Why Kurt Cobain Thought Nirvana Album Sounded Like Mötley Crüe, His Ex-Manager Explains


Former Kurt Cobain manager Danny Goldberg recently appeared on the Whatever, Nevermind Podcast and revealed the reason why Cobain said ‘Nevermind’ sounded like a Mötley Crüe album by sharing exclusive details about the album production process.

As you may know, Nirvana released its second studio album entitled ‘Nevermind’ on September 24, 1991. The album was described as a great change in the band’s style which was very different from their debut album, ‘Bleach.’ ‘Nevermind’ became one of the most popular and commercially successful albums of all time so Nirvana started to become a worldwide known band by hitting Seattle grunge scene.

However, unlike most of the fans and music critics, Kurt Cobain gave controversial statements about the album including the album’s similarity to a Mötley Crüe record, and complained about its production process in his previous interviews. His ex-manager Danny Goldberg explained the reason behind Cobain’s words saying that it was about Cobain’s relationship with the punk sub-culture and being in need of connecting with them more.

Furthermore, Goldberg highlighted that the late Nirvana frontman was always against producing mainstream works just to gain more money and fame. According to the manager, Cobain was in charge of every part of ‘Nevermind’ from composing to producing. Thus, he stated that there wasn’t anything wrong with the album by adding that Cobain had a problem with mainstream success and popularity of ‘Nevermind.’

The interview talked about Kurt Cobain saying:

“On ‘Nevermind,’ Kurt would complain about the production eventually, he said it sounded like a Motley Crue record, which I don’t necessarily agree with.”

Danny Goldberg responded:

I think that he had a balance of his relationship with the punk subculture, which had inspired him enormously in his teenage years. He recognized the outsiderness of it, the need for integrity, the emotions of that audience.

Even though they were only a small percentage of the total audience of Nirvana, they were the original audience, and he always wanted to stay true to that part of himself.

So after ‘Nevermind’ was incredibly successful, he would sometimes say shit like that in interviews to try to recognize the difference between the pure punk fans, and this mass rock audience that also liked Nirvana.

He completely controlled the sound of that record. It’s not like anyone imposed anything on him. He controlled how much echo or no echo was on the mic, he controlled the mixes, he controlled the mastering…

He physically went to the mastering of the record, he had to approve of everything, he had the final say of anything, and he then wanted a remixer, he approved the remixes, he picked the guy. It was his record.”

He went on:

“However the success of it turned it into another thing. It was separate from the work of art, it became this mass cultural statement, and he emphasized with the punk fans who felt that the sheer success of it.

It’s just weird when the people that used to kick your ass in high school are now part of your audience.

He said some things like that about the production, but I really don’t think that he really believed there was anything wrong with the production of it. It was his record.

He just understood the emotions of the punk audience in the wake of punk becoming this commercial medium and suddenly where do they go for their individual identity.”

Consequently, it can be said that Danny Goldberg revealed that the problem in Nirvana’s second studio album was its turning into a ‘mass cultural statement.’ So, that’s why Cobain kept complaining about ‘Nevermind’ in his interviews.