I Found My Friends: Those who Provided the Cover Quotations – a Thank You

Posted: February 5, 2015 in I Found My Friends: the Oral History of Nirvana

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.

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Comments
  1. jim says:

    march 31 it is

  2. nsoulsby says:

    Amen Jim, I can’t wait I admit. Itching…

  3. Fergus says:

    Can’t wait to read this.

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