There’s no denying the impact Nirvana’s had on both their legions of fans and their rock peers and proteges. During his recent appearance on the Conan O’ Brien Needs a Friend podcast, for instance, drummer/Foo Fighters mastermind Dave Grohl suggested that the iconic trio’s third and final LP – 1993’s In Utero – likely rubbed off on both Weezer’s Pinkerton and Bush’s Razorblade Suitcase.
Grohl – alongside bassist Krist Novoselic and producer Steve Albini – spoke with O’Brien about a ton of things related to the 30th anniversary of In Utero (such as being wealthy and punk, living in “squalor” pre-Nirvana and dealing with sudden fame). Near the end of their chat, Albini comments on “the public perception” that “the record label insisted that they change things and Nirvana gave in on some stuff.” In reality, he says, Nirvana “resolve[d] these things on their own,” meaning that “the record that made it into the stores is the record that Nirvana wanted everybody to hear.”
That assessment prompted Grohl to add his own perspective regarding the record’s larger influence on rock music: “The funny thing is that after In Utero, it became kind of a predictable move for other bands that were in similar situations,” including Weezer and Bush.
Specifically, Grohl continues:
An unknown band . . . gets a record deal [and] goes into the studio . . . with a producer and they make an album . . . and it does really well and then they feel kind of weird about it because maybe it didn’t sound the way they wanted it to sound . . . and then they go in to make their second record and they’re like, “Well, now this is what we really sound like.”
So, Weezer did it with their album ‘Pinkerton,’ which is a fucking amazing record. The first Weezer record [1994’s ‘Weezer’] has a bunch of hits and they become really popular. Then they go in to make their second record . . . . and it’s kind of like their ‘In Utero.’
Another band [is] Bush. Bush is a band that gets really popular and has this produced record [1994’s ‘Sixteen Stone’]. Then, they decide, “No, wait, fuck that. Now that we’re big, we get to do the thing that we really want to do, so we’re going to go in and make an album that’s raw [in] the way it sounds [1996’s ‘Razorblade Suitcase’].
Coincidentally, Razorblade Suitcase was also produced by Albini, so that might explain the connection even more.
To be fair, Grohl also states: “I don’t know if it was something that was happening before – I’m sure it happened a million times before In Utero.” Yet, he expounds:
But, for people that came from the place that we came from – being in the garage and being in the van and begin in the clubs and stuff like that – I think maybe if a band felt uncomfortable with their immediate rise to fame, that’s the knee-jerk reaction is to go in and make an album where they’re like, “No, no, wait. This is what we sound like.”
READ MORE: Foo Fighters Rock ‘Saturday Night Live’ With ‘Correct’ Christopher Walken Intro, Dave Grohl Appears in Two Sketches
He makes a good point, right? Regardless of if certain bands had that mentality pre-In Utero, it’s easy to see how Nirvana’s swan song at least made such bold moves more enticing.
You can listen to the entire episode of Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend below.
As for Grohl’s other major project – Foo Fighters – the sextet are currently touring in support of 2023’s But Here We Are (their first album with drummer Josh Freese taking over for the late Taylor Hawkins). You can check out the remaining dates here and grab tickets here.
Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic + Steve Albini on Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend Podcast
See Nirvana ‘MTV Unplugged’ in New York Photos
Photos of Nirvana during their historic MTV Unplugged session recorded Nov. 18, 1993. The show aired Dec. 16, 1993. The live album was released Nov. 1, 1994, five months after singer Kurt Cobain died by suicide.
Gallery Credit: Todd Fooks