Kurt Cobain has become a canonized figure in music. From the way the media portrayed him to the way people hung on his every word, there is no doubt that he left a lasting impression on music fans and the disaffected youths of the world. His untimely death in 1994 brought the music world to a standstill, affecting people in almost the same way as the Kennedy assassination. Though he is gone, Cobain’s thoughts still live on because of fans new and old who continue to be influenced by him. Here are eight of Kurt Cobain’s most memorable quotes.
Number Eight: Kurt Cobain on Indie Bands Signing to Major Labels
When grunge was starting to become big in the late 1980s and early 1990s, major labels were looking into signing hot, underground bands. Things were no different with Nirvana, as labels were unsuccessfully trying to court them away from their home at Sub Pop. When asked what would happen if all the indie bands signed to major labels during an unpublished 1990 interview in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Kurt Cobain tongue-in-cheekly responded “Chalk one up for capitalism. Let’s get our top hats and tails and have a cigar. Alternative music is no longer alternative once it’s in the mainstream.”
Number Seven: On Revival Acts
During the same 1990 interview (in fact, during the same answer) Cobain takes a dig at nostalgia culture, which seems pretty relevant to today’s massive interest in the past. He said “It’s a sure sign that rock is slowly dying. There’s nothing like wallowing in the past when everything in the future looks bleak… When they’re afraid of what’s in front of them they always look back. They’ll reach a plateau and they’ll think everything has been done, but in reality, they’re just not thinking hard enough.”
Number Six: On Punk Rock
Cobain had been following punk since reading about the Sex Pistols’ U.S. tour but found it difficult to find such music in his local record stores. It wasn’t until Melvins frontman and personal friend Buzz Osborne made him some mix tapes containing music from Black Flag and Flipper that Cobain found what he was looking for in music, as well as opened his eyes to sexism in popular music. He told Jon Savage in 1993 that “punk expressed the way I felt socially and politically. There were so many things going on at once. It expressed the anger I felt, the alienation.”
Number Five: On Being a Frontman
Kurt Cobain was originally a drummer before he became a guitarist. However, his intention with that was never to become a singer or the leading force in a band. He told Rolling Stone in a 1992 interview that “I never wanted to sing. I just wanted to play rhythm guitar – hide in the back and just play. But during those high school years when I was playing guitar in my bedroom, I at least had the intuition that I had to write my own songs.”
Number Four: Looking Back on the Success of ‘Nevermind’
The success of Nevermind was very sudden and affected Cobain heavily for many years. He eventually came to terms with it, telling Rolling Stone in 1994 about the success, “It was so fast and explosive, I didn’t know how to deal with it. If there was a Rock Star 101 course, I would have liked to take it. It might have helped me.”
Number Three: On Women in Rock Music
A forward-thinking male feminist, Kurt Cobain has talked out against rape and the oppressive treatment of women. He was once quoted as saying, “I like the comfort in knowing that women are the only future in rock and roll.” It is because of this quote that when Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, the band had female singers front the band, citing that that is what Cobain would have wanted.
Number Two: On Drug Use and Influence
Very aware of his influence on people, Kurt Cobain kept his heroin abuse a secret for a long time. In a 1993 Melody Maker interview, he said that “I have a responsibility to not promote a negative lifestyle. If I choose to live my life in a negative way which may influence kids to do what I do, then I have no problem telling kids how lame it is to act that way.” He went on to say “I think people who glamorize drugs are f***ing a******s and, if there’s a hell, they’ll go there. It’s really bad karma.”
Number One: On ‘Selling Out’
Kurt Cobain’s opinion on “selling out” changed as he got older. By 1992, Nirvana had signed to DGC and Nevermind was becoming a huge hit. For the first time, the band had money to pay bills and a platform for getting punk to the masses. Cobain told Rolling Stone in 1992 that “I don’t blame the average 17-year-old punk-rock kid for calling me a sellout. I understand that. And maybe when they grow up a little bit, they’ll realize there’s more things to life than living out your rock & roll identity so righteously.” He continued on later in the interview, saying “I should feel really guilty about it; I should be living out the old punk-rock threat and denying everything commercial and sticking in my own little world and not really making an impact on anyone other than the people who are already aware of what I’m complaining about. It’s preaching to the converted.” Thank you for reading our list of Kurt Cobain’s 8 most memorable interview quotes. We hope you enjoyed it!