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…

http://www.thevinylfactory.com/vinyl-factory-releases/young-god-10-early-swans-records-you-need-to-hear/

I was invited to contribute this to the Vinyl Factory (previously benefactors who permitted me to rave about the Pacific North West – http://www.thevinylfactory.com/vinyl-factory-releases/beyond-nirvana-10-essential-under-the-radar-grunge-records-from-the-seattle-era/) essentially just yelling “SWANS are awesome!!!” at everyone in a foam-flecked and spitting mass of shiny-eyed, head-rushed devotion.

It’s not a ‘top ten’, it’s simply a declaration of ten Swans releases from the 1982-1998 period that I feel best represent the band in particular eras or that are particularly unique and rewarding. Certainly it’d be hard to ever claim Swans were a ‘nice’ band, their concerns were deeply metaphysical; flesh as an anchor forcing compromise and failure upon the soul and spirit, the voluntary subjugation of mind and soul beneath ideologies and social arrangements, the potential for oblivion as the only freedom, the eventual declarations of scorn upon those who ignored the band and blunt statements of the end of the project. Cheery stuff for a Wednesday but genuinely superlative and significant music.

1989, the year Nirvana go from being nobodies to somebodies. I think that’s a fair statement – genius doesn’t just live out there with a pre-allotted meeting with destiny all set up so that definitely everyone of true talent is captured, noticed and gets to where they’re going. Regardless of Nirvana’s talents they needed support, product that people might actually be able to see, supporters able to get them in front of bigger audiences, media coverage to lure in a few more eyes…Otherwise they’d just be another band playing great stuff in obscurity on lo-fi equipment, recorded on the cheap, performed over junk PA systems in butt-end of nowhere clubs.

Nirvana needed Sub Pop – Sub Pop needed decent bands. But in 1989 it was clear that Tad were higher up the pecking order while Mudhoney were at the top. And that’s just the running order on one label, it doesn’t reflect how far down the ‘grunge’/’Seattle’ buzz running Nirvana were. It’s trick getting back in that mindset really – to the idea of a future superstar as a band that hasn’t played anywhere except at home, that can’t keep a drummer (even Chad is barely over the six months in), that has a single out that no one can get hold of and one song on a compilation that isn’t exactly spread far and wide.

Nirvana’s tentativeness is visible physically. They pop down to Portland then retreat home. They stretch themselves a little further and hit a couple of venues in California, then home. They ramble about Washington State catching time with Sub Pop bands and local friends – there’s always a ‘buddy’ along which saves Sub Pop a bit of cash and helps promote the label all in one. Nirvana are, to the greatest degree, at the beck and call of forces beyond their control. Album recorded by early January but requires a while for the label to get it manufactured and out into the world. Tour awaiting the label’s acquisition of a van – Nirvana aren’t really self-starters when it comes to self-releasing or self-promoting, others do it for them. But still, its progress…

I interviewed members of 170 bands for the “I Found My Friends” book, the following list is intended to show which gigs those bands played alongside Nirvana – just as a guide to coverage and scope. Hope its looking good to you… March 31, oh I am definitely looking forward to it…

1989
January 6, Portland — Mudhoney
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 26, Seattle — Steel Pole Bath Tub
May 26, Auburn — Bible Stud, Skin Yard
June 9, Seattle — Mudhoney, Tad
June 10, Portland — Grind
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
August 20 & 28 — Cobain and Novoselic take part in The Jury recording sessions — Screaming Trees
August 26, Seattle — Cat Butt, Mudhoney
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 27, London, U.K. — The Cateran, Tad
October 28, Portsmouth, U.K. — The Cateran, Tad
October 29 until December 2 — Tad
December 3, London, U.K. — Tad, Mudhoney

This is definitely personal pride creeping in – going to have to ask for your forgiveness but I wanted to talk more about the people who were willing to lend not just their thoughts to the book but their names to the front/back cover of the book…I blushed asking them if they would do it and felt truly honoured and delighted they would make statements of support like this. My dearest hope is that when each person involved in the book finally sees it, that they’ll feel I did them credit and respected the lives they’ve led and the memories they gave.

