ADVENTSGAVE DEL 1: Punk Rock is Freedom – Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam

ADVENTSGAVE DEL 1: Punk Rock is Freedom – Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam

Adventsgave Del 1: Uddrag fra GAFFA-skribent Henrik Tuxens nye bog Punk Rock is Freedom.

Da grunge buldrede frem i Seattle, blev en lokal punkundergrund pludselig forvandlet til allemandseje med kæmpe kommerciel gennemslagskraft. Det var en rus af succes, men langt fra kun en velsignelse og bragte en masse konflikter mod autenticitet, ægthed og troværdig på banen, internt som eksternt.

Polariseringen mellem de to største bands Pearl Jam og Nirvana og deres fans var den mest markante, selvom Cobain senere udtrykte sin personlige respekt for Eddie Vedder som menneske. Spor, der stadig kan ses i dag. Her er lidt om tiden efter Ten og Nevermind, og hvad Pearl Jams Mike McCready og Stone Gossard og Cobains manager Danny Goldberg efterfølgende tænkte om dramaet fra start-90'erne.

The Battle of Seattle – Punk aesthetics and the war on grunge


Around the year 1992 the concept of Grunge had become common property, and the City of Seattle was the undisputed rock'n'roll Capital of the World. Besides Nirvana; Soundgarden and Alice in Chains were very successful and bands like Screaming Trees and Mudhoney were enjoying global recognition. In the following year 1993, Nirvana's follow up In Utero and Pearl Jam’s ditto Vs. were released within three weeks of each other.

Both album made it directly to #1 on the Billboard chart, but In Utero sold 180.000 unites, outnumbered five times by Vs.’ record breaking sale of 950.000 copies within its first week of release. Two giants rising from the same origin, subculture and geographic region, but throughout his life Kurt would frequently attack Eddie Vedder & Co.

Punk aesthetic

This feud or public battle was like a bonfire, on which Kurt Cobain kept throwing wood in order to portray and define himself. Kurt was battling or questioning a lot of bands, as to reveal what he saw as respectively true and genuine contrary to fake alternative wrapping.

The attacks were numerous, and made especially good press related to Pearl Jam, because the two bands were so similar in many ways. Both new, young, from the same city, same basic style, appeal, approach  and even ideology. The international press has always fed on pop war, polarising artists and bands as rivals like football teams competing with each other.

The war with Pearl Jam, was really pretty one-sided. It was basically Kurt accusing, and Pearl Jam keeping silent. Kurt, at least for a while, expressed he was almost on a mission to warn the American Youth of forgeries. Like a premature version of the now otherwise common term ‘Fake News’. In a cover story of Rolling Stone in April 1992

Kurt expressed that he felt it was his duty to warn young teenagers against fake 'Cock-Rock bands' as Pearl Jam. According to Kurt they were fake to their proclaimed ideals, but mainly aiming to cash in, by riding on a general wave of genre-popularity.

Pure poison

When I spoke with Pearl Jam guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready in 2006, years after Kurt's passing away, they reflected on the time and conflicts as follows.

Mike McCready: "It really hurt, when Kurt called us 'Corporate Rock', which were heavy blown up in the media. I really liked Nirvana as a band, so it hurt me on a personal level, and made me realise that I, myself, shouldn't do the same to other bands. We never really reacted towards it, although I often wanted to."

Stone Gossard: "It's the same kind of gossip, you'll find in all small towns, where there's many different bands, busy positioning themselves, often in opposition to other local bands. But in this particular situation, the international press was present, to snap up every single word being said... I can see how easy it was for him to end up saying all these things. It was like some kind of media-gutter. And there were some truth to what he was saying – but if we were this pure poison – which he more less said – that's a different story.

Although Danny Goldberg stood behind his true friend, ‘client’ and golden bird Kurt Cobain, who for him was in a league of his own, he never had a good feeling with these expressions:

I was crumbling my toes, every time I read something he said about Pearl Jam..."

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