Krist Novoselic

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Krist Novoselic
Krist Novoselic.jpg
Novoselic performing at the "Nevermind 20 Years Celebration at the EMP" in 2011.
Background information
Birth nameKrist Anthony Novoselic
Also known asChris Novoselic
Born (1965-05-16) May 16, 1965 (age 53)
Compton, California, U.S.
OriginAberdeen, Washington
  • Musician
  • activist
  • songwriter
  • author
  • director
  • Bass guitar
  • vocals
  • guitar
  • accordion
  • organ
Years active1987–present
Associated acts

Krist Anthony Novoselic (/ˌnvəˈsɛlɪ/; Croatian: Krist Novoselić; born May 16, 1965) is an American musician and political activist, and was the bassist and founding member of the grunge band Nirvana alongside guitarist and lead singer Kurt Cobain.[1][2] Nirvana achieved massive success, earning multiple gold and platinum awards and touring around the world at sold-out shows.[3]

After Nirvana disbanded following the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994, Novoselic formed Sweet 75[4] in the following year and Eyes Adrift in 2002, releasing one album with each band.[5] From 2006 to 2009, he played in the punk rock band Flipper, and in 2011, he contributed bass and accordion to the song "I Should Have Known" on the Foo Fighters' studio album Wasting Light, along with playing bass guitar and accordion in his current band, Giants in the Trees since June 2016.[6][7]

Apart from his musical endeavours, Novoselic has been active politically, including the creation of the political action committee JAMPAC (Joint Artists and Musicians Political Action Committee).[8] From 2007 through 2010 he wrote a weekly column on music and politics for Seattle Weekly's website.[9] Since 2008 Novoselic has been board chair of the electoral reform organization FairVote.[10]


Early life[edit]

Krist Anthony Novoselic was born on May 16, 1965 to Croatian[11][12][13] immigrant parents, Kristo and Maria, in Compton, California. He lived there for one year before his parents moved to the ethnically Croatian Los Angeles neighborhood of San Pedro,[14] where he remained for most of his childhood.[15]

Novoselic has a younger brother Robert, born in 1968, and a younger sister, Diana, born in 1973. In 1979, his family relocated to Aberdeen, Washington as a result of surging real estate costs in California. In 1980, his parents sent him to live with relatives in Zadar, Croatia.[16] Novoselic returned to Aberdeen in 1981. His earliest memories of listening to music was listening to Chuck Berry with his father. Growing up, he had a "severe" underbite, for which underwent corrective surgery.[17]

Novoselic with Kathleen Hanna, Bruce Pavitt and Dylan Carlson, Paramount Theater, Seattle, October 31st, 1991

Novoselic was already interested in hard rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Who, Van Halen, Devo and Aerosmith. He also enjoyed listening to Yugoslavian bands such as Zabranjeno Pušenje, Prljavo kazalište and Azra. While in Yugoslavia, he picked up an interest in punk rock, and discovered bands such as the Sex Pistols and Ramones when he lived in Croatia at the age of 14 for one year.[18][19] He has cited Paul McCartney, Geezer Butler, John Entwistle, and Gene Simmons as the fundamental influences of his bass playing.[20]

Sometime later, Novoselic's brother Robert introduced him to his friend Kurt Cobain, who had noticed loud music coming from upstairs. Robert told Cobain that it was his older brother, who listened to punk rock. Cobain eventually befriended the older Novoselic, as the pair ended up sharing similar musical tastes, including a fondness for local band Melvins. The two had several mutual friends and began hanging out shortly thereafter. Krist attended Aberdeen High School and Kurt attended Montesano High School (Washington). At one point, Cobain gave Novoselic a demo tape of his former band Fecal Matter, and asked him to form a band together. After several months, Novoselic finally listened to the tape, liked it, and agreed to start a band with Cobain.[21]

After high school, Novoselic worked as a painter and decorator and was eventually laid off.[22]

Nirvana (1987–1994)[edit]

