Nirvana’s surviving members are starting to remember their old band’s “Forgotten Tune.” The recently unearthed instrumental has earned high billing in the rollout for the alternative-rock legends’ massive 20th anniversary reissue of landmark third album In Utero. In a new NPR All Songs Considered interview, bassist Krist Novoselic recalls the unfinished song coming out of an effort to revive an earlier riff, as the band had done with other songs.
That track is streaming after the 40-minute mark of the interview over on NPR’s site, though it appears to fade out before the end. As a rehearsal recording, it’s raw and scrappy, but it’s not impossible to imagine the slashing full-band interplay having become something else if Kurt Cobain had lived. Where did the title come from? Novoselic explains: “Well, ‘Forgotten Tune,’ we found it and were like, what is this song? And I don’t really remember. And [we were], like, what do you want to call it? And I’m like, I don’t want to give it a name, so let’s just call it ‘Forgotten Tune’ and let people make up their own minds what it is.”
Also over at NPR, you can stream other In Utero deluxe-edition tracks without having to skip ahead in the interview. There’s an “All Apologies” demo (“We found that on a cassette,” Novoselic says), Steve Albini’s original mix of “Heart-Shaped Box,” (drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl: “A lot of modern recordings just don’t hold that same sort of weight that Steve got then, and can still get now,”) and the “original version” of “Serve the Servants” (Novoselic: “And so we finish the song, and Kurt and Dave and I look at each other and we’re like, ‘Yeah, that felt pretty good. How was it, Steve?’ He’s like, ‘Sounds good.’ And we’re like, ‘All right! We’re going to do another song,’ like in one take. We won Steve over after that.”)
The interview is peppered with playful banter between Grohl and Novoselic, but in between they also offer a little more insight into what’s new about the remastered In Utero. Novoselic says the idea came from the Doors’ refurbished greatest hits collection The Future Starts Here. “I go, ‘Well, the Doors sound all nice and fresh for the 21st century, and it’s the 20-year anniversary [of In Utero], so it’d be a good time to try something similar.”
Another takeaway: Grohl and Novoselic haven’t heard of Baltimore electronic uplifter Dan Deacon. Aww. Sorry, Dan.
The In Utero reissue arrives September 24 via Universal Records, and you can revisit the full, sprawling track list here. Director Anton Corbijn’s alternate cut of the iconic “Heart-Shaped Box” video has already found its way online. Albini, meanwhile, who recorded the album, is still criticizing label executives about the album’s initial handling.