For a start, I need to thank three Nirvana drummers for their care and supportiveness. After our brief encounter in Olympia back in late 2013 I dropped Aaron Burckhard a call and asked him if he’d be game to answer a very brief set of questions for me – he stepped out of a party and said “sure Nick, right on!” Damn good of him. With everyone involved I just tried to be respectful and not bombard anyone – given I’d pulled Aaron out of a social engagement I kept focused. What I wanted to ask him about was often clarification around things other people had raised, points regarding Nirvana’s early songs – their creation, his contributions to those songs, the elements that were his work – then about early shows and, of course, his departure. Often in the book I didn’t necessarily use his statements except as emphasis, plus he’s a funny guy, a good speaker.

Going back to him early last year about the cover quotation I explained what I was asking of him, again, no problem – he just asked what kind of thing I felt would be right…I just said I didn’t want to put words in his mouth but just for him to say something about working with me, about being part of the book…I think this is kinda perfect:

“This guy really gives a sh** about what we went through back in the day!”—Aaron Burckhard, drummer for Nirvana and Under Sin

Dave Foster, likewise, was a gentleman I wanted to approach properly. Basically I’ve been itching to speak to him because, put simply, I feel his time in the band is the last true ‘black hole’ in the story of Nirvana. He’s the man on the drums when the band first play Seattle, he’s the guy playing when they first spark Sub Pop’s interest (even if the recordings were of Dale Crover) and he’s playing when a number of the songs prepared for Bleach first make an appearance…These are significant moments I feel. So, we spoke a while, it was clear he actually still has a lot of feelings about his time with the band – in the end Cobain is still a friend he lost in tragic circumstance and that was clear. Similarly it was clear that the harsh words and stereotype of his cast about in early books and articles by both the band and certain writers has hurt him – there’s an understandable feeling that revealing things that, for him, are private and personal, has not necessarily led to kind or respectful treatment of him. Again, that’s a sad thing. Ultimately, what we did was I prepared the chapter I wanted to write, via the memories of the numerous bands and individuals who were part of that era – including his comrades in Helltrout with whom he played from sometime in late 1988 – did what I felt was justice to the topic and then showed him the chapter. I didn’t know how he would react but he was genuinely so courteous, he didn’t ask for changes to be made, he didn’t get angry…I’m genuinely pretty proud of the chapter entitled “the Lost Drummer” because I feel it’s a gap that needed reassessment and reconsideration. I felt he deserved to be acknowledged and not just dismissed regardless of how the relationship worked out and why. I still feel he has a story to tell but the key, for me, is that it’s HIS story and maybe someday he’ll tell it. I owe him a beer.

Again, as I wrapped up the book I went back to him and just asked if he’d consider being quoted on the cover…And he exceeded my expectations hugely:

“Nick was a pleasure to work with on this project and was respectful of boundaries, which is something I cannot say about other writers I’ve been contacted by.”—Dave Foster, drummer for Nirvana and Mico de Noche

A brief pause, Chad Channing deserves a thank you at this point though his support took different forms. Chad has quite clearly been pummeled by writers, fans, reviewers over the years and quite definitely sounds pretty bored about being asked to dredge up memories of just two years in a creative life that has endured three full decades – wouldn’t you be? What he did for me instead of taking questions was to put me in touch with a couple of his contacts and I feel I covered his time fairly – sheesh, I do not think he was well treated by Krist and Kurt on the final tour in April/May 1990, I think he took the brunt of their frustration with far wider challenges on that tour. Chad’s support actually led to a very different engagement; does anyone recall what Chad’s next band after Nirvana was? I was put in touch with Ed Dekema who ran Dekema Records who is preparing a reissue of the Fire Ants’ 1992 EP “Stripped.” The band featured Chad on drums, Kevin Wood of Malfunkshun, his brother Brian Wood on vocals and Dan McDonald of Native Messiah on bass. Their one and only release at the time was recorded by Jack Endino at Word of Mouth Productions (AKA Reciprocal Recording) and the intention is for a substantial reissue of unreleased studio material and the remastered and repolished EP to be out this spring. Ed invited me to help by writing the proper history of the band which, of course, I’ve been very happy to do. Ed is now working on preparation of the release and I’m looking forward to seeing it myself.

