This September will mark 25 years since Nirvana put out their breakthrough album Nevermind. It’s a milestone that recently caught bassist Krist Novoselic off-guard in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I always think it was ’92, because that’s when everything changed,” he says. “That blows my mind.”
Nevertheless, he took a minute to reflect on the similarities and differences between 1991 and now, both in the musical landscape and the political, as he rallies behind non-partisan campaigns like 3 American Questions and FairVote. What struck him immediately, however, was the impact the album had on him and how it holds up. “I listened to some songs off it recently,” he said. “It’s a great record. It changed my life, that’s for sure.” Here, he looks back and forward.
It’s amazing how that record just captures the imagination. It holds up. People are still interested in Nirvana; they’re interested in Kurt Cobain. It’s enduring. And it owes so much to so many bands that came before us. It all just kind of came together with punk and pop and melody and a lot of energy.
Also at the time when that record came out, it seemed like things shifted. Maybe we’ll see something like that in our culture again, maybe something will happen with this election. People want something different. We’ll see.
With Nirvana, people wanted something different musically. In 1991, there was no Number One rock record the whole year before Nevermind. It’s, like, was rock dead? But rock wasn’t dead. It just got reinvented into grunge or alternative, heavy metal, hard rock and punk, art rock – this mishmash of influences. It all came together to make a lot of different music. But the thing is there was a different sensibility, or a realignment. Maybe we’re due for that again.
Maybe that kind of change we’re due for is not musical – maybe it’s political. You can ask, “Why are people turning to Trump or Sanders?” Maybe if we don’t give into the poison of partisanship and we just step back a little and just think about things, maybe everybody has more in common than they think.
What’s different from 1991 to right now is that we have all this information at our fingertips and we can find things. There’s still new music to discover. We don’t have to get music from the radio or television; MTV really broke Nevermind, because they put “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in heavy rotation. So now it’s a different world, because they were basically pushing it. But now, artists want to pull people in. And it seems like Nirvana’s still pulling people in, which is interesting.
Some people say that we were the last pre-Internet band. We got into the corporate sphere and we got pushed on people, and then changed everything. But there was this climate for change. People were ready for something different, and I think this is what we need in our political system: something different. Maybe something will catch on that’s positive.