Nirvana producer Butch Vig recently revealed how Dave Grohl’s drum sound changed Nevermind and how he mixed his background vocals with Kurt Cobain.
Vig told XSNoize, “Listening to Nevermind – the most significant difference between when they came to Smart Studios to do the Smart sessions and going into Sound City Studios was – Dave Grohl had joined the band. And I did not know at that time that they had practiced every day for six months. So, they were tight. I used a click-track on “Lithium” on the record, but that was it because Dave is rock-solid on drums and played so intensely that he really forced Kurt and Krist to play tight with him, and they did! They really locked in as a band so, I did some editing in the studio.
But for the most part, once we had all sounds right, I would just go for the right take each day. And they usually got a keeper-take in two or three, sometimes four takes it was not longer than that. Kurt did not have the patience to do any more takes anyway. The record, at that time, got a long of negative feedback. People were saying it is too produced, it is overproduced – and that is just laughable.
Because it is like – 8 tracks of drums, Bass, one of two guitars, and Kurt sometimes doubling his voice, either he would add in harmony or Dave would sing in harmony. Of the 24-tracks, maybe I used 13 or 14 tracks. Maybe 15 on some songs, but It was dead simple! I think that is one reason why the record has stood the test of time – It does not sound gimmicky. Some records have a sonic stamp on them where you can say, ‘Oh, it’s 1987 because of that keyboard sound’ or ‘That’s the early 80’s. I can tell it by the giant snare-drum sound!.’ I think the production makes Nevermind sound timeless – to a certain extent because it is just bass-drums-guitar and a singer.”