Finally…A deeply decent soul and a guy its been an absolute pleasure to speak to this past year and a half – always something good to say. Genuinely, sounds gawky to say but when you do a day job and have to get home each night and gee yourself up to spend hours writing it makes an unbelievable difference when the people with whom one is in touch are enjoyable to hear from and fun to speak to. Kurt Danielson, now of Vaporland, formerly of Tad and Bundle of Hiss had been so cooperative and I’d readily gone back to him numerous times with smaller questions, other points (and then, of course, the “No Seattle” project too.) He took his time – he’s a good writer – and sent the following:

“It seems that journalists and writers are always emerging from the woodwork, eager to appropriate memories for yet another book about the Seattle music scene or about Nirvana or both. Often I get the impression that many of them see Seattle as just another opportunity to exploit in order to get a publishing deal and to shift units, having no real passion or understanding of the people who made the music or why, being driven by the mentality of a termite that simply wants to consume memories and excrete words for profit. This is not true in the case of Nick Soulsby, who demonstrates true passion for the music and a deep understanding of the musicians who create it, and his words mean something more than just ciphers to exchange for dollars, just as the music he’s writing about does.”—Kurt Danielson, bassist for Tad and Vaporland

Amen to that. Is it ok if I just kinda sit here and glow with pride for a bit? Come March 31 when the book comes out I hope it meets these expectations and you feel it was worth their words.

Felt it was time to share the information about the individuals telling the tale in “I Found My Friends.” Basically with 210 people, with some 170 bands, it’s a long list but I hope an intriguing one. I’ve arranged it as a chronology so you can see who was playing with Nirvana when and so forth… When I first started all this there was that curiosity about who these bands were, I want to write pieces about them on the blog as soon as possible, but I also felt that here were were at 25 years distance at least and that as the limits of memory are reached maybe it was a good moment to begin recording those memories. Turning them into a book, into this bigger compilation of stories and experiences, meant a fleshed out picture told by people who were actually there at the time – not just observers but guys and gals who were up on the same stages, sharing gear with Nirvana, hanging out with the band or just breezing past a band who – in 1987-1988 – were just another band…

1987
I confess the early days truly intrigued me…The start or end of something always has a certain emphatic edge that invites curiosity. Of the ten bands Nirvana played with in 1987 I was blessed and managed to speak to members of eight of them; Nisqually Delta Podunk Nightmare, Yellow Snow, Danger Mouse, Soylent Green, Lansdat Blister, Hell’s Kitchen, Inspector Luv and the Ride Me Babies and the Sons of Ishmael. I was informed via a contact that no one in Silent Treatment recalls much about the show with a young Nirvana – meanwhile, unfortunately, I only spoke to members of the Magnet Men after the deadline for the book had passed so that was that. As a wonderful addition – in my eyes – I received true help and support from Ryan Aigner, Nirvana’s first manager, and the guys from the band Black Ice who lived at the house where Nirvana played their first house party – the Raymond show. On the “With the Lights Out” box set, on the Led Zeppelin cover, it’s actually Tony Poukkula who can be heard yelping how he doesn’t know the solo to “Heartbreaker” before cracking out a brief rip.

