Nevermind was the second studio album for American rock band Nirvana, released in 1991. It went on to sell over 30 million copies (and counting), world-wide. Great White Productions have re-created and will perform the songs from Nevermind with five singers. It must be a daunting experience covering someone as revered as Nirvana, but not so for Sean “Grohl” Kemp, who spoke to us about his inspiration for taking on the grunge icons.
“Well, for starters, I’ve always liked Nirvana, their song-writing and the legend that was Kurt Cobain. What a character! Even back when I was in high school, my brother and I would put on lunch time concerts playing songs off the Nevermind album. So, it’s been an album that has stuck with me from the time I first heard ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’, when I was 16 years old. Fast forward to present day, I was lucky enough to be given a ticket to see the Green Day Broadway show ‘American Idiot’ and was just fascinated by it! The band played like Green Day but they had four to five lead singers in the show, male and female who took turns singing those particular songs – But in their own way and in their unique voices. Immediately it gave me an idea. What if I took my favourite album, got a few different singers, male and female to sing the songs off Nevermind and turned it into a show? You would have Nirvana – Nevermind the Singer, because, it’s Nirvana, the iconic album – But sung with other voices – Rather than just Kurt Cobain’s voice, but do it some justice and bring those songs to life in a rather left of centre, way. Also, I have to say, when Nirvana were inducted into the American Music Hall of Fame, they got back together and had Lorde, Joan Jett and St Vincent sing Nirvana songs! I loved it! That was the moment I knew I had to do this Fringe show. “
Putting together is no mean feat and Kemp said although theirs nothing incredibly creative about playing another bands music, but how they put their own spin on it.
“What was creative was figuring out all the key changes, Kirsten and Angela have worked hard to learn their parts and sing in their own voices as Cobain was a very low register at times and then he could really belt it out with some aggression like in songs such as ‘Lounge Act’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, there are vocal moments in those songs that are incredibly expressive. The interesting thing about Nevermind, is the drumming is all in 16th’s, Dave Grohl plays powerfully through most of the album apart from ‘Polly’ (which is only cymbal hits – not his, but the bands previous drummer) and ‘Something in the Way’, a slow, eerie song which I’ve also enlisted an amazing local cello player Kara White to play on that song and she can make it sound just like the recording! My brother Drew and my other musical brother Dan have worked very hard recreating their guitar tunings to sound like Cobain’s and Pearl (bass) plays all those slinky Krist Noveselic bass-lines the record is renowned for, songs such as ‘In Bloom’, ‘Come As You Are’ and ‘On a Plain’, give me shivers when I hear what Pearl plays, I feel like I’m actually in Nirvana as weird as that sounds!
Apart from being the bands drummer, Kemp also sing on ‘Polly’ and ‘Something in the Way’, two very spooky songs with very strong lyrical content. “Buzz from Melvins said that Kurt didn’t ever live under a bridge in Aberdeen, but the song was a metaphor for when Kurt was handballed from home to home due to his behaviour. But, who knows, it’s all folk-lore now!”
So what can punters expect to see from Nevermind – The Singer
“Nirvana’s music is rock, Punk and power-pop! When you listen to previous recordings, Nirvana’s music was a lot heavier – Lot’s of early heavy rock and punk influences. With Nevermind, they went for a more polished, commercial approach and it fit well in the mainstream. Back in 1991, music lovers were over listening to the same thing on the radio as good as it was, Nirvana brought a more rebellious, inspired image to the masses and everyone just saw three ordinary looking musicians playing this powerful, emotive music. That was the connection. Not rocket science!”
Making up the band in Nirvana – Nevermind The Singer we have Dan Gaskin (vocals, guitar), Kirsten Glover (vocals), Angela Vee (vocals), Pearl Tizzie (Bass), Drew Kemp (guitar, vocals), Kara White(cello) and Sean Kemp on vocals and drums – or Sean Grohl if that’s more appropriate! The band members are familiar to each other which helps gel them
“Drew, Kirsten and I perform in an acoustic trio together where I sing and play guitar – But this is a first time working with Angela, Pearl, Dan and Kara. I’ve enjoyed every minute with these musicians, they are all unique and bring something very special to this band. We are only doing one show, I wish we had more but maybe in the future, see what happens. Drew and I also play in ‘Surviving Sharks’ with our other music brother Uncle Chop. A lot of fun, that band. We don’t perform much, it’s more about having a good time and playing some flat-out rock!”
Nevermind – The Singer is on one night only at the Crown and Anchor on February 23. Get your tickets now.