Bleach was recorded during two different sessions. The first was a demo done in early 1988 with drummer Dale Crover, now best known as a member of the Melvins. Later, Krist and Kurt hired Chad Channing and went back into the studio in late ’88 and early 1989. In the end, they included a couple of tracks from the Crover demo on the finished record.
Channing I remember we were driving to Aberdeen to rehearse. We’d meet in Olympia and go down. There was nowhere else to rehearse, and wasn’t it your mom’s house?
Novoselic An apartment above a beauty salon. We waited for the businesses to close and we’d make a racket, but downtown was empty so we could be loud. Somebody brought a video camera over, and that’s what you see in the [With the] Lights Out box set.
CC Working on “About a Girl,” the song didn’t have a title by that time, so I asked Kurt, “What is that song about?” He said “About a girl.” I said “Why don’t you just call it that?” So he made this quirky smile and said “OK!”
CC When we set up in the studio in Seattle, the idea was to detune everything. The drum heads were really loose, and it was kind of hard to play because you didn’t get that snap-back. Jack Endino taped a coin to the kick-drum head so it would have a brighter tone.
KN Oh yeah, and we tuned the guitars down to D for that heavy sound.
CC But wasn’t “Blew” tuned down a step on top of that?
KN YES! It’s, like, in C or something. We recorded a bunch of tunes in that setup—like on the first day of recording. We came back the next day and decided the idea wasn’t so hot, and we recorded over most of it with things tuned back up a little. In fact, “Blew,” with that growly bass, is the only survivor of that experiment.
CC We had to save money. If it was digital, it would have been preserved. We were recording on 8-track, half-inch tape. Even having “Blew” survive is amazing. Why didn’t all the loose strings just flop around?
KN To save money, we didn’t screw around. I thought we had a good work ethic.
CC Oh, no, maybe a break to run to the store, or maybe a snack request from Jack.
KN Yes, Jack was into snacks. It seemed like it would take him 20 minutes to eat a single potato chip. He’d look at it, talk to you, look at it some more, examine it, and after an hour he’d eat it!…I think one of the best songs you and I worked together on was “Big Cheese.” Kurt came up with that two-note riff for the verses. You and I took off for that instrumental bridge. I went up high on the neck of the bass, and you did that great double kick!
CC That’s one of my favorite songs. You know why it really worked for me? My friends and I would play our 45s on 33 rpm. It would sound deeper and heavier at that speed.
KN Doom Pop!
CC I had a single of “Back in Black” by AC/DC, and it rocked the 33-rpm test. Most songs don’t…I like “Swap Meet” a lot. That’s one of those songs where we needed to get the last bits tidy up to recording.
KN The song has good drums on the riff after the chorus—”Close to his heart!” And you take off!
CC It’s a crazed marching drummer who decided to run away from the parade.
KN My favorite song on the record is “Blew,” probably, because it has a groove, and again, it’s the sole survivor of the Doom Pop experiment.
CC Gotta have a special bit of love for that tune. It’s a survivor! On “Scoff,” I would do my double kick pedal with that rhythm between the floor tom. Then the guitars come in with the same rhythm.
KN “Give me back my alcohol!” Anything in closing? This is a special interview for me personally. And I think that many fans will want to read this, because after all these years it’s never been done before.
CC All in all, despite the difficulties laying down the drums because of the way they were set up, we’d listen back and I remember the smiles. It was the first time I was in the studio to do a record. That was cool. It was amazing to hold an LP vinyl in your hands. I’ve had records my whole life, and now here was one that I was on!