Archive for the ‘Dark Slivers: Seeing Nirvana in the Shards of Incesticide’ Category


A thrilling photo I’m sure you’ll agree, well, it is for me anyways. It’s the next delivery of Dark Slivers: Seeing Nirvana in the Shards of Incesticide. How has it been going? Well this is the answer. I have two copies of the first edition left under my desk one of which I owe to my friend and comrade Lisa, the other could go to one of ten people who have expressed interest yet are unresolved or to two friends I haven’t seen these past months. That’s the first 100 gone since December, 14 2013 when I started sending out.

In amidst that 100 there were twenty given away; I owed five to my designer, Maureen Johnson, for her and her sons; I owed to my publisher, Ben Sumner, for his records and enjoyment; I owed a copy to Bruce Pavitt and one to Jack Endino; I had promised copies to the guys at LiveNirvana, the Internet Nirvana Fan Club, Nirvana Italia and the Nirvana Live Guide because of the vast use I’d made of their material during my work (it seemed respectful and I wanted to acknowledge them)…Oh, plus my parents, grandfather and siblings of course.

I was gratified that, when the announcement went out at work in December, so many people with whom I’d cooperated at some point or another agreed they wanted a copy. It did mean something to me that people trusted that they knew me well enough that if I’d done something they would want to support it. The Russian lady who runs the coffee shop area, Tatyana, a truly top-notch and top-quality individual for whom I have massive respect and affection, even insisted which was sweet of her. When I handed over her copy and she read the inscription she replied (in front of a queue of a dozen people) “oh Nick, you are so nice…But your handwriting, it is SO terrible.” I think others who have received an inscribed copy from me can confirm that.

With the second edition ready I have already despatched a copy to Gillian G. Gaar, plus my publisher informed me that we’re required to send copies to the various U.K. copyright libraries which was something I was delighted to do. That means copies will live in Cambridge University Library, the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. We’re checking on the British Library too. In the case of those five editions I took the time, call me a sentimentalist (it’s true, I am, there are some very hippy-parts of my personality), to spell out the full surnames of each individual I had included in the Acknowledgements, I like the idea that so long as a physical copy of my book lives in those locations that their names will be bound to mine.



NFC Mention_Feb 2013

I admit it, I was pretty darn pleased the other day when Rasmus Holmen, who runs the Internet Nirvana Fan Club (, wrote saying he’d enjoyed the book and had loaded a review up onto the website — a very kind gentleman.

A further confession; I’m sure that it might be obvious that the work done for takes quite a bit of time and presently there’s some quite substantial data work being done so, alas, I admit I fell behind and the main two pieces I want to share this week, I’ll need to polish tonight… I’m basically trying to ensure that I don’t fire too much material out that isn’t well-baked, of a quality I’m happy to put my name to and that I hope says something worth reading. Heck, I’m quite surprised I’m up to 127 pieces on here and not embarrassed or ashamed of too many of them (OK, egregious spelling and grammar errors on one post last week were a bit of a slip, thanks Marcus for pointing them out so I had a chance to cut and a chance to cure.)

Your patience is welcomed and appreciated, thank you!


Greetings from the Isle of Sheppey. I’ve very much enjoyed chatting away with people who have purchased the book and have no problem stating openly that I’ve actively encouraged people and requested people to leave Amazon reviews. The reasons are very obvious; firstly, it’s a wonderful feeling when someone tells me they feel that Dark Slivers: Seeing Nirvana in the Shards of Incesticide has been a worthy read, one they’ve enjoyed — but given I have an ego, same as anyone, I genuinely want other people to hear that I didn’t waste a year’s work and many, many nights.

Secondly, you dear reader have no reason to trust that ten British pounds would be a investment well-rewarded. In my opinion Nirvana fans have been very poorly served and there have been far too many half-assed and repetitive efforts for which people have parted with cash — if that’s how I feel then I can’t imagine I’m the only Nirvana fan to feel that way. In October I joined the LiveNirvana forum having had it suggested by Adam Andrews who runs the site that I should get involved — I chuckled heartily when I saw one of the first comments, reacting to the fact that first mentions of the book were floating around read:

Bogus_Nov 5 2012_LN Comment

Hope you can read it clearly, that’s a totally legitimate and fair reaction! It’s how despondent I’ve felt most of the time when my latest bit of eBay hunting produced another rehash of readily available information or a rip-off of LiveNirvana’s efforts or the Nirvana Live Guide. Well, all I could do to convince anyone otherwise is what I’ve done so far — show an indication of the way my mind works here at the blog so you can decide if you like my way of doing things, and then get those who have something to say about the book to say it openly and in public so you can take a good look and see what you think.

