Nirvana producer reveals why Lithium from Nevermind was recorded on a click track

“I broke [Dave’s] heart… but only for one day.”


Image: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

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Nirvana producer Butch Vig has revealed that Lithium was the only track from Nevermind that was recorded on a click track.

In an interview with Rick Beato on his YouTube channel, the producer unveiled why he decided to use the click track:

“The day we tracked it, they started playing, [and] as soon as they kicked in, it sped up. Speeding up is okay in rock ‘n’ roll, but it was the only time I noticed [them] really kind of lurching, and Kurt noticed that too.”

“And he said, ‘What do we do? I just don’t like the way this is feeling.’ And we did three or four takes; we got to the end of one of the takes. [We] didn’t even finish, [and] Kurt said, ‘Stop, stop, stop. This doesn’t feel right to me.’”

“And then he launched into ‘Endless, Nameless.’ I’ve never seen so much rage on a person’s face — it was scary. In the end, Kurt completely smashed his guitar and blew his voice out.”

The producer then disclosed that it was this outburst from Cobain that led to the decision to use a click track.

“I pulled Dave aside before they went out the door and said, ‘Have you ever played to a click? And he said, ‘No. Why?’ ‘Because I think maybe we should try it. Might be worth it in the song, to keep a really steady groove.’ I always carried this tiny little Roland drum machine with me… And he said, ‘I’ll go try it tonight.’

“And he came in the next day. I asked how it went with the click, and he said, ‘I think it’s okay. I don’t like playing too much. But I think it’ll be okay. So we roll a click, Lithium, first take — boom, done. Perfect. I didn’t have to do any drum editing,” he continued.

“I was just like, ‘Oh my god, Dave Grohl is a machine.’ He told me years later doing [2011 Foo Fighters album] Wasting Light that when I asked him to play with a click track, I broke his heart… but only for one day [laughs].”

You can watch the full interview with Rick Beato below:

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