In this influences infographic we have one of the most determining bands of the nineties: Nirvana. A brief summary of the artists related to these grunge heroes:
Which bands and artists that influenced Nirvana?
Nirvana’s immediate influences go back to the alternative scene of the late 1980s. The first band we will mention from that strain will be Sonic Youth: they were friends, they helped Kurt Cobain and his band get their record deal and took them on tour. Also, it was bassist Krist Novoselic’s wish to sound like Kim Gordon’s, Thurston Moore & Co.
The other pioneering alternative band from that era is The Pixies. Kurt Cobain admitted that when he wrote Smells Like Teen Spirit he was trying to steal from them. As an additional fact, producer Steve Albini, responsible for recording Surfer Rosa from The Pixies (and album Cobain really liked) in 1988, was recruited by Nirvana for In Utero.
Specifically, the idea of Albini producing Nirvana’s third album came from P. J. Harvey´s Rid of Me (1993). The producer sent the record to Kurt as a “how could they sound” proposal. With that raw drum sound, the “roomy” vibe of Surfer Rosa and Polly Jean’s album forged the aesthetic imprint of that latest Nirvana studio album.
We could go on for hours, but here I will refer to two mentioned artists that Kurt Cobain listed on his favorite albums, as published by Kerrang:
The first mention will be Raw Power, that fundamental album from 1973 for punk. Iggy and The Stooges did not have immediate success with this work, but their influences run to this day.
And inside the quietest: Mazzy Star. Hope Sandoval and David Roback’s debut She Hangs Brightly is also on Kurt’s favorite album list. The rest, keep listening to the list!
Musicians inspired by Nirvana
I’ll start with the obvious: Bush. The British band led by Gavin Rossdale was compared countless times with that of Kurt Cobain. There was even a well-known article in Rolling Stone magazine titled “NirvanaWannabes” as a complaint. The fact that they called in producer (oh!) Steve Albini to work on his second album, Razorblade Suitcase (1996) didn’t help.
Silverchair is another band that falls within the “imitators” of Nirvana, but I will not dwell on them, but it is worth remembering them.
One band that had great influences from Nirvana is Weezer. Its leader Rivers Cuomo made an “Encyclopedia of Pop” where he studied the composing, structures and melodies of various artists, but extensively dedicated it to the Seattle band.
The late Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington mentioned Nirvana as one of the bands that motivated him to make music. Recalling a joint show by Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the band at hand here, he explained, “Nirvana helped me shape my point of view on music.”
The last (and most contemporary) example we’ll take: Billie Eilish was compared by David Grohl to Nirvana. Amid all the fuss over whether the comparison was excessive, pertinent or totally wrong, the leader of the Foo Fighters had to come out to explain his sayings. Beyond that, Billie has admitted that she grew up listening to bands like Nirvana, which she admires.