Cobain and Novoselic's first band lasted barely a few weeks before it disbanded, leaving the pair to move on. However, the duo eventually discovered that Melvins could pull $80 a night for one show. Inspired, Cobain and Novoselic started a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band, in which Cobain played drums and Novoselic sang and played guitar. That band was short-lived as well.[23] Some months later, Cobain and Novoselic met drummer Aaron Burckhard. While the new band never used the name, it was the first incarnation of Nirvana.[24]

Burckhard lasted only a few months and Melvins' drummer Dale Crover filled in until Novoselic and Cobain met Chad Channing. The trio recorded their debut album Bleach, released in 1989.[25] Channing left the band in 1990 and was briefly replaced by Crover and Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters.[26][27] Novoselic contributed to song writing of various songs, helping out Cobain, such as giving ideas.[28]

Later in 1990, Melvins' singer-guitarist Buzz Osborne encouraged Novoselic and Cobain to check out a punk band called Scream.[29] The pair were impressed by their drummer, Dave Grohl.[30] A few weeks later, Scream disbanded, and Grohl placed a call to Osborne for advice. Osborne gave him Novoselic's phone number, and Novoselic invited Grohl up to Seattle (from San Francisco, where Scream broke up). Grohl passed the audition and joined Nirvana. Grohl was Nirvana's fifth and final drummer. This was after the first few recordings of songs from their Bleach Album. Novoselic spent the following months with Nirvana traveling to various labels as the band shopped for a deal, eventually signing with DGC Records.[31]

In the spring of 1991, the band entered Sound City Studios in Los Angeles to record Nevermind. Novoselic helped write the song "Polly". Upon its release, Nevermind (1991) exceeded all expectations and became a worldwide commercial success.[32][33]Nevermind had launched the band as a worldwide phenomenon with their hit single "Smells Like Teen Spirit".[34]

In 1992, at the MTV music awards show, Nirvana would win awards for Best New Artist in a Video and Best Alternative Video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit." At the show, Nirvana performed "Lithium". When Novoselic started playing the opening bass riff, he signaled that he could not hear his bass. Instead of continuing to play, Novoselic threw his bass guitar in the air, to perform a "Bass Toss". He failed to catch it, later stating that he misjudged the height; he further stated that he "faked like he was knocked out." Musician Brian May ran to give him medical attention; he did not suffer any injuries.[35][36][37]

In 1992, Novoselic and the rest of Nirvana recorded a compilation album named Incesticide. Novoselic helped write lyrics for the songs "Dive", "Hairspray Queen", and "Aneurysm" on the album. This album was produced by a joint venture between DGC and Sup Pop.[38]

Novoselic (left) playing bass alongside singer Cobain (right) in 1992.

During Nirvana's 1992 Reading concert, Novoselic sang "The Money Will Roll Right In" with Cobain.[39] Novoselic was an occasional vocalist and backing vocalist in Nirvana, occasionally singing "Scoff" and "Rape Me" at live shows. Novoselic stated that "I kind of discovered my voice for the first time, and the more I did it, the better it got."[40]

In early 1993, Nirvana worked on their third album In Utero, it debuted at number one on the billboard 200 in September of that year.[41] However, the recording sessions mixed by Steve Albini were criticized by the band members, saying some songs "didn't sound perfect" as well as the Novoselic and the rest of the band agreeing that Novoselic's bass lines sounded "too low". In Utero sold 3.5 million copies in the United States.[42][43] In November of that year, Nirvana performed on MTV Unplugged with Lori Goldston playing cello, the introduction of guitarist Pat Smear, and Novoselic playing acoustic bass guitar, accordion, and acoustic rhythm guitar. This live performance was released a year later as an album, named MTV Unplugged in New York, which earned a Grammy Award for best alternative music performance.[44][45][46]

Nirvana ended abruptly in April 1994 following Cobain's death.[47] For most of the rest of that year, Novoselic retreated from the spotlight. One of a few public appearances came that September at the MTV Video Music Awards, where the video for Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" was awarded for Best Alternative Video.[48] Novoselic took the opportunity to pay tribute to Cobain.

