion.

But breaking that habit…Even today I spoke to two separate people who both said “I remember where I was when he died.”

I don’t think Kurt Cobain was ‘more special’ than anyone. While writing “I Found My Friends” I learnt of more than a dozen musicians who played alongside Nirvana and died tragically young – they’re each worth remembrance by those who loved them. But that’s where I find the point to be. It’s not about superstars and god-heads and icons and saints. It’s about people who have connected with one’s life. Cobain reached a position where millions felt that connection, some form of link – and that’s worthy of respect. There’s no disrespect in the way he commands a wider reach than one’s own lost loved ones; more people mourning or remembering doesn’t mean the remembrance is of greater value, nor does remembering someone you may or may not have seen or met in person devalue it. Sometimes people sneer at feeling expressed toward something one did not experience or someone one never met – but they’re wrong to privilege their personal lived reality so highly as to ignore the many things that impact our lives, that are of significance, that we don’t touch or speak to directly. Those things are also worthy of note and remembering too.

As I said, I don’t think Cobain was ‘more special’ but I truly do think he deserves to be seen as an inspirational figure. Social mobility, the dream of the equal playing field where anyone can rise from the bottom to the top is – frankly – a damned lie these days as money entrenches privilege to a degree not seen in America ever and in the U.K. since the days of rule by the aristocracy. Only a tiny number will make it, but that’s no reason to be cynical about their achievement – it shows it can be done, it shows the limitations too, but it is worth admiring and wanting to make happen. These past few years I’ve felt truly privileged to speak to musicians, writers, artists and instigators the world over – it’s amazing to see people putting their time and energy into making anything that is about self-expression not just about money, or obeying orders, or pleasing others. All of it, from the smallest effort, is worth respect and celebration. Cobain’s ability to go from semi-homeless, emotionally damaged drop-out to the pinnacle of his chosen field is a testament to hard work, to compromise, to non-compromise, to the support of others and to self-sufficiency all at once. We can celebrate all those things for the part they played rather than privileging one over the other.

I also think Cobain’s rise provides an example of how to live. I don’t want to live fast and die young. I don’t want to leave grieving relatives alongside an immortal reputation. But I do want to believe that there’s a lot more to life than acquiring excessive cash, exercising power over others, doing what it takes to be popular. Standing here seven years after the worst downturn since the 1930s, looking at the evidence of banks manipulating entire markets, bankers actively deceiving democratically elected governments, the media stealing data from ordinary people just to make a story or corrupting coverage to protect wealthy investors…I’m glad to look on Kurt Cobain as a hero of mine for reaching a position where he could have had all the corrupt indulgence he wished…And decided he didn’t want it.

I also think looking at Cobain’s sad end made me think about what kinds of heroes I want and what about them I’d like to live up to. At the moment I think Hervé Falciani is one of the bravest men I’ve ever witnessed – he has risked life and liberty to expose that a bank was laundering money for drug gangs, purchasing equipment to be relayed to them, deliberately helping people who felt that only the ‘plebs’ like you or I should pay for the infrastructure of our country. Looking across the last few years I look at Mohammed Bouazizi – maybe the future isn’t what we hoped in 2011 it might be but one man acted, did what he felt was right, and brought down governments who had stood with a foot on people’s throats for decades. Who can still believe that they, one person alone, can make no difference in this life after that moment? When I look at the inspiration Cobain has provided to people to do things with their lives I see a lot of goodness. People can change the world or they can just change the lives of those who know and love them. Again, both are worthy of respect – both mean that you, I, we matter.

Thinking back on Nirvana now in February 2014 I do get self-indulgent; my grandfather died one week before I visited Seattle for the first time – I can’t think of Seattle without missing him. My father died the week I handed in “I Found My Friends” – I can’t think of the book without missing him. My godfather died just weeks ago – I’ll never think of these days before the book release without missing him. But I also think that losing people I love meant I appreciated more how much pain people must have experienced when Cobain died – that it was a personal experience for them and speaking of him needs to be treated respectfully because he wasn’t just some TV screen or on vinyl ghost.

Anyways. Happy Cobain Birthday to every true fan out there. Hope there’ll be a lot of Nirvana pleasures ahead this year and there’ll be something each of you chooses to do to make your lives or the lives of those you love that bit more amazing in 2015.

