NEV­ER­MIND: 25 YEARS ON

AS NIR­VANA’S SEM­I­NAL AL­BUM MARKS ITS QUAR­TER CEN­TURY, WE TALK TO COVER STAR, SPENCER ELDEN.

GQ (Australia) - - THE SOURCE -

In 1991, Spencer Elden’s par­ents tossed their four­month-old into a pool, had a photo taken of the re­sult and walked away with $200. Not bad for a few min­utes’ work. But that image ended up on the cover of Nev­er­mind, the sopho­more al­bum of Seat­tle grunge band Nir­vana that would go on to sell mil­lions of copies and change the face of mu­sic. These days, La-based Elden is an ac­com­plished artist. He also holds the rare feat of be­ing seen naked by pretty much every per­son on the planet. Still, ap­pear­ing on the cover of one of the great­est al­bums of all time must be pretty awe­some, right? “It’s fucked up,” says Elden of the fact that peo­ple are still talk­ing about it, 25 years later. “I’m pissed off about it, to be hon­est.” Oops.

GQ: When did you re­alise be­ing the Nir­vana baby was such a big deal?

Spencer Elden: I’ve been go­ing through it my whole life. But re­cently I’ve been think­ing, ‘What if I wasn’t OK with my freak­ing pe­nis be­ing shown to ev­ery­body?’ I didn’t re­ally have a choice.

GQ: In the past you’ve said it was cool. When did that change?

SE: Just a few months ago, when I was reach­ing out to Nir­vana to see if they wanted to be part of my art show. I was get­ting re­ferred to their man­agers and their lawyers. Why am I still on their cover if I’m not that big of a deal?

GQ: Why’d you reach out to them?

SE: I was try­ing to do an art show with the pho­tog­ra­pher who took the pic­ture. I was ask­ing if they wanted to put a piece of art in the fuck­ing thing.

GQ: At least it was a Nir­vana al­bum and not, say, Nick­el­back?

SE: Yeah but the guy’s dead and they’re still sell­ing his mu­sic. It’s like some giant cor­po­ra­tion now. But yeah, it’s awe­some not to be part of some­thing like the Back­street Boys.

GQ: Be­ing the Nev­er­mind kid must be a good con­ver­sa­tion starter.

SE: I don’t even bring it up. Friends used to bring it up more than I did be­cause it’s not like you want to brag about your em­bar­rass­ing naked photo. It’s never re­ally been a huge brag­ging right be­cause I don’t have much to show for it.

GQ: So it’s not like you’re get­ting roy­al­ties or any­thing?

SE: No way. Not at all.

GQ: Has it af­fected your re­la­tion­ships at all?

SE: To­tally. Ev­ery­one thinks you’re mak­ing money from it. You’ll hook up with a hot chick, and then they fig­ure out you’re not mak­ing any money from it and they’ll dump you. You have these peo­ple who think you’re cool be­cause you’re the Nir­vana baby. But it’s fuck­ing weird, man. It’s like that dream where you go to school with­out your clothes on.

GQ: OK, enough about Nir­vana. What else are you up to these days?

SE: I’ve been do­ing a few art shows and paint­ings. I don’t know if I’m ever go­ing to be able to do a piece of work bet­ter than that in my en­tire life. But I’m just try­ing to get it out of my head – this image of a baby chas­ing a dol­lar – and not worry about mak­ing mil­lions of dol­lars. It’s a com­pli­cated thing.

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