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20 Musicians Discuss Nirvana's Nevermind

September 22, 2011  |  8:45am
20 Musicians Discuss Nirvana's <i>Nevermind</i>

Nirvana’s Nevermind turns 20 this week, and many have taken the opportunity to reflect on its importance and influence on rock over the past two decades. The seminal album marked alternative rock’s breakthrough to mainstream music audiences, as the Seattle grunge trio managed to connect to an entire generation of music fans.

To celebrate Nevermind’s 20th anniversary, we turned to 20 musicians to share stories about the impact that Nirvana had on them as well as the album’s lasting legacy.

1. Gregg Gillis
Girl Talk
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Photo: Dove Shore

What age did you first discover Nevermind?
10.

How did Nevermind impact your life?
Nevermind made me want to start making music. It also made me want to discover new music. Nirvana led to Sonic Youth, which led to the Boredoms, which led to Merzbow, which led to my friends and I starting to fool around on electronics and start our first bands. Nirvana is my favorite band.

2. Ian Saint Pe
The Black Lips
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What age did you first discover Nevermind?
I was Age 13 when Nevermind came out.

How did Nevermind impact your life?
It made me realize that I could play music. I never could relate to those Big Hair spandex wearing guys… except for the chicks.

3. Peter Silberman
The Antlers
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What age did you first discover Nevermind?
I started watching MTV about a month before Kurt Cobain died, I was 8 or 9 at the time. I had just begun buying CDs and Nevermind was my second. I listened to it every day and learned to play all the songs on guitar. Over the next year I accumulated somewhere around 5 gigantic Nirvana Shirts, the first being the Nevermind shirt.

How did Nevermind impact your life?
Nevermind was the first album I heard that I felt a personal connection with, the first music where I realized that was even possible (and important) in music. Nevermind pointed me in that direction for the future of every album I would eventually feel attached to.

4. Nicole Atkins
Nicole Atkins & the Black Sea
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What age did you first discover Nevermind?
I think I was 12. I remember finding a cassette single of it at Sam Goody and thinking how cool it was that the tape was white plastic instead of black. I remember bringing it to a birthday party and it completely changed the mood of everything.

How did Nevermind impact your life?
Nirvana taught me as a songwriter how to write a pop song but mix it with heavy noise and emotion. I also have a term i call “anti-cobain,” when referring to souless acts the music industry tries to push upon me and my musical friends.

5. Tiffany Lamson
GIVERS
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What age did you first discover Nevermind?
In freshman year of high school so I guess around 14.

How did Nevermind impact your life?
I remember being infatuated with them: Dave’s drumming, Kurt’s lyrics… It was all a haze of obsessive emotions. I thought—these guys are fearless. I want to have that kind of empowerment.

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