Nirvana Once Made Their Producer Prank Call Eddie Vedder And Gene Simmons

By Katrina Nattress

October 27, 2023

1992 MTV Video Music Awards - Rehearsals
Photo: FilmMagic, Inc

Those involved with the making of Nirvana's final album In Utero have been recalling their experiences in celebration of the album's 30th anniversary, and while there've been some interesting stories, the most entertaining one yet is the band's surviving members and producer Steve Albini reminiscing about prank calling KISS' Gene Simmons and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder.

During a visit to the Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend podcast Albini, along with Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, explained how they passed the time at Pachyderm Recording Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota by making prank calls because there was nothing else to do. "This was in February, in the dead of winter, in the middle of f***ing nowhere,” said Grohl. “So even just the walk from the house to the studio, which was what – 100 yards if that – you risk frostbite.”

First, they chatted about prank calling Simmons. “I pretended to be Kurt [Cobain] calling Gene Simmons," Albini recalled. "Gene Simmons had called their management because there was a KISS tribute album being put together, and Nirvana – the biggest band in the world – were friends with the Melvins, and Melvins did a KISS cover, and he assumed that Nirvana would want to do a KISS cover. Gene Simmons cannot fathom that anyone on earth is not a massive KISS fan.”

“So the word comes down that Gene Simmons is desperate to get Nirvana on this album and Kurt is like, I don’t want to talk to f***ing Gene Simmons, and I said, I’ll do it!” continued Albini, explaining that Cobain was sitting next to him the whole time. “So I called him back, and I pretended to be Kurt, and I parried the whole thing away by saying that I wasn’t making all the decisions because I had a reliability problem. And Kurt is sitting right next to me, listening to me doing an impression of him. [In Kurt Cobain voice] ‘Do you know The Wipers? I really love The Wipers’. And Gene Simmons comes back with, ‘I don’t know The Wipers. I know the Melvins. I love the Melvins!'”

The call to Vedder was just as good. For that, Albini pretended to be legendary producer Tony Visconti and told Vedder that he had heard the Pearl Jam album and was eager to get him solo in the studio “with a real band, guys who can really play.”

“I genuinely don’t remember the banter, but I do remember I thought he handled it pretty deftly," he said of the Pearl Jam frontman's response. "I think he acquitted himself well, talking on the phone to Tony Visconti, record producer, who wanted to fire his band.”

Grohl added: “At one point [Vedder] says, ‘Where are you?’ and you say, ‘I’m in Manitoba.’ And you say, ‘Do you know where that is?,’ and there’s this long pause and he goes, ‘No….'”

Oh to have been a fly on that wall! Watch the prank call segment below and listen to the whole podcast episode above.

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