Out of all the people to debate the relevancy of Nirvana in the modern day, perhaps nobody’s as fit to do so as Garbage drummer Butch Vig. He produced the band’s breakout album, Nevermind, back in 1991, but even he doubts the grunge icons would have the similar type of “cultural impact” today.
“I think it would be tough to repeat that zeitgeist moment,” Vig told NME. “If Nevermind came out this week, despite being a great record, it would not have the same cultural impact. It was perfect timing coming out when there was a shift in music and it felt like a revolution. I can see that happening again, but not in the same way.”
Vig’s opinion isn’t meant as a slight to Nirvana, of course. If anything, it’s a comment on how much the industry has changed since then. Which is why he’s so impressed with Billie Eilish — echoing a statement made by drummer Dave Grohl himself.
“I saw something similar with Billie Eilish,” said Vig. “I’m friends with her and [brother, producer] Finneas and their mom was my daughter’s music teacher. They live down the street from us. Billie speaks for a whole generation of youth, much like Nirvana did with their zeitgeist moment.”
“Everything is so instant that it’s hard to build up some mystique,” Vig continued. “When you really want something but can’t quite get your hands on it, that makes it all the more powerful. Everyone has access to everything these days. Maybe someone will come along with a band who sounds like Nirvana but a lyricist who writes like Bob Dylan and is into hip-hop and doesn’t have Instagram or Facebook. Maybe they’ll do a couple of shows and disappear. If they did, people would go mental because they’d want them all the more. If you know who that is, please call them because I want to produce them!”
In that same NME interview, Vig also shared some details about Garbage’s next album. The record is supposedly “dark and schizophrenic,” with inspirations ranging from Roxy Music to Talking Heads. Garbage finished recording the music already and, if everything goes according to plan, the album will come out sometime in 2021.
Below, revisit Vig’s recent interview on Kyle Meredith With…