Pixies React To Nirvana Ripoff Accusations


Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became a huge hit in 1991, topping charts and going platinum in a number of nations. Kurt Cobain released the song with the intention of creating the “ultimate pop song” of those years, even though he also acknowledged “ripping off” an alternative rock group in the process.

In a chat with Rolling Stone, he revealed that The Pixies influenced his music by saying via Rock Celebrities:

“I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily I should have been in that band — or at least in a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.”

Nirvana’s songs, including ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ show signs of The Pixies’ influence, especially with the use of the loud-quiet-loud dynamic. This style rose to fame with Cobain’s group but was also a characteristic element in the ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ band’s records, including 1989’s ‘Dolittle.’

The Pixies members often received questions about the similarities between the two bands’ music during their interviews. In one of those chats, talking to Kerrang, Black Francis said:

“If someone becomes famous like Nirvana did, I can’t really do anything with that information other than sounding like a pompous a** about it. Or, if I go the other direction, I run the risk of sounding unappreciative.”

He shared distaste for being associated with Nirvana and went on:

“At some point, I started to resent it a little bit too. Especially being asked about it because I knew that they were famous and they had some very successful records, but when I’d get asked a question about Nirvana over and over again, I’d think, ‘Where do I fit into this? Am I Nirvana Jr? Am I being validated because some other dude mentioned my name?’ It’s like, ‘F**k that.’ I can’t do anything about it.”

When asked whether he talked about this situation with Cobain, the vocalist revealed:

“I never met him. I think he was a shy person because we were certainly in the same buildings, or the same venues, or the same places a lot of times, but we never actually met.”