If you were Frances Bean Cobain, you probably wouldn’t like Nirvana much, either. So before any diehard fans get up in arms about it, think about how the stuff your parents are affiliated with indelibly loses some of its crisp, shiny meaning, blunted by family ties. And, to her credit, Frances has mostly avoided talking about her dad in public at all — and we’re talking about a child who was raised in the shadow of a suicidal parent. That’s heavy burden to bear, let alone bear in public. That’s without even mentioning Courtney Love is her mom.
But in light of the recent documentary about her father, Kurt Cobain, Frances has opted to open up about some of the questions that have lingered for pretty much her entire life. (She’s been dealing with it since her first ever interview at age 13.) Frances was one of the executive producers for Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck and she spoke rather candidly to Rolling Stone about her relationship to her father and his legacy.
On her favorite Nirvana songs and a general disinterest in their music:
I don’t really like Nirvana that much grins. Sorry, promotional people, Universal. I’m more into Mercury Rev, Oasis, Brian Jonestown Massacre [laughs]. The grunge scene is not what I’m interested in. But “Territorial Pissings” (Nevermind) is a fucking great song. And “Dumb” (In Utero) — I cry every time I hear that song. It’s a stripped-down version of Kurt’s perception of himself — of himself on drugs, off drugs, feeling inadequate to be titled the voice of a generation.
But does she feel any guilt for not being more drawn to her dad’s music?
No. I would have felt more awkward if I’d been a fan. I was around 15 when I realized he was inescapable. Even if I was in a car and had the radio on, there’s my dad. He’s larger than life. and our culture is obsessed with dead musicians. We love to put them on a pedestal. If Kurt had just been another guy who abandoned his family in the most awful way possible… But he wasn’t. He inspired people to put him on a pedestal, to become St. Kurt. He became even bigger after he died than he was when he was alive. You don’t think it could have gotten any bigger. But it did.
Her ability to parse his larger-than-life status, personal abandonment, and our culture’s celebrity worship shows a sophistication and a wisdom that’s beyond a 22-year-old’s normal scope. And even if she was very young when Kurt died, they clearly share a lot of the same qualities. Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear notice the similarities most of all:
It’s very weird how genes are. Dave [Grohl], Krist [Novoselic] and Pat [Smear] came over to a house where I was living. It was the first time [the ex-Nirvana members] had been together in a long time. And they had what I call the ‘K. C. Jeebies,’ which is when they see me, they see Kurt. They look at me, and you can see they’re looking at a ghost. They were all getting the K. C. Jeebies hardcore. Dave said, ‘She is so much like Kurt.’ They were all talking amongst themselves, rehashing old stories I’d heard a million times. I was sitting in a chair, chain-smoking, looking down like this affects total boredom. And they went, ‘You are doing exactly what your father would have done.’ But I was glad they came over. [smiles] It was a cool experience, like having a Nirvana reunion minus one. Except for his spawn.
Now that the documentary is done, Frances is going to focus on her own art again:
I have this motivation and ambition that I didn’t have before: ‘I want to go paint this painting.’ The hardest part of doing anything creatively is just getting up and doing. Once I get out of bed and get into my art room, I start painting. I’m there. And I’m doing it.
In other news, Kurt got a brand new fan yesterday:
I finally get Nirvana
— Stephen malkmus (@dronecoma) April 7, 2015
[Photo via Frances’ Twitter.]