Third and finally, a colder reality is that, I’m wholly dependent on people who like the book saying so to other people. What the information age does offer (let’s not get into how fake I feel the hype around ebooks is, or how useless social media is as a sales channel) is a chance to make those opinions public and available to all. If you like the kinds of things other people are mentioning then maybe you’ll like the book itself. I was very gratified that Rasmus Holmen, the gentleman who runs the Internet Nirvana Fan Club was willing to give his statement so openly — I had asked him to, I’m delighted he felt I was worth doing it for. Similarly, to those others who took the time, I think I’ve said thank you personally, if not then let me say it here “thank you.” And to those of you who haven’t read the book…Well…Why not? I think it’s worth it. But don’t take my word on it. Take a look.

In German! I’ve no idea what it says but still…I was chuffed to see it. Big smiley face here.

A comrade, Mr. Darius Wojewodka, did me the honour of reviewing a chapter of Dark Slivers back in October as I prepared to get everything printed and ready to go. One of the comments he came back with I enjoyed very much, he mentioned the title of the book and mused:

“That’s how the chapter I read felt like, the fans had a beautiful glass object that has been smashed. They are now searching through the shards for the beauty again but are just getting bloodied hands. Bloodied hands not being most people’s definition of nirvana with a small ‘n’.”

It’s a delicious notion on multiple levels. Though increasingly a relic of the past, there’s something about the idea of an album; a complete statement, an artist’s chosen unity placed in the bands. Incesticide was Nirvana’s own self-reporting of their history and its remains; but since that time fans have seen how much was left-over, discarded or stayed unknown. The perfection was ruined. And, of course, Kurt Cobain was happily engaged in kicking the hell out of the pop-punk mainstream image of Nevermind; Incesticide was deliberate vandalism. Darius’ explanation had such beauty in itself; nirvana versus Nirvana, fans parsing the music, the story, the facts down so far they could only end up wounded — do we know too much these days? Plus, the purpose of the book was to pull apart, break, show the innards…It’s a shrewd thought.

The title, I’ll freely admit, is a bit of a mouthful. If I can explain why, well, in the early stages of writing I simply had a single document called Nirvana_Incesticide, plus two spreadsheets going; one called Nirvana_Live where I was compiling data and analysing it (I still use it), the other Nirvana_Lyrics (pretty self explanatory so no need for me to put anything in brackets.) This sufficed in the early months when I was still terrified my enthusiasm would die and I’d never finish. Why was that fear so strong? Simply because trying to cram writing in around a normal day job, eking out the hours each side of midnight, creeping forward by a few hundred words a night — I’ve been through this so many times before. Eventually it’s always ended the same way, I’ve ended up tangled up, fed up, out of images and ideas that fire my desire to finish. I didn’t know I was going to finish a book; I’m not a professional writer, I do it when I want to.

Instead, come summer, I knew I had most of a full book finished or at least plotted out to the point I could see what a conclusion would look like. I’d also seen that my thinking had stretched far beyond just a book about the Incesticide album — a desultory title that simply read like the album title was already boring to me and, now, inaccurate and misleading too. The difficulty was that the core of the book was still about the Incesticide album, even if the edges had spread out from that centre. It was only reasonable that the title remained focused on Incesticide. I wanted to find a title that reflected the fragmentary nature of Incesticide as a compilation, as well as the fragmentary nature of my work in which I wrote in single essays, or groups of essays.

Sat in a pub garden, my friend Emily Jones instigated a brainstorming session, a rip through words and verbs that maybe worked. She had a scrap of paper, back of a map, directions to the pub, words listed out, scribbled out whatever I refused and placed four fresh alternatives in place, words, just words. I was awkward, I refused many, there was never a perfection but there were options strained out from all this detritus — and this one stuck.

No deep reasons, I felt the ‘seeing’ image was right because I wanted Incesticide to act as a prism, a way of seeing wider points about the band and its works, that Incesticide wasn’t divorced from Nirvana’s other works, it was integral and, within it, other inherent truths were visible. And Dark Slivers? Over-elaborate perhaps but, by summer I could tell that quite few elements I was most enthused by within the work, were also those that cast the harshest light on Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. That isn’t a twisted ‘kill yr idols’ urge — they were simply the pieces I felt most keenly with whatever sorrow of realisation, joy of intellectual discovery that would arise thereof. The idea of a sliver, beyond the obvious nod to the Nirvana song title, touched on something being stuck inside, something sharp, painful, hard or even impossible to dig out from under the skin. It made sense for the psychological motivations I was seeing.