Prior to their 1994 European tour, the band scheduled session time at Robert Lang Studios in Seattle to work on demos. For most of the three-day session, Cobain was absent, so Novoselic and Grohl worked on demos of their own songs. The duo completed several songs, including "Exhausted", "Big Me", "February Stars", and "Butterflies".[49] On the third day of the session, Cobain finally arrived. The song "You Know You're Right" was the band's final studio recording. The band had split up following Kurt's death, with both members going their separate ways.[50]

Novoselic and Grohl continued to support the Nirvana franchise. Novoselic worked on completing the With the Lights Out box set and From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah album, as well as pushing for release of a 20th anniversary album for Nevermind.[51]

Post-Nirvana (1995–present)[edit]

After Cobain's death, Novoselic continued to dabble in musical endeavors. He co-formed the band Sweet 75 with Seattle musician Yva Las Vegass in 1995, releasing a single self-titled album in 1997.[52][53]

In 1996, Novoselic joined singer Johnny Cash, guitarist Kim Thayil of Soundgarden and drummer Sean Kinney of Alice in Chains to record a cover of Willie Nelson's "Time of the Preacher", for the tribute album Twisted Willie, released in January 1996.[54]

In 1998, Novoselic directed his first movie, L7: The Beauty Process, a pseudo-documentary that utilizes concert footage taped in 1997 in three American cities.[55][56][57] In 1999, he joined Jello Biafra and Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil in the No WTO Combo.[58][59]

Novoselic in 2007.

In 2002, Novoselic performed uncredited background vocals on Foo Fighters' song "Walking a Line", written as a tribute to Cobain, during the One by One album sessions. The track is included on the One by One bonus DVD, as well as being a bonus track to the album. He then joined former Meat Puppets[60] front man Curt Kirkwood and former Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh to form Eyes Adrift.[61] In Australia, there was another group called "Eyes Adrift", and rather than pay to license that name, the trio called the band and album "Bud, Curt & Krist" in this nation. Eyes adrift released a self-titled album with twelve songs, with the Japanese version including two extras. Eyes Adrift was the first official release in Krist's career where he sang lead vocals, singing lead on "Inquiring Minds", "Dottie Dawn & Julie Jewel" and "Pasted".[62] They also released a single named Alaska. He also took a highly active role in the songwriting process, co-writing several songs with Kirkwood.[63][64] They toured mostly around the United States.[65] The group disbanded in 2003.

Following the end of Eyes Adrift, Novoselic announced that he was quitting the music business, noting that he disliked the process of building up publicity for new records. However, in recent years, Novoselic has occasionally worked on music for a possible solo album, noting, "Right now, I'm just doing it for myself, and that's what it's all about."[66]

In November 2006, it was announced that Novoselic would join Flipper,[67] replacing Bruno DeSmartas on bass, for a tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland.[68] He was a full-time member of the band and had been working on their new album.[69] On September 22, 2008, because of responsibilities at home, Novoselic announced his departure from the band.

[70] As a result, the band canceled the remainder of the tour. Rachel Thoele then replaced Novoselic.[71]

In 2009, Novoselic played a newspaper vendor in the movie World's Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams. In October 2010, Dave Grohl, former Nirvana bandmate of Novoselic, announced live on BBC radio, that Novoselic would be joining Foo Fighters as a bassist and accordionist on their next album, Wasting Light, which was released in 2011.[72]

Novoselic also played bass on children's music artist Caspar Babypants' 2010 album This Is Fun!, for a cover of the Nirvana song "Sliver".[73][74] In 2011, he performed "On a Plain" and "Sliver" with the band at the Nevermind 20th anniversary celebration in Seattle.[75][76]

Novoselic performing in 2011.

