Butch Vig discusses recording Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way’, the hardest ‘Nevermind’ song “by far”

"You can’t get starker than that [song]. Kurt’s very much writing about himself"

Nevermind producer Butch Vig has discussed the hardest song to record “by far” on Nirvana‘s classic 1991 album.

Speaking to NME, Vig was quizzed on the song that reminds him most of recording with the Seattle trio. He picked the album’s closer ‘Something In The Way’, saying: “That was the hardest song to do by far on ‘Nevermind’. The other songs we tracked pretty quick – once we were set up, had the sounds and everything, they nailed everything in one or two, three takes tops.

“Then we go back and I get Kurt [Cobain] to overdub some guitars or double guitars or double some vocals and things. We tried doing ‘Something In The Way’ out in the studio and it just didn’t work, the drums were too big and loud. Kurt tried an electric guitar, he couldn’t play it on acoustic [at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California] because the room was just too loud.”


He added: “So out of frustration he came into the control room and started playing it on the couch. And I said, ‘Hold on, let’s just record it right here’. So I kicked everybody out of the control room, brought a mic in, turned the fans off and unplugged the phone and we recorded him on acoustic guitar there and then, and built the song from it.”

Nirvana. Credit: Press.

“We moved from the big studio into the small studio and I had to go back and overdub Krist [Novoselic] and Dave [Grohl], and that was hard because they were used to all play together and now they had to play to this real mellow acoustic [track]. We drove Dave real crazy because he’d start playing and immediately it would start getting louder, I’d go ‘You have to play it quiet!’ [but] Dave can’t help himself. He played it great every time but it was always getting louder and louder.

“After five or six takes he finally nailed one that had a really good dynamic to it. You can’t get starker than that [song]. Kurt’s very much writing about himself. He could be the guy under the bridge [in the lyrics]. The band was in great form [making ‘Nevermind’], they were excited to be down there and they practiced their asses off, they were ready for it.”

Vig then revealed that he was unaware at the time that the band “practised every day for four or five months, six months. They’d just gotten a credit card, and were staying in a condo with a swimming pool, they could drive down to Malibu and walk on the beach all night long. It was a heady time for them and they were playing great, they were all upbeat and it was a great record. We did it in 16 days, really fast.”


Vig also recently spoke to NME about the new album from his side project 5 Billion In Diamond, and what to expect from Garbage’s new album.

In the same interview, the producer said he doubts that the seminal ‘Nevermind’ would have the same impact if it was released today. “I think it would be tough to repeat that zeitgeist moment,” Vig said. “If ‘Nevermind’ came out this week, despite being a great record, it would not have the same cultural impact.

“It was perfect timing coming out when there was a shift in music and it felt like a revolution. I can see that happening again, but not in the same way.”