Krist Novoselic on the time Paul McCartney recorded with Nirvana: “I kept thinking, please don’t make me play bass guitar”

“So of course he asked me to play bass.”

Paul McCarntey and Nirvana's Krist Novoselic

Image: Suzi Pratt / Getty Images

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Krist Novoselic has reflected on the time Paul McCartney joined Nirvana in the recording studio, saying the experience was akin to ‘going boxing with Muhammad Ali’.

The legendary Beatle famously worked with the band on the song Cut Me Some Slack, which appeared on the soundtrack to Dave Grohl’s 2013 documentary film Sound City.

Asked how the collaboration went, Novoselic told Guitar World that the experience was nothing short of “incredible”.

“Dave had sent me an email asking if I wanted to record with Paul McCartney in L.A.,” the bassist recounted. “And I said, ‘Dude, I’ll walk there from Washington if I have to.’ So I flew down and we were standing around figuring out what to do, and I kept thinking, please don’t make me play bass guitar, please don’t make me play bass.”

“That’s like being asked to do karate with Bruce Lee – you’re going to get your ass kicked. ‘Yep, I’m going boxing. Who’s your sparring partner? Muhammad Ali. Good luck with that!’”

“So of course he asked me to play bass,” Novoselic continued. “Paul had this slide guitar that he was playing, and Dave was playing drums, but it wasn’t working for us. Then I realised we were playing in D, so I did the old grunge trick and I drop-tuned my bass to D.”

“I played some riffs, and boom! Paul got into it, Pat Smear was feeling it, and Dave laid down some serious grooves. Then Paul shot me a riff and I shot him a riff and everything started clicking perfectly. We had the old band back together, and we had this cool left-handed guitarist, who was actually Paul McCartney, and he was doing vocals. I had to pinch myself. We ended up winning a Grammy for that song, too.”

Novoselic added, “There was speculation that Nirvana was reuniting, with Paul taking over for Kurt, but it was just fun. He said he liked my basslines. Paul McCartney said that! You can put that in a pull quote.”

Released in 2012, Cut Me Some Slack was an immediate hit with critics and won the Grammy award for Best Rock Song in 2014.


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