In 2012, the Nirvana members partnered with Paul McCartney on the song "Cut Me Some Slack", which was composed specially for the soundtrack of the documentary Sound City directed by Dave Grohl. The song was first shown on December 12, 2012, at the 12-12-12 festival, which brought together music stars for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York.[77] The song was received well by critics. Allmusic called it a "tune with an immediate hook [and] melody".[78] The song won the Grammy award for Best Rock Song in 2014.[79] The partnership was called as "Sirvana" by Novoselic, referring to "Sir Paul McCartney".[80]

On April 17, 2016, Novoselic performed with Paul McCartney on "Helter Skelter" in Seattle as part of the One on One tour during the encore.[81]

In November, 2016, Novoselic confirmed through a reply to a tweet that he is writing more new music.[82] His current band is Giants in the Trees, with band members Jillian Raye, Erik Friend and Ray Prestegard.[83][84] He is also in the band Filthy Friends, playing bass and accordion.[85] He also collaborates with Lepidopterist and author Dr. Robert Michael Pyle with the musical project Butterfly Launches Off Spar Pole. In late July 2017, Giants in the Trees released their first song called "Sasquatch" which features a music video Krist joked as "costing over 2 million U.S. dollars to produce".[86][87] The video has 160K+ views on YouTube.[88][89] Giants in the Trees first album was released in late 2017.[90]

Performance and recording with Foo Fighters[edit]

Grohl originally asked Novoselic to join Foo Fighters as a full-time band member, he declined, stating they would call it "Nirvana 2".[91]

Novoselic's first experience with Foo Fighters was participating in the encore of their show on August 29, 1997 at Memorial Stadium as part of the Bumbershoot festival, where he played bass for the band's covers of "Purple Rain" and "Communication Breakdown".[92] In January 2002, Novoselic performed backing vocals for a non-album track titled "Walking a Line", later released on a special edition of the band's album One by One.[93]

Later, during the encore of Foo Fighters' secret show at Paladino's in Tarzana, California on December 22, 2010, the band, with Grohl on drums was joined onstage by Novoselic and the band's live guitarist Pat Smear for a version of Nirvana's "Marigold" a 1992 Grohl original, which was a B-side on Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box", the first single from In Utero.[94] Novoselic also recorded bass and accordion on the song "I Should Have Known", appearing on Foo Fighters' seventh studio album called Wasting Light, released on April 12, 2011.[95]

On December 5, 2017, Novoselic joined Foo Fighters on stage at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon, to play bass guitar on "Big Me", a song off Foo Fighters debut album Foo Fighters.[96]

Ten months later, on October 6, 2018, Novoselic joined the band during an encore to play several Nirvana songs, with Dave Grohl on drums, Pat Smear on guitar, and Joan Jett filling in as their lead singer.

Political and social activism[edit]

Novoselic in 2008

Novoselic has had an interest in politics from high school. This included the sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.[97][98]

In 1992, the Washington state legislature attempted to pass a bill called the Erotic Music Law. The law would allow courts to declare certain albums "erotic" by their content, and would make it illegal to sell those albums to those under the age of 18. A lobbying group called the Washington Music Industry Coalition formed as a response to the bill. Novoselic and Nirvana actively campaigned against the bill and performed a benefit concert for the lobbying group in September 1992.[99] Krist appeared on ABC KOMO-TV's "Town Meeting" in March 1992 arguing his points and expressing his views with two opposing parties.[100]

In 1995, the Erotic Music Law was reintroduced to the Washington State Legislature as the Matters Harmful to Minors bill.[101] Noting that the music industry had serious clout in Seattle given the success of the scene, Novoselic proposed creating a political action committee, which was named JAMPAC (Joint Artists and Musicians Political Action Committee).[102] Over the next several years, JAMPAC fought a number of different issues, including the Teen Dance Ordinance, a 1985 law that strictly limited the ability of minors to attend shows. With JAMPAC, Novoselic began to turn his focus more and more towards politics.[103]

Novoselic remains active in politics making appearances to advocate electoral reform (especially instant-runoff voting[104] and proportional representation) and running the website.[105] He considered a 2004 run for Lieutenant Governor of Washington as a Democrat, challenging an incumbent of the same party, but ultimately decided against it. He also joined the board of FairVote, then the Center for Voting and Democracy, and was appointed chair in January 2008.[106]

Novoselic's first book, Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy, was published in October 2004.[107][108] It covers Novoselic's musical past, including Nirvana's rise to a worldwide phenomenon of the early 1990s.[109] It also covers his interest in politics, his support of electoral reform, and his belief in the need to return to grassroots movements and clean up politics overall.