2015 promises to be a bit of a bumper year it seems for film treatments of the band Nirvana…Or, more precisely, of Kurt Cobain. The rise/fall model, plus the icon status accorded to Cobain since his death, place him in a separate category to the average superstar musician – he’s into the realm of Elvis, Lennon, Hendrix, Ian Curtis…There’s a dependency on the ‘one man’ model of cinema in which a plot is played out via a central character who must possess certain talismanic qualities. Retelling the story of Nirvana thus becomes a retelling of the tale of Kurt Cobain because, let’s be fair, without his remarkable rise to fame and his tragic ending there’d probably not be a cinema interest in him and he’d be confined to the same fan-only band releases as most artists on music DVDs. What I want to do here is just briefly glimpse over the record of Nirvana and Cobain on film from the earliest commercial release through to the present, ignoring (mostly) performance releases like Live at Reading.

The progress of Nirvana on film commences with brief appearances in Dave Markey’s 1991: the Year Punk Broke. Released at the peak of Nirvanamania, it captured Nirvana in August 1991 playing sideshow to Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth – just one band among peers. This entire vibe was emphasised by the back stage footage of the friends pranking around and amusing each other – a community feel. Cobain wasn’t even a particularly elevated presence though perhaps he did gain a little more airtime than his colleagues it was the scantest difference. It’s a great music film incidentally, lots of neat asides about what was already occurring prior to the eruption of Nevermind. Thurston Moore’s famous declaration about 1991 as the year that punk broke was made prior to Nirvana becoming the world’s biggest band – a prescient comment. I’d have a suspicion that more Nirvana footage was incorporated during the editing process across 1992 given what had subsequently happened to the band – a comment on sudden lucrativeness.

Next came Nirvana’s own attempt to speak to their experience. Live! Tonight! Sold Out! (1994) is mainly remembered – rightly – as a stitched together compilation of band performances. I’d suggest, however, that it’s the first real attempt to make a cinematic treatment of the Nirvana tale. The format worked out by Kurt Cobain himself in collaboration with Kevin Kerslake and his team is a montage piecing together chunks of Cobain’s own collection of interview footage, back stage material and whatever else band members had taped of one another over the year. There isn’t necessarily a storyline, it’s more a portrayal of a single moment in Nirvana’s career – a whirl of 1992 confusion which still manages to be, at times, amusing, funny, irreverent as well as confused and disjointed and uncertain. While the net is cast relatively wide in terms of gathering material, there are still limitations and the mood remains rooted in that one location and in a certain petulant aggression aimed at fame and the Nirvana mythos at that moment in time when Cobain was contemplating its creation. Still, it’s a starting point. There are similarities to Nirvana’s earlier appearance in 1991: the Year Punk Broke and the timing seems non-coincidental – Markey’s film came out in December 1992 with Cobain having already started discussions and some work earlier that year with Kerslake as the vision of what the ‘film’ would be expanded. Ultimately what stops it advancing is the In Utero tour and the sad end of Cobain but this might have been something more. Still, it sits comfortably in the band DVD realm currently.

The next big endeavour took a few years to emerge. Kurt and Courtney (1998), I’ll admit, is entertaining as heck. Hand on heart, I don’t believe the murder conspiracies, but that’s irrelevant to this tale of watching a guy trying to make a film. Given the experiences the Cobain couple had in 1992-1993 with outsiders prying into their lives and running around asking anyone and everyone for tales, I’m not hugely surprised that Nick Broomfield’s bull in a china shop haring about was ever going to make him appealing. Again, irrelevant. The result is a rather scattershot enterprise combining the interviews he acquires with his own narration and ‘making of’ tale that set the style for films about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana – focused on death, often ad-libbed or experimental in approach, not necessarily an advert for slickness. It’s a talking heads set-up in the main but there are enough people who are interesting to see talk to make it rewarding. Wonderfully it could be taken as a fine argument for or against the conspiracy tales given everyone in the movie – barring his aunt who thinks he committed suicide – comes across as unusual if not outright embittered or loopy. Please take that as a statement of opinion not fact of course – give it a watch, have fun! It marked the emerging focus on the death of Cobain as the moment of critical public interest beyond Nirvana fans and music fans, the piece that made it social/cultural history rather than just music ‘stuff’.

As an aside, I’m not neglecting the ongoing procession of straight-to-DVD interview and commentary collections that have emerged; I just gave up on them after a bit through no great fault of there’s. You’ll know the ones – Teen Spirit, All Apologies, the Nevermind ‘making of’ disc, there’s one on my shelf called ‘Too Young to Die’ which is a taping of a German TV show…Nothing to add on them except the obvious marketability of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana – with Cobain being the bigger draw. He’s overshadowing his own band.

