Stay True to Yourself and Shut Out the Noise: In Utero
Apparently, the vultures don't take long to start circling when you're selling 300,000 albums a week. And after the unexpected success of Nevermind, which to date has sold nearly 30 million copies and ranks #17 on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Albums of All Time, Nirvana was now the cash cow apparent. They were no longer just a band, they were an asset. They had altered an entire generation overnight, and were now under immense pressure to capitalize on it. To create something even bigger, better, brighter. Surely the executives had their demands.
Fortunately, the band paired up with producer Steve Albini, a recording engineer renowned for staying true to the artist's purest sound. He encouraged Nirvana to take control of their artistic vision, and even refused to take a percentage of the royalties. All he asked was that the band isolate themselves in a studio...in the middle of Minnesota...in February. Just the three band members, Albini, and an assistant. No suits, no media, no distractions.
As bassist Krist Novoselic put it: "There was snow outside, we couldn't go anywhere. We just worked...we just played music. We worked together really well, we were laughing, we were concentrating, we were open. And that really shows on the record. We didn't mess around. Nobody got bombed, everybody was focused and clear-headed. I'm really proud of it. It's a beautiful record."
It would in fact be the last studio album Nirvana would ever record. And it's our favorite. Not just because it's rough around the edges, or that it has a charming happy accident or two. Or simply because the lyrics are raw, thoughtful and thematic, or for a thousand other reasons.
No, it's our favorite because it's Nirvana in their purest, most natural form.
Because sometimes, when you shut out all the noise?
You can focus on making it completely your own.