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Nirvana / Photo by Kirk Weddle It begs repeating that the Seattle-via-Aberdeen trio’s indelible pop melodies were tangled up in paradox: This was experimental music — seven-minute feedback jams, Flipper-fucked bassline monotony, vein-popping screams — born against the grain, far more stark, unsettling and terrifying than subsequent sing-alongs would suggest. While their music has influenced countless bands before and after Cobain’s suicide in 1994, its their legacy as the world’s first Billboard-dominating rock band with punk rock beginnings, as eternal outsiders, that has forever linked them to fellow freaks and weirdos to come.

Geologist: It was probably the same experience as a lot of kids. I remember hearing it on the Top 40 radio station, but in a joking way. The DJ was talking about having to buy a birthday present for his nephew or something. And he was like, “He asked for this new group. I can’t buy it, there’s a penis on the cover.” And he was talking about how this baby was gonna have to grow up and face the embarrassment of having his penis on this record cover. They kept talking about the band so the name was in my head. I turned on MTV in the morning and I saw the video, and I said, “This is the penis band!”

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