The Courtney Love vs. Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic case is on its way to court, and in late September the world should know more about the fate of unreleased Nirvana material.
But Grohl is beginning to question whether all the legal mumbo jumbo is worth the hassle.
In April the surviving members of Nirvana asked that Love be forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to test her sanity, and later in the month a judge denied the request, causing Grohl to bang his head against the wall as forcefully as he pummels his drum kit.
“At the end of the day it’s just not worth all the pain and the anguish,” Grohl recently told MTV News. “God, I had to get up at 9 a.m. to do a deposition today, and it’s just not worth that to me because my contribution has been made. The band is over and forever that music will be there. There are times when I honestly don’t give a sh- who’s running the cash register. I’ll always be the guy who played drums in that band, and to me that’s more important than control or power or money or whatever.”
In addition to being stressful and time-consuming, the litigation threatens to demean all that Nirvana stood for and accomplished, Grohl said.
“Rolling Stone recently had a cover that read, ‘Who Owns Kurt Cobain?’ It’s just absolutely everything the band stood against and has nothing to do with why the band was a band in the first place.”
Despite the headaches, Grohl is determined not to relent in the fight with Love because he doesn’t feel she’s qualified to represent the best interests of the band and its fans.
“She wasn’t in the rehearsal space writing the music,” he said. “She wasn’t involved in the human records, she wasn’t onstage every night playing or in Aberdeen in 1987, hanging out with Krist and Kurt on tour in that tiny van. She wasn’t there for the majority of the band. So it would be different [if she wins control of Nirvana’s music]. It would be like handing Microsoft to me.”
Love’s attorney, O. Yale Lewis, refuted that argument, calling it a “misperception of the law” and adding that under federal copyright law Cobain’s heirs have the right of first publication for previously unreleased songs.
“If David Grohl was Bill Gates’ heir, he would in fact be handed Microsoft upon Mr. Gates’ death,” Lewis said. “But he’s not Bill Gates’ heir. Neither is he Kurt Cobain’s heir, so he’s not going to be given what Kurt Cobain owned because that’s given by law to Cobain’s heirs.”
Last month portions of the last song Nirvana recorded, “You Know You’re Right,” surfaced on the Internet, creating a new wrinkle in the relationship between Cobain’s wife and his former bandmates. Grohl and Novoselic wanted to include the track on a planned Nirvana box set, but Love claimed she owned the track and sued to prevent it from being included in the project. After the song was leaked, some accused Grohl of uploading the track to the Net to diminish its value – a claim Grohl vehemently denies.
“Someone got a hold of a copy of that song, but not from me,” he said. “I didn’t give it to anybody. This person in Spain put clips of it up on his Web site, and immediately lawyers came down on this kid going, ‘Where did you get that song?’ And he says, ‘I got if off of a Probot CD,’ which was a side project of mine. So the lawyers just go straight to me: ‘Why are you distributing this song?’ And I had absolutely nothing to do with it.”
Grohl is a supporter of file sharing, though, likening it to the underground tape trading that helped empower the ’80s punk-rock movement.
“When I was a kid in D.C., before a band’s album came out you’d have a copy of it, albeit seventh-generation,” Grohl said. “It was cool because it wasn’t about selling records, it was about filling the club and people singing along with the songs. I think it’s cool that you can share music and you don’t have to stick a nickel in something just to hear a song. To me it has nothing to do with ‘Are they going to buy the packaging? Does it have the same quality? Does it have whatever?’ You know what? Kids want to hear the music. And so you play it for ’em. And if your album gets leaked and a million people go out and copy it, in a weird way that’s kind of flattering.”
Grohl added that if he and Novoselic weren’t enmeshed in a court battle with Love he wouldn’t have any problem with unreleased Nirvana songs being on the Internet.
“If everything was peachy keen and moving along just fine, then I would think that it’s kind of cool that some people actually got to hear the music rather than it being caught up in a bunch of f–ing legal bullsh-. I do want people to hear the songs. The stuff that’s on the box set is stuff like the craziest, most freaked-out Butthole Surfers/Scratch Acid flip out that you’ve ever heard in your life. But I’m fortunate because I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams and I don’t gotta worry about selling CDs anymore.”