Krist Novoselic on recording In Utero and what Nirvana’s future would have been if Kurt Cobain had lived: “After that, we could have done whatever we wanted”
The bassist says fans can hear what the next Nirvana album might have sounded like with You Know You’re Right.
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Krist Novoselic has spoken about the recording of In Utero and what the album’s completion would’ve meant for Nirvana if Kurt Cobain were alive.
“There was so much going on from Nevermind to April of 1994. But somehow, for In Utero, amidst all that, the band came together,” Novoselic says of the band’s final album in a new issue of Uncut.
Describing the record as ‘musically diverse’, the bassist says In Utero “goes from haunting to menacing to poppy. All Apologies is a really good melody. Milk It is terrifying, that’s full-on Kurt Cobain intensity right there. Tourette’s is a screaming punk rock song that we did in one take.”
“I thought, ‘Wow, this is not mainstream.’ But we also delivered. There was the Nirvana that you’d expect: the quiet part, the drum roll and boom, the big chorus! But we didn’t beat an idea into the ground, it’s not just a formula over and over again.”
Novoselic adds that the band “could have done whatever we wanted” after the record – if Cobain were alive, noting that fans can “hear [what the next Nirvana album might have sounded like] with You Know You’re Right.”
“I guess we would’ve just needed nine more songs and we could’ve had another record,” he says.
And while In Utero has certainly found its place among the most influential of ’90s rock albums, Nirvana’s record label did not think the same when they first heard of it.
Recalling the label’s dissatisfaction with In Utero, producer Steve Albini says: “I got a call from Dave Grohl. He said he’d been playing the record in his car and he fucking loved it. Then I got a call from Kurt. He said they played the record for everybody, everybody hates it, they want them to redo it. And he said that kind of resigned, like, ‘Yeah, we knew this was gonna happen to an extent.’”
“It’s weird: there were two songs that were remixed, top to bottom,” he recalls. “But if you played me the original one and the remixed one side by side, I genuinely don’t know if I would be able to tell the difference at this point. Especially given the changes in aesthetic that have come down the pipe in the years since, it’s hard to fathom what the problem was.”
“All I know is that my experiences with other record label people in that position was that they were always full of shit, and they always wanted to remix everything because they wanted to be able to claim some kind of authorship of it.”
Nevertheless, Albini says that at the end of the way, he “worked for [the band members]” and that their opinion is what matters: “They were satisfied and they are the only audience I care about. I thought it was a good record at the time and still do.”