In the early 1990s Nirvana, an unglamorous band out of Aberdeen, Washington, near Seattle, comprising singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain, Bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl, changed rock ‘n roll more profoundly than any other group since the Beatles. They’d been on the Northwest scene for a few years, releasing a largely unnoticed record on a local label, Sub Pop, and were bubbling up as the Next Big Thing, until the release of a single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from their second record in 1991, made them very much the Next Big Thing.
Until 1994 when Kurt Cobain died by suicide, they were not only the most popular band on the planet, they were the most dynamic musical force. They were original and glorious. After the band dissolved in ‘94, Grohl started the Foo Fighters and Krist Novoselic mostly retreated to the farm (literally, he has a farm in Washington), doing a few musical projects here and there, and getting involved in political activism, starting JAMPAC (Joint Artists and Musicians Political Action Committee) and joining (and now chairing) FairVote. He now has two groups he performs with, a brilliant new band Giants in the Trees and a more experimental group (I think it’s fair to say, which is usually prelude to being completely wrong) called Butterfly Launches from Spar Pole.
He also learned to fly a plane!
We’ve known each other since the early 90s and in 1992 I assigned him to cover the war in Croatia, where his family is from, for SPIN. We both thought this was a great idea and on the morning after Nirvana’s last show of a world tour, Krist flew from Rio De Janeiro to Zagreb to be a war reporter. But this idea wasn’t, shall we say, universally welcomed. Nirvana’s management blew a gasket, and Kurt Cobain called me from Brazil and screamed: “What have you done! You sent my fucccckkkkkinng bass player to a war zone!”