Reporting Shannon Carlin
On July 22, 1993, Kurt Cobain sat down with John Savage just a few months before the release of Nirvana’s final album, In Utero, to talk about identity and the struggles he had faced with his over the years.
The interview has now been repurposed thanks to PBS Digital Studios web series, Blank On Blank, which uses animation to bring new life to audio interviews that have slipped through the cracks over time. In this particular clip (via the AV Club), Cobain talks about being an outsider. particularly in high school, where he says he would have been voted “most likely to kill everyone at a high school dance.”
He also talks about listening to Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin as a kid, but later feeling a disconnect with the music, saying it was just “about their dicks, and having sex” which he felt disrespected women.
Cobain also says as a teenager he thought he might have been gay. “I thought that might be the solution,” Cobain said. Though he never acted on it, he said he did have a gay friend who his mom eventually told him he could not hang out. “Because, well, she was homophobic,” he explained.
But Cobain didn’t always feel like an outsider. In the interview he talks about finding solace in punk rock. Though he suffered from physical pain, which includes an inflamed stomach and chronic back pain, he said it helped his music. ”I’m always in pain and it really adds to the anger in our music,” he explained. “I’m really grateful for it in a way.”
But being married and having a child helped him get past some of the pain. “In the past year, my whole mental state and physical state has almost improved one hundred percent.”
Cobain committed suicide less than a year after the taping of this interview.
Nirvana recently released the 20th anniversary deluxe edition of In Utero, which includes three discs and 70 songs that range from live cuts, unreleased demos, B-sides, and the newly discovered instrumental track “Forgotten Tune.”
They’re also on this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot alongside artists like Hall & Oates, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, The Replacements, Yes, Cat Stevens, Link Wray and The Zombies. Nirvana is the only act this year to be nominated in their first year of eligibility.