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"NIRVANA SET HAS SMELL OF SUCCESS" by craig rosen
first featured in billboard, september 1993
"teenage angst has paid off well / now i'm bored and old" sings kurt cobain on "serve the servants" the opening track of nirvana's new album, in utero.
With 1991's nevermind having sold more than 4.6 million copies in the US, DGC is cautiously optimistic that in utero, due Tuesday[9/93] also will pay off. Yet the label is taking a low-key approach to marketing the album in an effort to avoid hype.
Robert smith, head of marketing for geffen/DGC says, "we want this record to be discovered in the same way that nevermind was - through the music and how powerful the band is."
In order to do that, smith says the label "will set things up, duck, and get out of the way."
DGC set up in utero with a street campaign that included pre-release snipes with the album's name posted in major cities such as new york, boston, detroit and los angeles. In addition, the label distributed stickers of the cover art - a rendering of the transparent "visible woman" model, with angel's wings - at the new music seminar in july, and at various alternative retail outlets across the country.
In keeping with the alternative market, they will also release the album on vinyl. The label has been advertising in utero with an eye towards the alternative audience.
While nirvana undoubtedly will be supported whole-heartedly by alternative accounts, even the chain markets are gearing up for it's release.
The track 'heart-shaped box' was serviced to alternative radio in early september, although there currently are no plans for a commercial single release. The song entered the charts at number four this week and already is generating a significant buzz.
Nirvana is, of course, one of the more controversial acts to top the billboard 200 in recent years, and in keeping with the band's past, controversy erupted over in utero months before it's release.
In utero was recorded and mixed in about 12 days, in a studio in the woods, ten miles from minneapolis.
While some of in utero is closer in spirit to the band's 1988 debut, bleach, the album isn't a drastic departure from nevermind. A few songs feature cello. "it's not too left-wing," novoselic says. "it's pretty much straightforward. It's not like some experimental grunge record."
Lyrically, in utero sees nirvana grappling with the pains that accompanied it's sudden success, including cobain's stomach problems. Those struggles occasionally are couched in childbirth imagery. [cobain and his wife courtney love had a baby girl last year.]
Novoselic says success has it's ups and downs. "right now it's on an upswing. The downs are when your private life is invaded."
Nirvana were in in los angeles recently to shoot the 'heart-shaped box' video with anton crbijn, and to collect a trophy for the best alternative video at mtv's video music awards. But novoselic is tired of it all. "the whole things sucks," he says. "the mtv awards and all the schmoozing, and all the people who are just in this to be popular and make money, they don't want to express themselves, they're just out for an alterior motive."
In october, the band will embark on another tour. Joining them will be guitarist pat smear. "he's got a lot of spirit and that rubs off on the band," says novoselic. A cellist, lori goldstein, will also perform live on a few tracks.
"we will probably do a quiet part of the show," he adds, "where we dim the lights, break out the candelabras and have special appearances by james taylor and art garfunkel."
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