Nirvana Used A Kurt Cobain Impression To Prank Gene Simmons, Steve Albini Explains

In a recent interview marking the 30th anniversary of Nirvana’s ‘In Utero,’ Steve Albini, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic shared their memories of the band with Conan O’Brien. Albini recalled a prank he pulled on Gene Simmons a few years before the album’s release by saying:

“I pretended to be Kurt [Cobain], calling Gene Simmons back. He had called their management because there was a KISS tribute album being put together, and Nirvana, the biggest band in the world, were friends with the Melvins and the Melvins did a KISS cover, and he assumed that Nirvana would wanna do a KISS cover to be on [it]. Gene Simmons cannot fathom that anyone on earth is not a massive KISS fan.”

Detailing the call, the producer went on:

“So, the word comes down that Gene Simmons is desperate to get Nirvana on this album, and the appeal comes from management, directed through management. Like, ‘We got this call from Gene Simmons. He’s really hot to have you guys on this album. Do you wanna call him back?’ Kurt is like, ‘I don’t wanna talk to f**king Gene Simmons.’ I said, ‘I’ll do it!’ So, I called him back, and I pretended to be Kurt, and I parried the whole thing away by saying that I wasn’t making all the decisions because I had a reliability problem. And Kurt is sitting right next to me, listening to me doing an impression of him.”

In the end, Nirvana did record a KISS song for 1990’s ‘Hard To Believe: A KISS Covers Compilation.’ When Grohl pointed that out, Novoselic commented:

“Oh, God! It was a disaster. [We recorded] ‘Do You Love Me?’ We were drunk.”

A year after its involvement in the KISS tribute, Nirvana released its second studio album, ‘Nevermind.’ Later, its lead single, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ reached the top ten on the US Billboard Hot 100.

In 2014, the surviving members performed ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. That same year also saw KISS’ induction to the Hall, although the band didn’t give out a performance.