This should be known as the “somebody helped” speech – I agree with it entirely though its phrasing is weak at times. Tomorrow I’ll get on with the set-list analysis (boy, it is time-consuming stuff!) but its a Friday and I wanted to pause…Especially as I gave permission yesterday for the second edition of Dark Slivers to go to print and the application to sell the paperback via Amazon and Waterstones went in.

Ordered 2nd Edition_7 Feb 2013

Yep, I’m very proud of Dark Slivers – if you’re asking, I, Nick Soulsby, genuinely believe that I have created a book that doesn’t duplicate or simply repeat the same old stories about Nirvana; I think I’ve come to some unique and never considered conclusions and have reinforced and argued them with a strength not seen before…Yes, I’m proud of Dark Slivers: Seeing Nirvana in the Shards of Incesticide.

But does that mean I see myself as a genius? Heck no! I’m in contact now with people I think of as ‘uber-fans’ – guys who have dedicated their time and energies to Nirvana and who intimidate and impressive me constantly with their knowledge and command of detail. The fact they’ve enjoyed the book means a lot to me and they’ve contributed thoughts that I’ve built on and learnt from since.

Meanwhile, to get the book done in the first place – wow, the amount of work involved… My designer Maureen Johnson worked like a demon under tight pressures to make it look right, that’s around a demanding day job, she and I sharing screens between U.S. and U.K. at horrendous times of night to check changes. She had to do it all over again recently for the next version of the book. And of course it was Maureen who came up with the style for the front cover – she made that image. I couldn’t have done this without her. My publisher Ben Sumner runs Running Water Press, again, I needed someone who could advise on the process, who could buy ISBN numbers, understood how to register the book as my property, has the know-how to have the conversations with the big retailers – I can’t do this without him. Many’s the day I’ve called him out for coffee just so I could rant in frustration, even that gave the energy to continue. A friend called Keith Wotherspoon appeared fortuitously, the man is an expert Intellectual Property lawyer and I was understandably terrified that if I quoted lyrics could I be sued? He checked the law for me, gave me the information – again, that’s not something I could have done alone.

Similarly, in the background, various friends contributed thoughts, reviews, opinions, simple encouragement every step of the way – I list about a dozen people in the acknowledgements at the back of the book and each one did me the honour of taking time to read for me at a time when I could barely see the pages anymore I’d lived with the words for so long. I needed them utterly. My dear colleague Shrikant working on the data material – that’s phenomenal, someone taking the time to do that for me – he’s created a spreadsheet showing every single month in which Nirvana performed, what songs they performed and how many times that month…Incredible.

And now, today, what’s made the difference is having people who have read the book take the time to drop me a line and say what was good, what I should think about, what they think about it overall. I’m fascinated hearing about their lives, their achievements (so many talented people! Artists, mothers, musicians, writers…) and it makes this SO enjoyable for me. I truly love hearing from everyone – it makes this a pleasure and encourages me to keep going. I work maybe 20-30 hours a week on top of my full time day job to do the blog and to keep trying to encourage others to try the book…Without this encouragement I’d have given up back in January. Each person who has written to me, thank you, you have made a difference and no, I didn’t build Dark Slivers, or alone. Thanks to you.

I’m proud of me…But I needed several dozen people to make it come true. I didn’t build that.

Well, perhaps go to the ‘About’ section first and check out the sample chapter. I moved it to there so those who weren’t sure whether my writing was worth taking a £10 chance on had a chance to see my way of thinking and exploring things…If you find it an entertaining read, maybe check more of the short pieces on the blog (there are over 100 articles now so plenty to choose from) and think “would a NEW BOOK ABOUT NIRVANA amuse and interest me…?”

There are two ways to get the book – first, go to Amazon, buy the ebook if you’re a Kindle fan.
If you like your reading experience ‘old school’ then simply email me at or I’ve sold almost all of the first edition of 100 now and, so far (touch wood!), every copy has arrived safely with its new owner (phew!)

I’m going to use these anonymously (there’s a review on Amazon from one guy too – which was nice of him) but here are some of the other comments received so far – thank you to the individuals who took the time to write me their thoughts, I hope they’re not offended I used these – and YES, you all made me blush:

“I love the insightful approach and I definitely feel as though I am learning new content regarding my favorite band. The charts and such add to overall experience. I am very pleased and am absolutely blown away that you have tackled this often forgotten album. I have found myself listening to Incesticide quite frequently lately.”

