For those Kurt Cobain fans and historians of another age, here’s an interview from local poet and rock historian Frank Andrick.
Q: What were you up to at the time when you interviewed Kurt?
A: living in SF – dj-ing in clubs such as 3 clicks out in marin, the underground in san francosco and the oasis in san francisco (dj before between live bands) and for bill graham at his wolfgangs club and also at the original fillmore auditorium – also at the time I was writing and interviewing musicians for joy williams ‘artist publications’ we decided to get me published in europe – they paid ahole lot more and it was glossy magazines and also PRAVDA so we qent that route but artists were thrilled to be published in those venues everybody from nirvana to NWA ‘niggers with attitude ‘ loved that aspect. I am very fortunate that thru artist publications and fans of the bands most of those interviews are still available on-line and even translated into various languages.
Q: What was going on musically or culturally in the 90s in SF? Beats still? Hippies?
A: sort of a trough to me … alternative radio was dead or even worse had been co-oppted into ‘the city’ and dumb corporate leadership and research which dellivered the results they wanted and dumbed down the formats even more. It was the last days of big record companies, promo people, and yet a rise in music that most radio except college radio ignored … i’m talking about grunge/punk, indudustrial music, and hard core rap like NWA.
Kurt in SF:
Q: What was it generally like to hang out with Kurt Cobain in SF? At that time, did it strike you that you were hanging out with an icon?
A: like hanging out w/ anyone else that is intelligent, bright, a good conversationalist, sometimes smiliy and kid like sometimes depressed and sad about the state of things. To me … I have never felt I was with an icon with anyone … we just hung out , talked, and smoked pot. We shared writing and talk about some writers … read to each other but I do that w/my friends now. It was like cool people w/ cool bands friends that came to town from time to time. Lucky me got to go to seattle in my A&M record days when everyone was poor and I had an expense account. We had good times
Q: Did Kurt like San Francisco? Did he share any general impressions or talk about what he liked or didn’t like?
A: yeah he liked it a lot – hated the preciousness of some things, loved the history and was interested in sf stories of bands and venues and the ideas of hippies tho unrealized the philosophy of hippies and spiritual growth and evolution. Ideals that were abandoned when hippies became yuppies. But were REAL none-the-less
Q: SF has always been a friendly city to outlaws and weirdos. Did that draw Kurt? Did he fit in?
A: yeah the myth of san francisco freedom was appealing. It was still wide open then. You could be anything you wanted and it was cool. he fit in cuz he did not fit in. all of us found comfortable ‘tribes’
Q: He was at a friend’s party when you interviewed him. Do you remember where in the city that was? Where he stayed or where he ate? Any specifics like that?
A: in sf at a club closed for the occasision lower potero hill … fo.llowing nirvana’s triumphant first headlining at the warfield w/ Hole and Sister Double Happiness . It was also the night following bill graham’s death. For me and my friends ALL the drinks were free and everyone was already drunk by the time we got to the ‘party’ I was supposed to interview kurt earlier but it never happened ( I had a yahct ride w/ champagne and my girlfriend that afternoon) … at the party a drunk kurt yelled at a drunk me that we should do the interview NOW before we became unable to speak. It was a good idea – we founda booth, a pitcher of beer and thats how the interview happened.
SF’s influence on Kurt:
Q: Did Cobain associate at all with any of the SF cultural movements like the Beats? The hippies? Was he drawn to the culture of the city?
A: yes esp. the beats and the mystique about them … the hippies a love and a disapointment – the old punk/new wave culture – crime, the nuns, avengers, flipper, fright wig etc etc and 2nd wave like sister double happiness. He was drawn to city lights – I spent some time turning him onto philip lamanta but he was well versed in ginsberg, mr. K, ferlinghetti etc and enjoyed my recordings of said folks. I could see him doing a spoken word w/ sound thing at city lights … his record w/ burro8ughs the spoken word piece ‘the priest they called him’ was just the start … and then he died. Q: In your interview with him, Kurt said that he had few influences, and didn’t want to mention any specifically. But do you know if he had any specific influences?
well I guess I dealt w/ that above but i’ll add
A: extensive knowledge of other for no better word ‘college radio ‘ music. From early punk / new wave such as sex pistols, the slits, the raincoats, stranglers, wire, subway sect, the cure the banshee’s the brit scene … patti smith he loved, television both verlaine and richard hell camps – he knew their history – american stuff is documented all over and he had a keen sense of history and obscurity – back in the days when you could judge peopl e by their record collections … KURT WAS KOOL poetically … patti smith, baudelaire, richrad hell, rimbaud and burroughs is what we read to each other but our time was still limited … I do sometimes wonder what a conversation would be like now … sooo much more knowledge.
