Nirvana’s “Nevermind” at 20: Bands remember the classic album

September 12, 2011 by D.X. Ferris

Nirvana’s “Nevermind” at 20: Bands remember the classic album

Andrew Cook of A Rocket To The Moon


What’s your favorite song from Nevermind?
"Breed”

Why?
It was the first song of its kind I'd ever heard. The combination of the drum beat and the bass line in that song got me so excited I could hardly handle it. I also think it's the catchiest chorus Kurt ever wrote.

How do you think Nevermind has influenced music?
I think it set the bar high during a time when bands weren't Auto-Tuning and Beat Detective-ing the crap out of everything. You can hear the raw talent and passion in the performances, and that is completely lost from a lot of current music, sadly. While it may be the most obvious answer, Nevermind influenced music by killing hair metal (thank God) and opening the door for rock bands that weren't leather-clad with teased hair to have mainstream success. It's hard to find as powerful a three-piece to this day.

Anything you’d like to add?
Dave Grohl is the first name out of my mouth when I'm asked about idols, drumming or otherwise. This record is what introduced me to his playing. The first song I ever learned on drums was "In Bloom." Years later, he continues to impress and succeed with Foo Fighters, and has written my favorite rock song of all time, "Everlong." He's done all this while remaining a righteous, down-to-earth guy that I feel like (and wish) I could sit down with and talk to over a beer.

Sergie Loobkoff of Samiam


What’s your favorite song from Nevermind?
I really loved Bleach—still do—but Nevermind just isn't my favorite. Maybe it's a timing thing, but I was predisposed to view this record in a bad light. I saw the band open for Dinosaur Jr. just before Nevermind was released. It was months before Nirvana-mania, but people in this big theater in SF went apeshit for them.

Okay, they were a great band, fair enough—but then my absolute favorite band (Dino Jr.) came on, and an appreciable segment of the audience filed out, and the rest were less than enthused. Being in a band that had been upstaged by others before (repeatedly), well, I took it personally as if I was J Mascis. So when Nevermind came out and everyone jumped on the bandwagon, I resisted liking it on principle! With that said, how can I argue that Nevermind isn't one of the classic masterpieces of rock music? Every single song is a hit and would be a career-defining achievement for mere mortal-led band. Yeah, it's totally amazing, and now, 20 years later, that Dinosaur sting doesn't hurt.

Oh, should I answer your question? Um, It’s so hard. Maybe “Come As You Are.”

Why?
Musically, I was confused initially because the bass line is the hook, and it was the hook of a Killing Joke song. But once you forgive that, it's so perfect. Simple [and] repetitive but great and engaging. The warbly tone sounds underwater—that ties into the album cover too. The lyrics and melody are fantastic; that's what gets you. Plus, the quality of his voice is so amazing. You know, I love lots of singers, but a voice like that is one in a trillion American Idol winners. Ha.

How do you think Nevermind has influenced music?
I think popular music is so fickle that it didn't influence much of what is going on today to the average person. I don't hear it in Rihanna or the latest Disney soundtrack, the things that fill up the charts. But when you talk about guitar-driven rock music,  from punk to metal and things in between, you can't deny that it reinforced the blueprint that everyone takes from. Like Hendrix or Beatles or Chuck Berry or Ramones and whoever. Nirvana is one of those icons.

Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake

(Photo: Dennis Ho)

What’s your favorite song from Nevermind?
“Come As You Are”

Why?
Lyrically, for me it took that ugly sensibility of ’80s punk and spun it for the modern outcast. My  favorite lines: “Dowsed in mud / Soaked in bleach / As I want you to be / As a trend / As a friend / As an old memory.”

How do you think Nevermind has influenced music?
Nevermind taught the high school band that they can take every ounce of aggression and angst, and it could be respected in pop music.

Any other thoughts?
Nevermind was the record [that proved] punk rock can explode into mainstream music. I know Green Day gets cited for opening those doors, but they were already pop music. Nirvana was filthy and unstable, noisy and dangerous.

