Nirvana's "classic" lineup: Kurt Cobain (vocals/guitar), Krist Novoselic (bass), Dave Grohl (drums)
|Years active||1987 - 1994|
|Label(s)||Sub Pop (1989-1990)
Nirvana was an American rock band that was an active recording outfit from 1987 through 1994.
Nirvana was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. The band went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting (and final) being Dave Grohl, who joined the band in 1990. Nirvana was tremendously influential and helped pave the way for the alternative rock movement of the 1990s.
Connection with Weezer
Nirvana were an influence on Rivers Cuomo's songwriting, with Cuomo commenting, "They’re one of my favorite bands of all time, combining anger, intensity, distorted guitars and screaming vocals with beautiful melodies, chord progressions and pop song structures." Cuomo further noted that Nirvana's music, influence, and popularity "was very fateful for Weezer" in terms of their success.
Cuomo's first experience with the band, specifically the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the band's 1991 album Nevermind, is documented in the bridge section of "Heart Songs" from 2008's Red Album, with Nevermind's cover art depicting a naked baby swimming toward a US dollar bill on a fishhook also referenced.
Back in 1991, I wasn't having any fun
'Til my roommate said "come on", and put a brand new record on
Had a baby on it; he was naked on it
Then I heard the chords that broke the chains I had up on me
Nirvana and Weezer would later became labelmates at DGC in 1993, although Cobain's suicide pre-dated the May 1994 release of The Blue Album by a month. Both bands appeared on the 1994 compilation DGC Rarities, Vol. 1.
Cobain was mentioned by name in the original draft for the lyrics to "Susanne" ("Even Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose/When I call, you put them all on hold."), but upon Cobain's April 1994 death, the line was altered. This can be heard on Rivers' original demo of the song, recorded in January 1994, and later released on Alone III in 2011. When the song was brought back into the band's setlists in 2010, the original lyric mentioning Cobain was restored.
Cuomo also noted Nirvana's influence on Weezer's 1996 album Pinkerton in a 1997 Guitar World interview, stating, "I don't know that we were modeling Pinkerton on anything in particular, but we really like some of the stuff Steve Albini has done, like the Pixies' Surfer Rosa [Elektra, 1988] or Nirvana's In Utero [DGC, 1993]."
Under the pseudonym Goat Punishment, Weezer performed a six-song set of Nirvana covers in 1999 ("Mr. Moustache", "Aneurysm", "Breed", "Dive", "Swap Meet", and "Blew"). Cuomo was known to have been studying Cobain's compositions (as well as those by Green Day and Oasis) during Weezer's hiatus from 1997 to 2000.
In 2005, Weezer toured with the Foo Fighters (the Foozer tour), Dave Grohl of Nirvana's current band.
Weezer performed the Nirvana song "Sliver" during the second half of the Troublemaker Tour in 2008.
In 2014, Cuomo reviewed Nirvana's song "Aneurysm" in an issue of Rolling Stone, commenting,
“Weezer played this song as part of our all-Nirvana set in 1998 under the name Goat Punishment. It’s my very favorite Nirvana song to play as a performer – to me it has the best balance of the Bleach-era guitar riffage and the melodic catchiness and chord simplicity of Nevermind. You get the best of both worlds. All the parts are super-catchy and grinding, and it has that trademark soft-loud-soft-loud Nirvana dynamic.
Then there’s bonus hook at the end of the song, where he starts singing, ‘She came to pump it straight to my heart.’ When it gets to that point and he gives you this bonus hook that presses any emotional buttons in you that haven’t been pressed yet – I mean, that completely wipes out the possibility of anyone else being able to have written this song. It just takes it over the top. I do need to point out that I think the live version is the definitive version. The version on Incesticide with the “beat it! beat it!” background vocal in the chorus is a tad cheesy, even for me. I think they wisely revised it out by the time they did the live version.”
- Bleach (1989)
- Nevermind (1991)
- In Utero (1993)