Who: Krist Novoselic
Where: EMP's JBL Theatre
When: Friday, June 27
"What do you feel like talking about tonight?" said EMP curator Jacob McMurray.
"Oh...music," responded the star of the evening, Krist Novoselic.
Given that Novoselic was the bassist for one of the most successful rock bands of all time, his response raised a chuckle from several in the audience. But as we learned throughout the course of the hour-plus interview session, he could have talked about any number of things. As those of you who read his work for Seattle Weekly are aware, Novoselic is a huge proponent of election reform. But you may not know he's also well-versed in other areas such as potato farming, socialism, and fixing old Volkswagens.
But he kicked off the evening by reaching deep into his past, recalling the first time he heard rock n' roll. Krist-the son of Croatian immigrants-was born in Compton, California and raised in San Pedro. His dad worked for a tuna factory and his mother was a hairdresser. His dad was listening to older rock music such as Dick Dale while he fixed VWs, and by the time the family moved to Aberdeen, Washington in 1979, Krist was into heavier stuff like Sabbath, Zeppelin. Most kids in Aberdeen, he said, were into Kenny Rogers.He recounted his musical evolution, from buying old hard rock records at Dill's Second Hand Store in Aberdeen (where, he said, Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening completed his Johnny Cash collection) to making fuzzy tape recordings of KZOK's Sunday night program Your Mother Won't Like It to eventually meeting Southwest Washington's punk evangelical Buzz Osborne (whose punk column Novoselic once read in Montesano's high school newspaper).
Novoselic's stories were rich in detail and awesome little divergences. He recalled traveling to record at Reciprocal on Leary Way with Jack Endino, and that they drove a 60s Chevy truck with a camper attachment and a woodstove installed in the back (dude, how Northwest is that, eh!?!?) He also mentioned that apparently there is a photo of Tad Doyle from his days in the Idaho college jazz band, shaking hands with Richard Nixon (Note to Mr. Doyle: Please dig that out so we can print it!!!) On the subject of Nirvana, Novoselic stressed that the common misconception was that they (Kurt, especially) were a dark, moody group, when in fact they all had a wildly goofy sense of humor and had a lot of fun while they were in the band. And it was hard not to feel the air in the room get heavy when he mentioned how, after Kurt died, he realized he no longer had to keep an eye out for left-handed guitars in pawn shop windows.
Ultimately, the interview was proof that Novoselic has led a richer life than some might imagine. His post-Nirvana life has seen him getting involved in numerous groups on the county, state, and national level. He's been an outspoken and active proponent of Rank Choice Voting. He's dug deep into Washington State's history, discovering the socialist undercurrent running through such things as our public timber lands. And he's currently touring and mixing a record with his old punk heroes Flipper. The success of Nirvana did, of course, afford Novoselic some more opportunities than most, as he noted. But the enthusiasm and overall zest for life he exuded during his Oral History suggested he probably would have been a multi-faceted, self-starter kind of guy no matter what. And though it's a total cliche for me to say, he seems like the kind of guy you really would like to have a few beers with!