photo & text by nacrowe
created as a stopgap between NEVERMIND (DGC, 1991) and IN UTERO (DGC, 1993), NIRVANA's release of the INCESTICIDE (DGC, 1992) compilation included COVERS, B-SIDES, DEMOS, OUTTAKES and BROADCAST RECORDINGS for radio stations. there are some real gems on this record including originals like "ANEURYSM," "SLIVER," "DIVE," "BEEN A SON" and "STAIN." in particular the track "ANEURYSM" became a concert staple and crowd favorite after this release.
one of the cool things about all the members of NIRVANA was their capacity to utilize their immense platform to promote bands they liked in television interviews and in the press. beneficiaries of such praise included seminal INDIE ROCK veterans like THE RAINCOATS, DINOSAUR JR, THE VASELINES, SONIC YOUTH and DANIEL JOHNSTON as well as peer acts like KYUSS, BIKINI KILL, SOUNDGARDEN, THE MEAT PUPPETS, HOLE, THE BOREDOMS, THE MELVINS and THE BEAT HAPPENING. there are three covers on INCESTICIDE that include "TURNAROUND" (DEVO), "MOLLY'S LIPS" and "SON OF A GUN" (THE VASELINES). when considered alongside the eclectic covers from MTV UNPLUGGED IN NEW YORK (DGC, 1994), including that of DAVID BOWIE, LEADBELLY and THE MEAT PUPPETS, it just showcases a depth and range of appreciation for music that spans several genres including INDIE ROCK, GLAM ROCK, DELTA BLUES, COUNTRY and NEW WAVE among others.
but i think the biggest takeaway from INCESTICIDE is not the music per se. in the liner notes KURT COBAIN made it explicit where he stood with his emerging fanbase, a portion of whom he felt didnt share his values of gender, sexual and racial inclusivity. famously he concluded the liner notes with "if any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us — leave us the fuck alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.” when you consider that this record came directly after the generational cultural phenomenon that was NEVERMIND, it is pretty PUNK ROCK that COBAIN took such a stand to challenge his audience at what was his commercial peak. in the liner notes of IN UTERO he went even further to forewarn that "If you’re a sexist, racist, homophobe or basically an asshole, don’t buy this CD. I don’t care if you like me, I hate you.”
in the years since i've met many people globally who were influenced and appreciated the music of NIRVANA. they were a global phenomenon. but it is this social aspect of their band that gets lost in translation quite a bit. and ive had a hard time swallowing the fact that we've worked with some artists that adore (and copy) COBAIN yet are raging homophobes and misogynists themselves. there is a bigger debate out there of whether or not you can separate an artist's music from their individual actions. i have a hard time with that one, in fact a very early DEER GOD RADIO show (EPISODE #2) is about that very topic: its entitled GOOD MUSIC BY BAD PEOPLE.
i just feel that for my interpretive conception of COBAIN and his career, INCESTICIDE marks that turning point where he was aware of his cultural sway and started utilizing it to promote causes he believed in and celebrate communities that were marginalized during his era. and he should be remembered and commended for such efforts. such are part of his true cultural legacy.