1988
Nirvana had a busier year but still, twenty-three gigs is hardly awe-inspiring. They supported twenty nine bands in 1988 of whom I was able to speak to members of Attica, Blood Circus, the Butthole Surfers, Chemistry Set, Coffin Break, DOA, Herd of Turtles, King Krab, Lansdat Blister, Leaving Trains, Lush, Moral Crux, My Name, Psychlodds, Sister Skelter, Skin Yard, Swallow, Tad, the Fluid, the Thrown-ups, Treacherous Jaywalkers and Vampire Lezbos. Alas, Happy Dead Juans, we were too late…Too late…Likewise, though locating a former member of Millions of Dead Leninz (definitely one of the bands I obsessed over the longest) we didn’t get to discuss anything. That’s twenty two of twenty nine…Not bad…Not bad…

Anyways…There we go…Let’s see where next shall we? Incidentally, if you prefer to buy from a non-Amazon source then the book is up for pre-order at IndieBound and B&N:

B&N: http://hyperurl.co/nirvBN
Indiebound: http://hyperurl.co/nirvIND

The list below is intended to show a complete record of Nirvana’s shows (with date/location from the Nirvana Live Guide) then which shows feature a band from whom a member or various members took part in “I Found My Friends.” There are six shows in 1987-1988 that were not played by a musician featured in the book.

1987
March, Raymond — Black Ice
Skid Row plays one undated house party in Aberdeen March/April
April 18, Tacoma — Nisqually Delta Podunk Nightmare, Soylent Green, Yellow Snow
May 1, Olympia — Dangermouse, Lansdat Blister, Nisqually Delta Podunk Nightmare
May 27, Tacoma — Hell’s Kitchen, Soylent Green
August 9, Tacoma — Inspector Luv and the Ride Me Babies, Sons of Ishmael

1988
January 23, Tacoma — Moral Crux
March — Dave Foster plays the Caddy Shack house in Olympia as the band’s drummer
March 19, Tacoma — 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 — Lansdat Blister, Sister Skelter
May 21, Olympia — Herd of Turtles, Lansdat Blister
May 28, Olympia— 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 — Lansdat Blister, 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

Throughout the book I do deviate from chronology – sometimes there were topics I wanted to tackle in more detail, or people said things that were so interesting to me I wanted to delve in and reinforce them with the views and opinions of others. I hope it makes sense to you as a reader and that the slalom ride between following the live dates and making sense of the journey works for you. Often it was a simple question of memory – this is a LONNNNnnnnng time ago now, where were you twenty-five years ago? I was seven/eight years old – I remember nothing. Plus, shocking statement, the truth is that Nirvana – for quite a long time in fact – were just ‘another band’. That’s what really engrossed me was this sense of Nirvana as being a fairly indistinguishable part of the overall scene, surrounded by friends and comrades doing exactly the same thing with deviations in sound, style, energy…Before Nirvana gradually become something else all their own… It felt good to restore a sense of normalness…That this was people doing something they loved not rock-demi-gods momentarily visiting Earth…

An immediate thank you to my friend James who collated the Montage of Heck reviews thus saving me a ton of time and energy! Kudos and thanks.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/kurt-cobain-montage-heck-sundance-766524

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/features/sundance-2015-kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck-20150125?page=2

http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/25/7888931/kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck-sundance-film-festival-2015

http://collider.com/kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck-review/

http://www.hitfix.com/the-fien-print/review-kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck-definitively-doesnt-define-the-nirvana-icon

I’ve nothing to add really – I would hate to comment too deeply on something I haven’t seen or where I only have a certain quantity of information. Basically it looks/sounds like there’s been some deep love gone into the visual realisation of the project, that the selection of footage and material has been pretty unflinching, its been reviewed by film critics not music critics so I can understand why there’s no mention of unheard Kurt Cobain music in the early reviews (picking out what is previously released versus unreleased would take quite a deep knowledge and awareness), sounds like the focus is precisely what Brett Morgen promised – far more interest in Cobain as a personality and as an emotional being and far less in recounting the well-known narrative of Nirvana’s career…Cool, all good. I await with pleasure.