Jack Endino has done countless interviews since Nirvana became a worldwide musical phenomenon in the early 1990s. The Seattle scene veteran recorded the band’s 1989 debut, “Bleach,” which is being reissued this month in a special 20th anniversary edition.
“After twenty years, there’s only so much new stuff I can say about it,” admits the producer, but he still sounds passionate as he recalls the Nirvana sessions. “It is one of the best-known records I’ve done. The irony is, I’d only been producing for about a year-and-a-half when I did this record. I was just a baby record producer and they were a baby band.”
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That innocence is a vital component of the record.
“It’s a young band with no one looking over their shoulder,” he says of the band led by pre-superstar Kurt Cobain. “Business considerations had not entered the equation then, except that they had no money at all. The approach is innocent; it’s ‘Music matters and that’s all. We have enough money for 30 hours,’ so there’s no second-guessing on that record.”
Endino’s first recording session with Nirvana was in January 1988, when they cut a demo. Then he produced the Sub Pop Singles Club 7-inch, “Love Buzz,” that summer, and “Bleach” in December. The album’s notes boasts the record cost $600 to make.
“It was six hundred dollars and some change, seventeen dollars or something,” recalls Endino of the unfathomably small outlay. “It was a little studio. They were really well-rehearsed. It wasn’t like I was a big record producer. I was just a dude turning the knobs.”