Gene Simmons wanted to have Nirvana record on a KISS tribute album in the 90’s, and Kurt Cobain had In Utero producer Steve Albini call him to turn it down.
Albini told the Cobras and Fire podcast, “[KISS bassist] Gene Simmons. Yeah, he was trying to talk Nirvana into appearing on a KISS tribute album, and they didn’t want to do it. But they didn’t particularly want to talk to Gene Simmons, so they had me call him and pretend to be Kurt.
That was pretty funny. Basically I just sort of bumbled my way through an excuse that would allow them to not do it without having to say they didn’t want to do a KISS tribute record. I mean, yeah, they were very fun-loving people. I enjoyed that session, they were fun to hang around with, and it was entertaining.”
He then discussed the record label’s reaction to In Utero, “After we finished the record, I went home, got a call a few days later from Kurt; he said, ‘Yeah, everybody hates the record.’ Their management, the record company hates it – ‘They want us to redo it.’
And I said, ‘Well, I think you did a great job, I don’t think you should redo it.’ He said, ‘Yeah, we love it.’ And then he called me back a few days later; he said, ‘Yeah, we want to mix a few songs.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ll listen to it, and if I think I can do better on anything, I’m happy to fly out and help you with it. But if I don’t think I can do better, then you’re on your own, you can do what you want with it.’
So I had a copy of a master, and so I put it on – I have a studio at home – and I put my copy of the master on it, I listened to the playback and I just thought it sounded great. I felt like we really ran the sponge as the way I would describe it at the time, I felt like we did the most out of everything and that it sounded terrific.
The next time I spoke to Kurt, I said, ‘Look, I don’t think I can do any better. I think all this stuff sounds fantastic. And if you want to redo some stuff, you have my blessing; I’m not gonna be a dick about anything, I just feel like you did a really great job and that you should be proud of yourself.’
And so they ended up making small adjustments to a couple of songs, added some backing vocals to one song. I can’t remember what the other little adjustments were, but they ended up remixing a couple of songs.
But the bulk of the album is essentially the same as when we finished it. And I said this at the time, the record that didn’t make its way into the stores is the record that Nirvana wanted people to hear. And it’s their record, and they get to make those decisions, so I had no gripe with Nirvana.”