Let me start out and state, in my opinion, there would be no Nirvana without the Melvins. Would Kurt have started a band? Probably. However, the chances of that band being with Krist Novosellic, and Kurt getting to record a demo would be extremely low had it not been for the Melvins. Now then, let’s dice right in.
The year was 1985. Kurt Cobain was in high school without hardly any friends and was being shuffled around relatives for a place to stay. He had heard of the band called the Melvins and went to a practice of theirs (a common hangout place for music people). He saw a really tall guy (6’7″) that he recognized from school. This guy was Krist and he listened to punk rock and could play bass guitar.
Kurt really wanted to start a band with Krist, but Krist showed little interest. He went down to Reciprocal Recordings with Dale Crover (100% of the reason Endido gave this Kurt guy the time of day) and they recorded a demo called “Fecal Matter”. Kurt gave this tape to Krist and he was finally convinced. All they needed now was a drummer.
They had simple requirements – someone who was willing to practice 5 days a week. They found a Chad Channing. He had a goofy drum set, and he didn’t do everything exactly the way Kurt would’ve liked him to, but he was there 5 days a week. Now that they had all the pieces in place, they were ready to rock.
They performed at a few clubs under numerous names (Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew…etc) until they finally settled on a name – Nirvana. They felt pretty confident about their songs and started shopping themselves around to labels. They sent tapes to Touch & Go, K Records, and Sub Pop. Sub Pop was the only label to bite and signed Kurt. They went into the recording studio with Jack Endido.
They recorded their first single, “Love Buzz” and wanted the song “Blandest” to be the B-Side. However, Endido thought the title resembled the song and balked. Nirvana decided to go with “Big Cheese” instead. So the first installment of the Sub Pop Singles Club was Nirvana’s Love Buzz b/w Big Cheese. the 7 inch vinyl’s were hand numbered to 1000 and were quickly snatched up. Nirvana was pissed because they were at shows and people wanted their stuff, but they had nothing to give them. the ploy worked though because there was so much demand that when Bleachwas finally released, there was a lot of underground hype for it.
When Nirvana was recording Bleach, they had to come up with $606 dollars to pay Endido for the studio time. Well, being completely broke, Nirvana did not have that kind of money. Enter Jason Everman. They struck a deal with Everman. If he paid the money, he could join their band. They even gave him a guitar credit on Bleach despite not playing on it. After Bleach came out, they went on tour to promote it. They were living their dream. Kurt noted that the tour was great, but wouldhave been better if “Jason wasn’t such a prick”. Everman was kicked out of the band shortly after the Bleach tour.
After the Bleach tour, they had another problem. They grew increasingly frustrated with Chad Channing, so they wrote him a letter effectively kicking him out of the band. So now they had no drummer again. They played shows with Dan Peters, but h had to go back to Mudhoney. They played some shows with Dale Crover, but he had to go back to the Melvins. They let Aaron Bruckhard play with them, but he still wasn’t what they were looking for. Buzz, from the Melvins knew a guy.
DC Punk band, Scream, was touring LA and their band literally fell apart, and they broke up in Los Angeles. Kurt called their drummer, Dave Grohl, and told him to come to Seattle to be in their band. Grohl had nothing to lose so he went up to Seattle. He was everything Nirvana was looking for in a drummer, and now in 1990, 5 years after “Fecal Matter”, they were complete.
To be continued…