Nirvana producer Steve Albini discussed Kurt Cobain prank calling Eddie Vedder in the studio while recording In Utero in a new Cobras and Fire podcast interview.
Kurt [Cobain] had kind of a loose, sloppy feel to his sound that really isn’t that sloppy or loose. They, as a band, are very tight.
“Yeah, they had been touring a lot, they had been playing together as a band and toured quite a lot. These songs were well-rehearsed, they had done a demo session when they were on tour in South America.
They stopped in a little studio in Rio and did demos of all these songs, so they worked out all the arrangements. There wasn’t a lot in question when they got to the studio, they just needed to, they were basically just executing it.
So we were done fairly quickly; days didn’t seem stressful or long, they were very productive. There was a lot of material, 18 songs, something like that, but they were more than prepared to do it, and everything went very smoothly.”
Would you agree that it’s easy to kind of dismiss Kurt as a guitar player when really his style isn’t something that anybody can execute?
He has a certain sense, the dynamics of the song – you can tell in his playing when it’s meant to be sort of gentle and somber – he plays to that emotional intensity on the guitar. And then when it’s meant to be raging and explosive, he goes all the way to 11. I don’t think there’s any black art to it, it’s just that he was paying attention when he was putting the arrangements together and when he was writing the songs. ‘This part is gonna be low key, this part is gonna be big…'”
Rolling Stone ran one of those articles and it said in there that you prank-called [Pearl Jam singer] Eddie Vedder from the studio. Is that accurate? What were the other ones?
“Yeah, there were a couple of prank calls that went down during this session, and that was one of them.”
Ultimate-Guitar transcribed Albini’s comments.
Mehrt_thermpsen posted on the Nirvana Reddit recently, “Does ‘Live and Loud’ kind of bum anyone else out? It just seems to me that Kurt was not into it at all. And knowing the turmoil him and the band were going through adds to the negative vibe imo. Some great performances no doubt, and it’s awesome to see Pat playing with the band, but damn. It’s kind of sad. Anyway, have a great weekend!”
Bryan_nov responded, “I agree. I mean it was good show but not nearly one of their best. Kurt was probably just uncomfortable due to all the cameras but who really knows. The last three shows in that same month are so much more better. Kurt was really into those last three shows with him even talking a lot to the audience. Really wish those ones were released professionally because the energy in those shows are amazing.”