Butch Vig: ‘Kurt Cobain was a pain in the ass during ‘Nevermind’ sessions’

'Nevermind' producer reveals all ahead of album's 20th anniversary

Butch Vig has revealed Kurt Cobain‘s perfectionism was “kind of a pain in the ass” during the ‘Nevermind’ recording sessions.

Vig produced Nirvana‘s landmark album, which is 20 years old next month, and says Cobain couldn’t help meddling while he was setting up the band’s equipment in the studio. He said:

I’d be balancing the drums and the guitar and Kurt would come and say ‘Turn all the treble off. I want it to sound more like Black Sabbath.’ It was kind of a pain in the ass.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Vig also said Cobain’s sudden changes in mood were problematic.

Kurt was charming and witty, but he would go through these mood swings. He would be totally engaged, then all of a sudden a light switch would go off and he’d go sit in the corner and completely disappear into himself. I didn’t really know how to deal with that.


Nirvana began sessions for ‘Nevermind’ at Vig’s Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1990. Previously unheard takes from those sessions will appear in a forthcoming boxset to mark 20 years since the record’s release.

The five-disc set was compiled by bassist Krist Novoselic, drummer Dave Grohl, who joined the band after the initial demos were recorded, Vig and Nirvana’s management, and will also include a remastered version of ‘Nevermind’, B-sides, alternate mixes and an entire live show.

Elsewhere in the interview, Vig recounts how Cobain, Novoselic and then-drummer Chad Channing arrived at his studio after driving 1,900 miles from Seattle without taking a break.

They rolled up in a van and they probably hadn’t taken a bath or shower in three or four days.

The producer, who later drummed in his band Garbage, also added that he, Grohl and Novoselic sat around reminiscing after sessions for Foo Fighters‘ latest album ‘Wasting Light’ were completed.

We started pulling stories out of each other. It was a special night.