Nirvana’s Nevermind continues to endure nearly 30 years, but would its legend be what it is if it was released today? Butch Vig isn’t so sure.
The album’s producer observed that if Nirvana’s culture-shifting album was released now, “despite being a great record, it would not have the same cultural impact” today.
In an interview with NME, Vig, who is also the longtime drummer for Garbage (and has a new side project 5 Billion in Diamonds as well), said that the iconic Nirvana record, if released today, would have a different trajectory.
“I think it would be tough to repeat that zeitgeist moment. It was perfect timing coming out when there was a shift in music and it felt like a revolution. I can see that happening again, but not in the same way.”
The producer/musician continued: “I saw something similar with Billie Eilish. I’m friends with her and [brother, producer] Finneas and their mom was my daughter’s music teacher. They live down the street from us. Billie speaks for a whole generation of youth, much like Nirvana did with their zeitgeist moment.”
In the early days of grunge, pre-internet, bands and records grew organically, and often over years, but as Vig points out: “Everything is so instant that it’s hard to build up some mystique. When you really want something but can’t quite get your hands on it, that makes it all the more powerful.”
“Maybe someone will come along with a band who sounds like Nirvana but a lyricist who writes like Bob Dylan and is into hip-hop and doesn’t have Instagram or Facebook,” he continued. “Maybe they’ll do a couple of shows and disappear. If they did, people would go mental because they’d want them all the more. If you know who that is, please call them because I want to produce them!”
Last month, Garbage singer Shirley Manson spoke about finishing the seventh album and Vig also discussed what to expect from the forthcoming LP.
“There are a couple of songs that have Roxy Music references, definitely. A couple that have Talking Heads references,” he said. “I feel like the music is a schizophrenic cousin to our third record, Beautiful Garbage. Every song is a standalone piece. It’s quite eclectic.”
Vig added that Manson’s lyrics “seem very prescient, apropos of the world we’re in right now. She could see this crazy lockdown and all the racial busy and the craziness of the election.”‘
Divine Accidents is out on Nov. 20 via MAKE records.