Could a Band As Loud As Nirvana Ever Be Popular Again?
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Nirvana!
Twenty years later, it’s easy to forget just how loud, lacerated, and altogether ugly some of Nirvana’s songs were. And throughout the movie, it’s hard not to wonder just how the band became so huge, how this Hale-Bopp career happened. Cobain was blessed with an irrepressible mind-gem of hummability in his songwriting, that preternatural thing that colors generations and confounds parents.1 But throughout, Cobain is portrayed as the consummate sacred artist, far more interested in the pursuit of personal expression and privacy than in fame, money, stardom, or any of its vagaries. As he grew older, Cobain’s songs blackened with char and pain. The burns imprinted by Steve Albini’s production on In Utero are like a ritual branding. Cast out the warmth, bury the natural light. But it kept creeping in. “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” was. “Rape Me” is a beautiful pop song. Cobain never could help it.
you beat me to posting a grantland article!
“I look at it like this. You start a band, just as something to do, because music’s what makes you tick, the thing you dream about and think about and that’s it. You never think that you’ll be able to do it all the time. But then, for some inexplicable reason, people actually listen and latch on and the band begins to take on new meaning. All of a sudden there are expectations and pressure, real or imagined, to change who you are. It was important to us, when making this record, not to give in to that pressure.”
That’s not a Kurt Cobain quote. It feels like one. It’s the kind of thing Cobain was fond of saying, exasperatingly, to an exceedingly velociraptoresque rock press corps. He utters some iteration of that sentiment several times in Montage of Heck. The quote comes from Alex Edkins of the Toronto band Metz. It appears in the opening sentences of the band’s new biography on the website of the band’s label, Sub Pop, which also happens to be the label that released Bleach in 1989. Edkins is the frontman of another three-piece that makes music that sounds like God broke his jackhammer while trying to thunder through the Chrysler Building. Metz has a new album out this week, with the ascetic title Metz II. It, too, is loud, lacerated, and ugly. It’s also excellent. Asceticism and anger are appropriate touchstones for the band — they wield a helicopter-blade power, as liable to decapitate you as take you high into the sky on its relentless whirr. But they are not popular by any traditional metric. In fact, it’s impossible to imagine Metz ever being popular. Nevermind sold 30 million albums. Metz’s debut, Metz, sold fewer than 50,000. Metz has no hope of Maroon 5–esque pop stardom, the last of its kind available to bands. Instead, its members trudge on, foot soldiers in an army that can’t find the war.
Yeah I was surprised you didn't post this.
Metz is pretty good:
And it does feel like a Kurt Cobain quote.