Twenty-six years ago this month, DGC Records was in the final stages of preparing the release of Nevermind, the major label debut from a scruffy trio headed up by Kurt Cobain. Expectations were modest. If the album sold 100,000 copies total, then everyone would consider it a success. But by November 1991, the album was selling at a clip of 300,000 a week on its way to #1.
The producer for that album was Butch Vig, of course. Here he is speaking with PSN Europe, which covers the world of professional audio.
“Nevermind was fast. We did that record in 16 days and probably four days alone were spent just getting Something In The Way in shape. That was a really hard song to do because everything was tracked individually. We tried to cut it live a few times but it didn’t work out. The rest of the songs, we did a sing a day pretty much. We’d just set up and play, and the band would usually get a take in two, three or four takes.
“Then I might do some editing or punch in some guitar if they missed a chord anywhere, I’d have Kurt double track his guitar in spots and then we’d do the vocals. They were not slackers. Before they came to record Nevermind after Dave Grohl joined the band they practiced every day for six months and they were tight as hell. They were ready and focused, and when I would suggest something arrangement wise just to tighten things up or make them a little more hooky they would try and cooperate, there were no problems.
“The only tricky part was dealing with Kurt’s mood swings. He would go down these black holes that would just pop out of thin air and affect him unexpectedly. He would close down and go into his own world for two or three hours until he’d snap out of it, come back in an go, OK, let’s play.