About Some Questions: Answers from Michael Azerrad

Aj Michael Review-1 After seeing Kurt Cobain About A Son, I congratulated Michael and let him know I was going to be writing a review of the film. He told me to let him know if I had any questions, so I emailed him a few. What was the motivating factor in bringing the tapes out? You touched on how you and AJ had dinner and basically decided to do it, but could you explain how it all happened?

The motivation for Kurt to cooperate with my book in the first place was that he figured that being candid was a lot better than all the speculation, untruths and distortions which had been told about him in the press. He wanted people to remember that he was a real person, with feelings and that there had been very awful consequences to some of the things that had been written about him and Courtney, i.e., losing custody of their child. Ten years after his death, Kurt had once again been dehumanized, turned into an icon instead of a person. So it was time to try to correct that.

How hands-on were you in making the film?

The biggest task I had was helping to choose the soundbites that comprise the film. Luckily, AJ and I chose almost identical passages, so there wasn’t too much haggling. l did manage to get him to use the bits about how flies loved to hassle Kurt and about how turtles are vulnerable. I also chose most of the artists and songs used in the soundtrack. And I just generally lobbied for sticking with the original approach we had devised; the movie turned out exactly as we’d envisioned it, only way better.

Going back to those tapes, which you hadn’t listened to for several years, had to be emotional. Hell, it was emotional for me to listen. Could you explain how the process made you feel? Did you hear anything new?

It wasn’t emotional in the sense of being upset. It was emotional in that it made me happy to remember the real Kurt, rather than his death and its aftermath. I didn’t hear anything new, since I’d personally transcribed those tapes and still recalled pretty much everything on them. One thing I did hear anew was the fact that Bruce Springsteen is playing in the background of a lot of the soundbites. Kurt wasn’t a Springsteen fan so I have no explanation for why that happened.

I wrote to a friend who’s also a big Nirvana fan that this film is important for people to see. I felt like it humanized Kurt more than anything I had ever seen or read before. Did you feel like it was important for people to see him in this light? Why?

Maybe if people see this movie, they’ll realize that their icons are actual people, who hurt and cry and laugh and play just like everybody else. It might help people have a healthier relationship with their celebrities, which I think is good for everybody involved. We can’t bring Kurt back, but maybe we can learn from our mistakes, so something like that doesn’t happen again.

What were you able to learn about yourself through your conversations with Kurt?

Kurt and Courtney considered me a stable, responsible person. I hadn’t ever really thought of myself like that. It was enlightening.

Brad Barrish @bradbarrish