Dave Grohl Says Nirvana Tried Not To Make The Same Mistake As Sex Pistols
Dave Grohl recently had a conversation with Vulture and talked about the Sex Pistols’ feud with EMI in 1976. He stated that Nirvana tried not to make the same mistake with the Sex Pistols and didn’t spend the money they earned all at once, so their record company wouldn’t drop them.
Even though Sex Pistols only had a three-year career before disbanding, they were the most sensational band in 1975 and 1976. The band only released one album, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here are the Sex Pistols,’ but they were involved in feuds and disagreements with EMI, who dropped them before its release.
After the record company paid the band in advance to make a record, the band spent the money elsewhere. This caused mistrust, and EMI wasn’t a big fan of the Sex Pistols’ lyrics and thought they wouldn’t make it. It was surprising to see the Sex Pistols’ increasing popularity, but it was too late because the band signed with Virgin Records and gained fame.
When Nirvana was working on ‘Nevermind’ in the 1990s, they tried not to make the same mistake with the Pistols and didn’t spend the money they got paid irresponsibly. Grohl recalled that time and stated that they were so invested in the album that they would go home and stay hungry as they didn’t want to spend their advance on anything else.
Here is the story told by Grohl:
“I think the record company wanted us to be close so they could keep an eye on us. Because we were nobody. They were going to hand us this big check… which wasn’t that big. It was, I don’t know, $35,000. Whatever it was, they’re going to hand us all this money and fucking cross their fingers and hope they got a record. When we were being courted by all these record companies, they would fly up to Seattle or fly up to Tacoma, take us to Benihana, flash a credit card, tell us they’re going to give us a million dollars, and then we would go back to this shitty little apartment where we barely had any money to eat.
When a record company says, ‘We’ll give you a million dollars today,’ what do you do? You say no. That’s the poison apple. Or you take it and pull a rock-and-roll swindle. We were very familiar with the Sex Pistols story. The Sex Pistols signed a record deal with EMI in late 1976, and, just weeks later, guitarist Steve Jones declared in a profane, now-classic television interview that they’d already spent the advance. EMI bailed in early 1977, and the band signed to A&M, which tapped out just a few days later. Virgin Records, a third label, went on to release the band’s seminal — and only — studio album, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols,’ in the fall of 1977.
I think we did the right thing. We followed Sonic Youth’s path. Sonic Youth was one of the early bands to pioneer a national circuit for indie artists. The band signed to Geffen subsidiary DGC in 1989 when no one else on the scene was looking at any major labels, and they took lesser-known bands on tour. The documentary ‘1991: The Year Punk Broketells’ some of that story. We got Sonic Youth’s manager. We signed with the label they were on. They blazed the trail. They were the ones that made it safe for a band like us to get a record deal.”
Nirvana signed with DGC Records and released ‘Nevermind’ in 1991. It was the band’s second album of three in total and brought them worldwide fame, and initiated the popularisation of grunge. The album was named ‘culturally, historically or aesthetically significant’ and was added to the National Recording Registry in 2004 in this regard.