Kurt’s influence on SF:
Q: You said in your interview that there was a huge fervor when Nirvana played at the Warfield Theater. Do you know whether Nirvana or grunge music generally had a lasting impact on San Francisco’s music scene?
A: first there are a hell of a lot of nirvana / kurt courtney t-shirts out there – I go to safeway and hear the cure and nirvana playing as store music … and I like it … its subtle but real fuck yeah – we won – also we got cooppted and sold out and burned out and marginalized and icon-o-fied and disssed … yet like the beats, the hippies 1st wave punk new wave and the last wave nirvana/grunge/noise music w/ pop overtones something happened. The what/where/how/magick that was bigger than the outsized personalites bigger than the fashion statements that became meaningless after a time – there was a core an undefinable ‘something’ that a creative unique portal was opened and conciousness moved fwd. Once more. In sf the club live music scene … its just not the same,
we also had GREAT underground press and support from zines w/ one edition to Punk Globe, Search and Destroy, Research, and even BAM Magazine and the dailys were fairly open to new ideas. I remember open and accepting and also snobby and too trendy for its own good. And all that was good. Also very important gay lesbian, omni-sexual, leather punk, suburban kid, outre artists body sculpturists,, jeans and sport jacket, bowiesque thin white suits, street urchins … everybody was in as long as you were out… inclusionists w/out trying. Thats honest and real and that was Nirvana too. Beautiful and the scars too.
This is awesome Frank! All these details are so fascinating. I just have three quick follow-up questions that came to mind:
Q- You mentioned that you shared writing, talked about writers, and read read to each other. Did this happen at the party when you interviewed him? Or at a later time? Did you talk to him more than once? Also I remember you saying one time you had Kurt’s diaries and Courtney Love ended up getting them and publishing them–or something like that. Is that something you can talk about?
A- had alot of contact w/ kurt — a friend was the national merch sub pop person and another friend the national radio promotion person. both were friends of kurt. so i saw nirvana probably a dozen times between seattle and san francisco … it was still possible to just talk to people back in those days … so we knew and could joke w/ each other. all those prior to the show at the warfield which was ironically the last time i saw kurt and talked to him.
nirvana used to play this club on divisidero called the du-viz to some people. oh i forgot i dj-d there a couple of times too but i think my friend and radio co-hort ‘The Germ’ was there … so kurt DID have stomach probs and after soundchecks would come to my house on oak st and rest out smoke pot and relax and be close to the venue for showtime. another friend of ours, the doctor who signed off on the death certificate, dr. nick lived there also as my roommate, so he was already among friends at our house. The best di-vis show i remember w/ nirvana was nirvana mud honey and tad as the bill. rockin’
the diaries were note books he would pull out of his knapsack — lined ruler paper like grade school w/ thoughts, poems, drawings, journal enteries etc. i saw and knew about them so after his death i asked my friends at geffen records about them — i wanted to publish them. kurt had expressed upon many an occasison he would rather head a publishing co. of alternative writers than just be another rock and roll rich guy w/ his own private record label. i uuuh seconded that idea … so geffen talked to courtney (this is the very short version) and she said they did not exist … i insisted even after i moved to france … then she said they did exist but she had no idea where they were .. i insisted … then she found them but could not deal w/ it emotionally … i insisted and said ‘let me do it – i’ll go thru it and do the work — courtney ‘dropped’ the idea as too difficult shelved it … 2 years later rosemary carroll (jim carroll’s x-wife and executor of the jim estate) in her capacity as the attorney for kurt, nirvana and courtney at the time got courtney a 4 and a half million dollar deal for those ‘diaries’ … so … sooo … well the packaging all the notebooks together original size hard bound looks and reads great … so thats my story and i’m …
wow … ok … a bit longer than i thought…hope this answers your questions and works for you.