By the next decade Cobain’s standing had truly grown. The band of which he was a part has kinda become back story at most to the crucial figure as Cobain becomes a dramatic model – a template for whatever one wishes, doomed youth? Wronged victim? Man? Last Days (2005) performed a thinly fictionised take on Cobain’s final week in Seattle on the lam. Again, no pretence that my perspective on the film is the only one possible, but as a cinematic experience there comes a point where the absence of a plot creates a definite level of boredom. It’s a film perfect for those who believe myths of the millennial generation’s ennui, who believe that there really are millions of people out there just gazing blankly at mirrors then hoping people look at them. Ultimately there’s nothing to the film bar staring at the main character in various states of dress/undress, activity/inactivity, glasses on/off – other people are barely relevant. There’s an absence of any commentary on the subject – but there’s also an absence of any commentary from the subject either. By taking no stance, placing no words in the character’s mouth, there’s a void. Being charitable I’d point out that it allows meaning to be imposed and created by the observer – the puppet’s head fills with whatever one might wish. A contrast with the director’s work Elephant, however, is that in Elephant there’s an end point building amid the lives being lived that maintains a tension and creates forward motion – that’s gone here.

About a Son (2006) was a further experiment in documentary-making. Michael Azerrad’s tapes of Cobain in interview across autumn/winter 1992 and spring 1993 were combined with a tourist guide video of Cobain related scenery and locales. Criticisms that could be levelled are that the reliance on one set of interviews, from one specific time in Cobain’s life, creates a uniformity of mood and perspective – a certain deadness. Similarly it spray-paints over Cobain’s sometimes flexible relationship with truth – not a criticism of him, we all embellish and tell stories differently depending on time and place – without any corrective provided by other sources. I’ve commented on the film before that Cobain basically flames an awful lot of people and places in the recordings – a negative posture that doesn’t leave much room for warmth. I guess that’s my ultimate criticism perhaps, that while a very watchable (and listenable) film, it still circles the ‘tragic end’ school of cinema because it’s hard not to get to the end without thinking; “gee, this guy was gloomy and depressed and negative,” which seems such a one dimensional vision…

So, onwards to the New Year – two new entries. Soaked in Bleach comes out later this year and, at least judging by early material, there’s been substantial effort expended on it with full scale replicas of required locations and attention to the kind of knit-picking detail that keeps the average conspiracy buff typing in capital letters to their heart’s content. Essentially it’s the Cobain death trip retold by private investigator Tom Grant – if you’ve absorbed the material in the two Halperin books, plus the material on Grant’s own website then you’ll pretty much have what to expect plot-wise. More intriguing, of course, is that this is a cinematic experience and therefore it’ll be nice to see how they approach it, portray it, explore it. There are live actors involved, various people interviewed – I’m expecting a combination of re-enactment coupled with talking heads and voiceovers but we’ll see.

All of which rambling brings me to Montage of Heck, this year’s other major Cobain film. Again, I’ve not seen it, others have, the reviews are floating around – why am I particularly pleased to see it? Well, the other week the director Brett Morgen explained his reasons for leaving Cobain’s death well-alone (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/28/the-secret-life-of-kurt-cobain-brett-morgen-s-eye-opening-documentary-montage-of-heck.html). It’s certainly a little mischievous as an explanation, it’s not like the film doesn’t sound haunted by Cobain’s death, it’s not like it doesn’t set up ‘reasons’ for the end – death is coming and it is in the room regardless of where the film cuts. However, when looking back over the record of Cobain as a cinema experience it’s a pleasure to contemplate a film that extends beyond Cobain as ghost voice speaking at a difficult moment as part of a campaign to orchestrate positive stories about Nirvana/Cobain (and to fill the hole awaiting a book about the band and its lead singer) and focuses more on birth and life. It’s interest in him as a person rather than as a whodunit is what makes me feel pretty warmly toward it – a fuller entity rather than just an episode. The yardstick against which I’m judging it is the Tupac: Resurrection movie – which was basically a hagiography which glossed an awful lot of the unpleasantness in the life of Tupac Shakur in favour of a rousing application for contemporary sainthood. Morgen’s effort takes a similar approach – combining footage sources from throughout his life with his own voice recordings – but seems far more personal; the core of Resurrection stemmed from more commercial sources like TV interviews, video shoots and so forth rather than the personal archive and self-filmed/self-recorded matter Cobain and his loved ones built up. The weaving of multiple source formats – art, music, journals, spoken word recordings, video recordings – also feels original and leads me toward a strong degree of positivity here. Eight years in the making? Sheesh, it’s just nice to see a genuinely new cinematic take.

Is there anything left to say after 2015? Oh, there’ll always be someone willing to give it a shot. My presumption is the full-on biopic must be out there somewhere… Otherwise, I’m uncertain. One varied reprisal would be the lacing of interview material from multiple sources and eras (there’s enough of it out there) to reprise the About a Son approach with greater diversity of sources. Similarly, tales of Nirvana created in that way might be a possibility given the official Nirvana DVDs have made scant use of the interview footage. Maybe the Spinal Tap style comedy treatment is somewhere down the line…