1991: The Year That Punk Broke
It’s here. The moment I’ve been looking forward to and dreading in equal measure. The Nineties revival is coming. The recent issue of MOJO is marking 20 years since the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind; an album that made a massive impact on me when I was a teenager. Coincidentally, a podcast that I listen to also had a special 90s edition. The starting point for their discussion was the release of Nevermind.
Nevermind has had a lasting impact on my music taste, even though I haven’t really listened to it properly in over 10 years. What it really demonstrates is the way that innovation happens. Kurt Cobain was heavily influenced by the music that he listened to; The Vaselines, The Butthole Surfers, Iggy & the Stooges, Mudhoney, The Pixies. These bands were never going to really make the mainstream because their ideas were pretty far out and didn’t really appeal to the masses. Sure some of these have had some commercial success but never to the level that Nirvana went on to achieve. Kurt Cobain made all these things easy for the mainstream to digest; he made them pop. In these circles this is not a cool thing to say but it’s true. What made Nirvana special was they were fans; they knew what was happening and created it from a love of what they heard. The other key factor in the album’s success was timing. Mainstream rock music had turned into a pastiche of itself through over-produced, over-indulgent ‘hair metal’ bands. Nirvana swept through in a wave of raw noise and ripped jeans. Nirvana were exciting!! So what does this approach mean 20 years later? If anything it should be easier to create a Nevermind. The world of social networking makes the world of what new things are happening and what people want transparent. The interesting question is, “Who or what is going to be your Kurt Cobain?” Or, how are you going to make sense of all your ideas and focus them into to something that will change somebody’s life?