Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the release of one of the most influential rock albums of all time: ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana. Boasting huge anthems and classic tracks such as ‘Breed’, ‘Lithium’, ‘Come As You Are’, ‘Drain You’ and of course ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, the album undeniably boosted the Seattle misfits into super stardom and changed the face of music ever since.
Without Nirvana, and especially the release of ‘Nevermind’, many of today’s most popular rocks acts may not be around today at all, and the shape of music as we know it could’ve been completely different. We asked a few of today’s rising rock stars what they remember from ‘Nevermind’, what the album means to them and what their favourite track is from the record.
Murray Macleod (The Xcerts vocalist/guitarist)
The first thing I ever bought by Nirvana was the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ CD single. I had no idea who they were or what they sounded like, but I remember my dad telling me he thought I’d like it. The reason I picked up the single was because the front cover was so intriguing; it was a photo of the band, but it was so out of focus and the band members faces were really distorted. I’d never seen anything like it before. Most photos of bands (who I knew of) were crystal clear, you could easily decipher who played what role in the band. However, a famous rock band who purposefully put a blurry picture on the front cover of their biggest single? Well, this was my kind of band. From there my obsession spiraled, and although ‘Nevermind’ isn’t actually my favourite Nirvana record, it’s still a masterpiece. ‘Something In The Way’ is one of my favourite tracks from the album, such a simple yet stunning song. The lyrics in that song have always fascinated me. The story of Kurt sleeping rough under a bridge in Seattle is one of many myths about him, but when sung so beautifully and vividly, it almost feels like you’re actually there with him.
Romily Alice (Japanese Voyeurs vocalist/guitarist)
‘Nevermind’ was one of the first records I fell in love with, and I still feel the same way about it that I did when I was twelve. It has a timeless quality that I think stems from the genuine emotion in the vocals which hit you with brute force every time. My favourite tracks are ‘Drain You’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
Nirvana generally, and ‘Nevermind’ in particular, were a real moment of punk rock epiphany for me. After years of listening to bands like Pantera and Metallica, that were cool but whose music I couldn’t possibly copy (I was too shit at guitar and didn’t have a million dollar studio), here was a band that sounded like us: simple chords, simple ideas, a juggernaut of attitude, pain and feeling. I felt like I could make this music, it wasn’t the preserve of some far-off caste of rock stars, it was for people like me. ‘Territorial Pissings’ is still my favourite track, I just couldn’t believe anyone could record and release a song like that when I first heard it.
Austin Dickinson (Rise To Remain vocalist)
I personally love ‘In Bloom’, I think that track is awesome. The chorus is just so loud and vibrant, Kurt Cobain‘s husked up voice is spitting out hooks and the riffs are so memorable. Mind you, the entire album pretty much follows suit, but after ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ as track one, ‘In Bloom’ smashes you in the head again. Such a tune. Such an album.
[You can hear their cover of the track ‘Breed’ right here.]
Steve Sears (Spy Catcher vocalist)
‘Nevermind’ was one of the first angry records I ever heard, so it’ll always be an album that reminds me of being young and desperately wanting to make an absolute racket in any band I could. ‘Something In The Way’ was a cool track to do because there was loads of room to make it our own. That might piss some people off, but what’s the point in trying to emulate the unique feel the original had? We just had fun with it and played around with a truckload of vintage gear.
[You can hear their cover of the track ‘Something In The Way’ right here.]
Jono Yates (Blitz Kids guitarist/vocalist)
Who knew that these kids from Seattle would leave a permanent, beautiful, beer fuelled semen stain on the rock ‘n’ roll duvet? ‘Nevermind’ was a masterpiece in every sense of the word. It was just so dirty compared to all of the sickly sweet hair metal that was around. Being in a successful band no longer required hours of practicing scales in your room. It inspired thousands of kids to pick up a guitar, learn a couple of chords and just play them as loud as possible (not forgetting the compulsory filthy flannel shirt). The more people they pissed off whilst they did it, the better. On a personal note, I’d never have thought I could forge a career in music of it wasn’t for Nirvana. Previously, it was just an unattainable dream. When I heard ‘Nevermind’, I thought “Hold up, I can do this”. ‘Territorial Pissings’ is undoubtedly my favourite song of the record. The relentless, adrenaline fuelled brutality is spellbinding. It’s the kind of song I want played at my funeral just to piss off my parents, because deep down, I’m still that moody teenager, sat in my room, not doing my homework, listening to Nirvana.
Nicky Jones (Dangerous! guitarist)
Every time I put on this record, I’m blown away by the noise these 3 guys make. It’s fucking outrageous. The ultimate punk record! I can’t get enough of ‘Stay Away’. The verse is one of my favourite ‘Nevermind’ moments. The aggression when Kurt screams “Stay away” is undeniable. There’s signature Novoselic bass lines in there and Dave really belts the hell out of this track. The line “rather be dead than cool” is as good as it gets.
[You can hear their cover of the track ‘Endless, Nameless’ right here.]
Sean Keane (Hildamay guitarist)
I was about 14 when I first heard ‘Nevermind’, and I remember it having everything that a kid getting into rock music wanted; gritty guitars, raw vocals and angst-ridden anthems. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was one of the first songs I learnt on guitar, but it wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I realised the real importance of this record. While coked-up hair metal was dominating the mainstream with songs about girls and being a rock-star, ‘Nevermind’ was resonating deeply with that disconnected generation in 1991. It’s a great guitar rock album full of rebellion and teenage angst, but Kurt‘s lyrics also deliver this kind of unity through his own sorrows, like his battle with depression. My favourite song on the album would have to be ‘Something In The Way’ because it kind of puts the whole album into perspective; Kurt is just this disenfranchised kid like everyone else. I love this record because it’s so lazy and apathetic, whenever I hear it in a club I am compelled to mosh and play air guitar at my knees.