I love everything about my job, except being away from the kids.
I think my biggest musical hero growing up was probably Ian MacKaye. He set a great example for all of us local musicians. Still, to this day, I see him as the best example of a right-on musician.
All I really had was a suitcase and my drums. So I took them up to Seattle and hoped it would work.
I didn’t start sweating until I had children. That was one of the first things I realized when my daughter Violet was born – I started getting wicked BO. You know there’s a difference between basketball BO and stress BO? This was definitely stress BO. Like, new dad BO.
The most important thing is that you honor that musical integrity, whether you make music that sounds like ABBA or you make music that sounds like Void.
Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument – learning to do your craft – that’s the most important thing! It’s not about what goes on in a computer!
When digital technology started becoming the norm, you’ve got 50, 60, 70 years of recordings on tapes that are just deteriorating. Like, a two-inch reel of recording tape won’t last forever. It dissolves. It will disappear.
There’s something about pulling out a real tape from a shelf and looking at it and knowing that ‘Everlong’ is on it, or ‘Best of You’ is on it, and it’s really special.
It’s a weird thing when you make records. You try to hear it before you make it, so you walk into the studio with this idea of what you expect to happen, and that usually changes. That usually turns into something else, and that’s a good thing.
Usually, when Nirvana made music, there wasn’t a lot of conversation. We wanted everything to be surreal. We didn’t want to have some contrived composition.
No one has any faith in the tape anymore – everyone just relies on computers and considers the hardrive to be the safest option, and I don’t. I think an analog tape is something you can hold.
A lot of the records you buy, there’s nothing you can hold in your hand, it’s all 1’s and 0’s, this digital cloud floating in the ether. but with analog albums, you can hold it in your hand.
‘In Utero’ was the first time I’d made an album that reached into the dark side. I remember the conflict and the uncertainty. I remember all those things when I hear ‘Pennyroyal Tea.’
I’m happy that I have my family, and I’m happy that I had Virginia, where I grew up, to retreat to any time I felt overwhelmed. Whenever there were times when I felt like the rug was being pulled out from under me and I was floating in this crazy space, I would stop and go back to that neighborhood and realize nothing’s changed, really.
It’s good to wander into the studio and walk out with something that’s better than you’d imagined it to be. If everything was as you imagined it to be, it just wouldn’t be as much fun.