Chris Conley of Saves The Day

What's your favorite song from Nevermind?
“In Bloom”

Why?
It's a twisted pop song with a heavy groove and great lyrics dripping with alienation and cynicism.

How do you think Nevermind has influenced music?
The chord patterns on Nevermind are atypical, but the melodies are as sugary as they come, while the lyrics are sarcastic and witty in a dark way. In the same way the Beatles brought sunshine to the masses, Nirvana ushered in the age of gloom.

Any other thoughts?
Without Nirvana, emo music would never have been a viable format for rock radio. Their generation's angst and frustration gave way to our generation's longing for a better world.

Nick Diener of the Swellers

What’s your favorite song from Nevermind?
“Lithium”

Why?
That was the song that made me want to learn to play guitar, after I saw them perform it on the MTV VMAs. It's just so pissed. Came across even better live than on CD, too.

How do you think Nevermind has influenced music?
It's obvious that tons of bands were influenced by the sound of Nevermind, but what is even more astronomical is how much it changed the game forever. It reintroduced the loud guitars/big drums/punk attitude from before the hair-band era to a mainstream audience, and it flourished throughout the ’90s. Unfortunately, we fell victim to a new type of hair band in the 2000s, but music is cyclical, and once again bands are thinking, "What would Kurt Cobain do?"

Any other thoughts?
For awhile I mourned the loss of Kurt and how there would be no more new Nirvana records. We're very lucky to have the Foo Fighters now, though. Especially the earlier Foo albums, you can hear a bit of Nirvana creeping in, and it feels good. It retrospect, those records came out very soon after Nirvana disbanded, and you can tell Dave really learned a lot from Kurt about songwriting and really shared the same love for big, loud, honest music.

Frank Turner


What’s your favorite song from Nevermind?

Tough question. Probably “Territorial Pissings.”

Why?
Nirvana are a band who cover a lot of ground, musically and emotionally, and I love it all. But at the end of the day, it’s the visceral rage side of things, the Black Flag-influenced part, that really gets me going. That song tore my face off when I was 13.

How do you think Nevermind has influenced music?
Immeasurably. It basically revived punk in the mainstream consciousness.

Any other thoughts?
In Utero is, in my opinion, a better album, although not as influential.

Blake Harnage of VersaEmerge


(Photo by: Brandon Aviram)

What’s your favorite song from Nevermind?
“Lithium”

Why?
With a mellow, fragile verse, it's almost like the song is teasing you before the chorus blows up. Plus, I'm a fan of bands that can pull off having an entire chorus with one word in it.

How do you think Nevermind has influenced music?
Until Nirvana, hard rock and vulnerable, emotional lyrics seldom met. Cobain and Nirvana played a big part in joining opposite ends of the spectrum and erased musical boundaries. I think it would be interesting to see if he would still be making music and if it would sound at all like old Nirvana. Whether or not he’d be here now, it wouldn’t change the existing recordings and the impact they had.

Ryan Key of Yellowcard


What’s your favorite song from Nevermind?

“Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Why?
You're probably thinking, "Wow. Real original, Ryan." But let me say this: I was 11 years old when Nevermind came out. The way I first experienced it was hearing this song on the radio. I grew up listening to mostly mainstream pop music that was played on the radio, as I didn't have much exposure to anything else. So the opening riff followed by Dave Grohl's famous ba doo de ba doo de ba doo de ba drum intro absolutely blew my mind. It was like nothing I'd ever heard before. It was the perfect thing to show me what rock 'n' roll really was for the first time. All I wanted to do after that was learn how to play the guitar and write songs of my own. So I have to credit the most obvious choice on the record for kickstarting every musical moment in my life since.

How do you think Nevermind has influenced music?
They changed everything for my generation. They opened the door for so many different kinds of rock music to reach a larger audience. I wish it was the same now. Its hard to imagine a band like Nirvana having a No. 1 single on Top 40 radio in 2011.

Any other thoughts?
If it weren't for Nirvana, I wouldn't be in a band today. They truly opened me up to music in a way that no other artist had before them. I wish I could say thanks in person. alt

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reissue nevermind 20th anniversary

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