Krist Novoselic Talks Nirvana Backing Beck, New Projects
“It’s always fun to play with Dave and Pat,” Krist Novoselic tells Rolling Stone of his former Nirvana bandmates. “We had ‘Sirvana’ with Paul McCartney. And then we had ‘Hervana’ at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – that was great, wasn’t it? And then Dave [Grohl], Pat [Smear] and I did a David Bowie tribute with Beck at this Grammy party.”
The bassist says the performance, which found them playing Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” – as they did on MTV Unplugged in New York in 1993 – at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party in mid-February, was moving. It was also an opportunity for him to connect with an artist he’s admired for decades. “I never played with Beck before, so I got to hang out with him and get to know him a little bit,” he says. “I’ve been a huge fan of his forever, ever since ‘Loser.’ When we got together and played, Dave and Pat and I just tipped it right up, and Beck, he’s great. It all just came together.”
Although reunions of Nirvana’s members have been frequent in recent years, beginning with Grohl corralling his former bandmates and McCartney to record “Cut Me Some Slack” for the Sound City: Real to Reel soundtrack, Novoselic isn’t sure when they might do it again. “These things come up,” he says. “It’s always fun. We’ll see if there’s anything in the future. I don’t know. I haven’t heard of anything.”
In the meantime, Novoselic is keeping busy with politics – working with the organizations FairVote and 3 American Questions – and playing some music again, too.
The former Nirvana bassist has been playing finger-style guitar of late with his friend Dr. Robert Michael Pyle, who holds a Ph.D in ecology and environmental studies, as a duo with the moniker Butterfly Launches From Star Pole. So far they’ve played gigs in Astoria, Oregon and Gunnison, Colorado. They’ve also been recording with engineer Jack Endino, who recorded Nirvana’s Bleach, and plan on going back into the studio in May.
“It’s coming together,” Novoselic says. “It’s really different. It’s not rock, or is it folk? I don’t know what it is. It’s literature.
“I’m really into John Fahey, so I try to be like him by playing finger-style guitar,” he explains. “So I do that and then he’s an author – he’s written some things about Glacial Lake Missoula or tsunamis and things like that – and he [reads poetry]. … It’s a musical project about science, basically nature, and geology and animals. Bob Pyle is also an expert in bigfoot lore … he’s said that he’s found tracks.”
Novoselic has also returned to the bass with another group he’s formed with “folks in my local community here in the hills” in southwest Washington State. “It’s kind of rock, kind of cool,” he says. “We’ll see what happens. Our goal is to play a gig this summer. I guess it’s pop, pop-rock meets pop. There’s a song about a Sasquatch, so it’s about experience here in the Willapa Hills.”
Despite his foray back into rock, Novoselic – who also frequently plays accordion – says he rarely plays bass. “I play bass with a band,” he says. “I don’t really play bass by myself.” Nevertheless, he’s been enjoying playing a Guild acoustic bass, which he’s been using in his untitled project.
Asked to break down which instruments he plays in what proportion to the others, he says, “I think I play 35 – 40 percent accordion and maybe 65 percent finger-style guitar. And then bass with the band.”
Ultimately, he’s happy with his new musical endeavors. “They’re just kind of fun projects,” he says. “All bands should be fun projects.”
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