“In Utero is my favourite Nirvana album. It spans a much broader emotional range than their first two albums. It’s both raw and layered, complex and simple. It really shows off Kurt as a songwriter and displays just how technical Nirvana could be. There is freedom on that album, that punk aesthetic that I still find really exciting” – Justin Burford
Shaking off the casual listeners, Nirvana’s In Utero still remains a time-capsule after all these years. Indulging deep into the emotions of a tortured genius struggling with fame, In Utero was living proof Nirvana’s front man Kurt Cobain could still write impossibly beautiful songs that where determined, raw and heartfelt. It was the album that showed Nirvana didn’t ‘sell out’, but instead pulled them back to their underground punk-minded roots.
In fierce competition with Pearl Jam’s grunge popularity, Nirvana’s In Utero confirmed their acceptance into the scene even more, settling itself into the rightful place of one of 90’s best and truly memorable albums. Amen to that.
The Newport Hotel’s exclusive Record Club recognises some of Western Australia’s most beloved musicians and the albums that never left their turntables. The next chapter of season 3 pays tribute to Nirvana’s brilliantly inspiring In Utero with The Courtney Dunnits. You can read more about The Newport Record Club and Co-Founder Steve Parkin’s insight into the juicy details here.
Who are The Courtney Dunnits?
Specially formed to recreate Nirvana’s In Utero at The Newport Record Club, all the members of The Courtney Dunnits were members of local band End of Fashion – Justin Burford, Hugh Jennings and Mike Hobbs. “The name is obviously a bit tongue in cheek”, says Burford. “It came from a silly conversation I had with Hugh about what to call ourselves for this gig… I never used to believe in the whole Courtney killed Kurt conspiracy but recently I have looked at the evidence a lot more closely and it’s pretty compelling. There’s definitely more to the death of Kurt than we have known previously, a lot of things just don’t add up. I haven’t been too shy about voicing that opinion either – but that’s another story!”
“Hugh, Hobbs and myself did the Record Club last year for the album Nevermind. That record is fairly straight forward for a three piece but In Utero is a lot more intricate, especially for guitars”, explains Burford. “That’s why Nirvana brought on Pat Smear when they came to touring the record. So it was only natural for us to ask Rod (Rodney Aravena), long time guitarist for End of Fashion. He’s our Pat Smear. It’s actually really great playing with the old ‘Fash line up again”.
“I see the album In Utero as more of a follow on from Bleach than Nevermind because I think Kurt and Nirvana wanted to go back to a sound they felt represented them more closely. Musically, It Utero is more sophisticated – it’s kind of a thinking man’s punk record. Kurt was obviously growing as a song-smith as well; it feels more personal, more autobiographic and that’s why it’s my favourite. I’m working on my first original music project since End of Fashion and In Utero is one of my touchstone albums in terms of influence and inspiration”.
Why Nirvana are one of the Most Influential Bands Today
Nirvana never wanted to be one of the biggest, influential bands in the world, but things just sort of worked out that way. Today, both Kurt Cobain and Nirvana’s influence on musicians and fans alike is huge; from their song writing skills to the legacy left behind, their stripped back sound still rings loudly in the ears of many.
It was a sound that spoke to a generation, reached through the speakers and gripped the minds of millions making them feel understood, valued and worthwhile. Whilst previous 80’s bands seemed a little detached from reality, Nirvana’s 90’s grunge reestablished the feelings of a downcast generation, smashing through an alternative-rock music setlist that allowed people to reconnect with something that was real, intimate and relevant.
“Kurt came along at the right time in my life. I had grown up loving music and being exposed to bands like The Beatles, Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac and loads of others from a really young age. But those influences came from my parents. I remember the first time I head and saw this scruffy blonde kid singing this huge, powerful song on Video Hits and I suddenly felt like I belonged to something. I didn’t realise you could have such a deep, personal connection to music before Nirvana and I knew that was what I wanted to do….”
“Nirvana made kids feel like it was possible to start a band and just play. It didn’t matter how good or bad you were, it was just about expression. He dressed like us, he spoke like us, he felt far more accessible than bands like Guns and Roses and Poison. Most people eventually got over that teenage angst and that time in music, but I guess I never did. He was definitely my hero and he still kind of is. God, that sounds lame! But it’s true!”
The Courtney Dunnits at The Newport Record Club
“I remember Steve Parkin telling me about his idea to do these nights and I was excited right away. It’s a great opportunity for Perth musos to wear their influences on their sleeves without feeling like they’re playing in a dodgy cover band. It really shows off the range of influences we all have in our different musical backgrounds. And to be perfectly honest, I think it gives us and the audience a sort of fantasy wish fulfillment”.
The magic behind what The Newport Record Club has created really proves itself with bands like this, because many of us have never – and will never – see Nirvana play live. And whilst there’s nothing better than the real deal, you know you’re going to get more than just a ‘cover band’ with the Record Club. You’re getting a band that lives and breathes their influences’ sound and the music and albums they have created.
“Compared to our last Record Club show of Nevermind, the line up is both similar and different. It’s Hugh on bass, Hobbs on drums, myself on guitar and vocals like before but this time, we’ve brought in our old End of Fashion mate Rod to take the Pat Smear role. So there will be more guitar! It’s great because it frees me up for more focus on the singing. Also, even though we’re doing another Nirvana record, these two albums couldn’t be more different…”
“In Utero is more dangerous in a way, more dynamic and exciting than Nevermind. After we played Nevermind in the first season, it seemed like a natural choice to follow it up with In Utero. I’m just glad The Newport agreed and let us back. I really love playing that venue. We played it a number of times back in the ‘Fash days and getting to play Nirvana there is kind of a dream come true”.
The Courtney Dunnits will be performing Nirvana’s In Utero in all its entity Thursday 16th July at The Newport Record Club. For details and ticket information make sure you visit the event page here. The Newport Record Club have a total of 14 live shows for season 3 including the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Bob Marley, Queen, Jeff Buckley and oh much more… Get the full line up here and follow The Newport Record Club on Facebook for all the latest updates.
“This next show is going to rock”, assures Burford. “We are all big Nirvana fans and I think we take a lot of pride in delivering these songs with the essence and spirit that Nirvana had. If you never had the opportunity of seeing Nirvana live, we do our darnedest to give you the closest possible thing”.
“After we played Nevermind in the first season of the Record Club, as I was walking off stage this stranger came up and hugged me and said ‘I never got to see Nirvana play live…until tonight!’ What an amazing compliment. And that, in a nutshell, are why these shows are so great”.