“The book is a real gem, no doubt about it; I thoroughly enjoied it and managed to read it in week despite doing PhD work at the same time.
1. You’ve got this really interesting, almost statistical, approach when analysing the genesis of each song. This allows you to trace the ‘ontogenetic development’ of individual songs, compare them with each other and derive all sorts of interesting information on that basis (manner of song writing, etc.).
2. Portraying Kurt Cobain as more of an all-round artist, instead of purely as a musician.
3. Your take on what music meant for Kurt — being a person who’s compelled to create and at the same time someone who’s using music as a way to escape from…personal problems…probably reality in general.”

“i don’t really want to waste time talking about that cynical piece of crap internal memo for the in utero anniversary reissue, but i have to admit i thought of you when i read the line “If you must mention
Incesticide, be sure to call it a “stopgap” release”. it’s such a shame that this really is how incesticide is viewed but i guess that’s the whole point of why you decided to write your book. which i have almost finished by the way and enjoying very much!”

“Nirvana is verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry important to me. So whenever i have the opportunity to engage with like-minded and knowledgeable individuals, i try to do so. it’s a topic very personal and dear to my heart. So, i am just as grateful that someone such as yourself literally appeared out of the woodwork and had the motivation/desire to write an original work and keep the spirit alive so to speak!”

On Friday (tomorrow) I’ll be instructing the printing firm to commence the second print run of Dark Slivers: Seeing Nirvana in the Shards of Incesticide. The first edition, being a first edition, naturally contains a proofing errors and typos that I’m pleased to have the chance to fix. You may ask why weren’t they all cleaned up prior to the first printing – simply because there was a tight deadline (and a long printing leadtime) that meant it had to go to the printers at a specific point in time. The ebook for Kindle received a range of corrections but will also be updated in the next fortnight.

There aren’t many new footnotes or pieces of information being added (three in total)but I would, of course, like to make sure everyone has the information that is entering the book:

“I’ve recently been informed that intriguingly the musician Foetus (JG Thirwell) had a song on a 1992 compilation, Mesomorph Enduros, also entitled Incesticide making it possible that the title of the compilation was borrowed late in 1992. Thank you to Brett Robinson for this. I’ve emailed JG Thirwell and hope he will be able to give some insight into the origins of that song title and the timing of that compilation release.”

Then the two points on Black & White Blues/All Apologies and on Kurdt/Kurt added thanks to the kind support of Jack Endino who took the opportunity to hit me up with some fresh thoughts – I’ve included his original emailed comments here including some I’m not using in the book but think are of definite interest:

“The acoustic instro demo you refer to as Black And White Blues, if it’s the one I am thinking of, I have reason to believe it’s a Krist song, because finger-style is how he plays guitar! It might be Krist on guitar or Krist and Kurt together. But I haven’t asked him. We almost never discuss Nirvana. However if you listen to the January 1, 1991 demo of All Apologies, I can confirm that Krist and Kurt are both playing guitar and there is no bass. If you want to hear Krist on guitar more recently, I recorded this for him a couple years ago (the voice is a naturalist friend of his):

“… explanation of ‘Kurdt’… Kurt used ‘Kurdt’ a few times as a subtle tip of the hat to the only other famous musician to ever emerge from Aberdeen WA prior to Nirvana: local legend, guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof, cofounder of the Northwest-based band Metal Church (with several major label records in the 80s), who was also known earlier by the alias “Blobbo” in the legendary punk band The Lewd! Everyone who writes about Nirvana misses this because 80s metal bands are not on their radar. But Metal Church was huge here, and if not for Nirvana, Vanderhoof would probably still be the ONLY successful musician to have ever emerged from Aberdeen. You can bet every kid who grew up in tiny Aberdeen in the 80s knew who he was.”

“Another thing… when we were recording Bleach they gave me the title ‘Swap Meat’ for the song that later appeared on the record as ‘Swap Meet.’ I was actually disappointed cuz I thought it was funnier the original way, but knowing Kurt he probably had second thoughts (I never asked him) and concluded the humor was a bit too crass!”

“Just between you and me… when I first heard Been A Son, what I thought of was the song ‘Chambermaid’ from Pink Fairies’ 1973 Kings Of Oblivion album which i bought in 1977:

But I’m about 99.9% certain that Kurt never heard the Pink Fairies. I appear to be the only Nirvana fan in the US who has. They were wildly obscure here.”

“Jam/Jam After Dinner… there is indeed a rather excrutiating ‘Jam After Dinner’ from the 1994 Lang Studio session. But one of the menus from the box set DVD has a section (looped) from a jam I recorded in late 1992 at Word Of Mouth. When I popped in the DVD, that was the first thing I heard… I’ve never actually watched it or went further but Gillian tells me the 1994 Jam After Dinner is used somewhere on that DVD too. I am hoping they use my 1992 jam in full, as a bonus track on the In Utero deluxe reissue, but… we’ll see.”