In 1990, Nirvana was just another grunge band in Seattle who had some problems to sort through. They had experienced a fair amount of underground success with their debut LP Bleach, but their distribution was hampered by the financial limitations of their record label, Sub Pop. Additionally, the band had recently parted ways with its most stable drummer yet, Chad Channing, due to disagreements regarding songwriting and contributions to music.
The band were set to embark on their first European tour dates scheduled for the last week of October, and the band’s stand-in drummer Dale Crover had to return to his day job in the Melvins. Around the same time, Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne was approached by Scream drummer Dave Grohl looking for advice. Scream had recently broken up, and Osborne gave Grohl’s number to Kurt Cobain. Grohl had been in the band for less than a month when they departed for Europe.
The home videos filmed by Krist Novoselic provide a window into the transition that came with integrating Grohl into the band, as we all providing a fascinating portrait into the band’s dynamic right before they hit it big. Grohl is goofy and amicable but somewhat hesitant to assert himself, as should be expected from someone who just met his new bandmates and probably doesn’t want to make a bad impression.
Some of the footage is a little, shall we say, of its time. Grohl’s obviously tongue-in-cheek story about a “retarded kid named Mikey” who lived down the block from his childhood home is likely something he would cringe out now. But as a whole, the footage is incredibly exciting, even if the band don’t do much at all. They go to a cafe, yell at cars to drive the correct way, and generally make self-aware idiots of themselves playing the part of ignorant Americans in a foreign land.
The best part of the cobbled-together video is the ending with the band performing at Leeds Polytechnic and Trent Polytechnic. L7 members Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner make appearances, and the band perform a number of pummeling tracks from Bleach. But the real treat is in the video’s final ten seconds, where a snippet of a new Nirvana song, Lithium’ is shown.
Check out the footage down below.