No, this post is not about ignoring something I said earlier, but it is in fact a short reflection on Nirvana’s seminal album Nevermind. My monthly Spin focused on the record in the recent issue and it is chalk full short snippets by people in the know reflecting on what it meant to them. Hindsight is always 20/20 and when asked your opinion on such things it seems obvious that you recognized greatness when it hit you in the face. I did not have the same realization that this music would change the world, but I can honestly say it is because I was too busy being changed by it.
I first heard Smells Like Teen Spirit at a skatepark in the valley (in California, not the great state of Texas). This was actually my first trip to a skate park, so the stage was definitely set for something amazing to happen in a young kid without an older sibling interested in punk. I skated most of the day and in the afternoon the intro riff started and immediately I felt like it was my turn in the skate movie.
The reality is I probably dropped into some mini ramp and got hung up on the coping due to a lack of turning knowledge. Yet, I can honestly say that after hearing it, I was changed. It was probably the first time I heard heavy music that wasn’t metal or industrial or some other extremely stylized music (aka Hair bands).
I was hooked. A friend of mine bought the record and I copied it. His dad was concerned it was too negative but we were able to persuade him that our interest lied in the music more than the lyrics, which was more or less true. I listened to that record like crazy and eventually everyone I knew also became hooked.
After finding Nirvana, I still wanted more music. Probably one of my favorites songs was Territorial Pissings because it was fast. Looking back at it now that I’ve played music for quite a while it is safe to say that it was the punk back beat that got me riled up. Soon after Nirvana, I hear Fugazi and that was it. I loved `13 Songs`_ and played it every second of the day, with my only complaint being I wished it was faster. Minor Threat happened to me and that was it. I loved hardcore punk and Nirvana was a sellout.
As my tastes evolved and I was exposed to more music like pop punk, emo (not the guy liner emo, but the Rites of Spring and midwest / Jade Tree / Polyvinyl / Crank Records emo), hardcore and the wealth of other “core” sub-genres (grindcore for example, thank you Lauren, Chris, Bob and 12 Blades). Eventually, I got somewhat bored with the general scope of bands that I listened to and to an extent the music I was playing. After the band I was in broke up, I didn’t really do much with music for a bit. I still listened, but there wasn’t a lot of purpose as there was before.
Fortunately, Lauren mentioned that we should start playing again and that is when Ume started. It began by going to some shows and playing in a garage. One thing that happened though was that I started finding new bands. I was introduced to No Wave and had been listening to Sonic Youth with new ears. We watched the `1991: The Year Punk Broke`_ and `Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!`_ (more than once!) and I recognized that my youth had hidden the fact that Nirvana were most definitely punk. While Nevermind wasn’t my album of choice (I had to make up for lost time with *In Utero*), Nirvana became an icon. The 20/20 vision of the hindsight made me realize my musical mistakes as a kid. I’m just happy that I came back around as it helped me to enjoy a whole new set of bands bubbling up in Houston. Even though most broke up (Handdriver 9 1/2, The Kants, Drillbox Ignition), it was cool be a part of a scene that (I think at least) was inspired to be punk like Nirvana.