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© Bruce Pavitt
I do recall an interview with Kim Thayil at the time. He was calling into question bands that wore cowboy boots and went to strip clubs.
[Laughs] “Yeah, exactly. And as an aside here, I would say that when Soundgarden came on the scene here, Chris Cornell had such a pitch-perfect voice and was such a classic rock star out of the box, so some people in the underground culture felt a little uncomfortable with the band. They were almost too polished. But I think Thayil’s guitar playing, which was influenced more by bands like Scratch Acid and Butthole Surfers, provided a nice balance.”
You and Jonathan signed Nirvana for 600 bucks and a promise. What was the general plan? Was there one?
[Laughs] “I would have to say, personally, my whole attitude was ‘Let’s put out some cool records by our friends.’ My background was as an indie music advocate – I had a radio show, a Sub Pop fanzine and column. I was all about supporting local scenes. We would occasionally joke about world domination because it was such a ridiculous concept. I think that Jon had grander business designs, and that’s one of the reasons why Sub Pop flourished, because he and I saw things differently. We tended to complement each other.
“With Nirvana, we put out a single that came out well, so we said, ‘Let’s put out an album.’ Then it was ‘Geez, this is really moving.’ As an indie label, you’re riding by the seat of your pants. You want to put out cool records, but you’re also getting a feel for what people are interested in. As the feedback comes in, you’re certainly motivated to raise the capital for the next record. By the time that Bleach had been out for a few months, we were dead set on putting out as much Nirvana material as possible. We did put out a couple more singles, and we were slated to put out what became Nevermind, but that was not to happen, probably best for the band and, in some ways, probably best for us, too.”