He supported Democratic Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election,[110] and in the primary.[111] He has since broken with the Democratic Party, partly because "it's a top-down structure" adverse to reform from its grassroots.[112] In 2007, he made a donation to libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul.[113]

He withdrew from the campaign for county clerk of Wahkiakum County.[114] He was running under the "Grange Party". He is a member of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry.[115] However, the Grange is not actually a political party. He was running in order to protest Washington state's system, in which a candidate can claim any party as their own (real or fictional) without consent or support from the party.[116]

Novoselic giving a speech during his political career.

Novoselic continues to support political reform, even looking at social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as major factors in shaping the political future.[117] He explained his support for fair voting reforms on C-SPAN's Washington Journal in 2012.[118]

In an interview for Reason TV, Novoselic was asked how he described his political views, and he responded, "I'm an anarcho-capitalist, socialist, moderate... I don't know" and continued to say that while his political views couldn't be easily categorized, he finds fault in the political philosophies of both the left and right-wing.[119] On his Twitter page, he announced that he had voted for 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.[120] On his blog, he supported Lawrence Lessig and his political campaign.[121]

In other media[edit]

In 2004, Novoselic's book Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy! was published.

In 2014, ahead of Nirvana's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Krist and Dave made guest appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[122]

In 2007, Krist started writing blogs for the Seattle Weekly website.[123]

In 2017, Novoselic was the DJ numerous times for Coast radio.[124]

Novoselic has a blog entitled "Dream Journal."[125]

Personal life[edit]

In 1989 Novoselic married Shelli Hyrkas, whom he had dated in high school. They divorced in 1999.[126]

Aside from learning bass guitar, Novoselic learned how to play accordion and the electric organ on his own time.

Novoselic is an FAA licensed pilot, earning a single engine land rating after passing his flight test in April 2002. He went on to earn a multi-engine pilot certificate in February 2018.

In early 2004, Novoselic married American artist Darbury Ayn Stenderu. They reside near Deep River, Washington, in rural Wahkiakum County, Washington.[127] He stated that "I live out in the country now and it's quiet and it's a place where I can think a lot."[128]

Novoselic has a strong interest in animals, geology, nature, and other sciences, as well as growing his own food.[129] He owns two cats, named Einstein and Doris.

Novoselic wrote a blog for the Seattle Weekly website from 2007 to 2010.[130]

In 2016, Novoselic completed a Bachelor of Science degree in social sciences, studying at Washington State University.[131]

Novoselic is Croatian American, with his parents being immigrants. He can speak partially fluent Croatian.[132]


With Nirvana[edit]

With Sweet 75[edit]

With The No WTO Combo[edit]

With Eyes Adrift[edit]

With Flipper[edit]

With Giants in the Trees[edit]


Year Artist Release Additional information
1990 Mark Lanegan The Winding Sheet Bass on "Where Did You Sleep Last Night"[133]
1995 Mike Watt Ball-Hog or Tugboat? Organ on "Against The 70's"[134]
Foo Fighters Foo Fighters this ref didn't say he played on the record Bass on "Big Me"[135]
The Stinky Puffs A Little Tiny Smelly Bit of...the Stinky Puffs Bass on "Buddies Aren't Butts", "Menendez' Killed Their Parents", "I'll Love You Anyway" and "I Am Gross/ No You're Not"[136]
1996 Johnny Cash Twisted Willie Bass on "Time Of The Preacher"[137][138]
1997 Sky Cries Mary Moonbathing on Sleeping Leaves Acoustic Bass on "Gliding"[139]
2002 Aya Senjou no Hana Bass on "Prisioner"[140]
Foo Fighters One by One Backing vocals on "Walking a Line"[141]
2010 Wasting Light Bass and accordion on "I Should Have Known"[142][143]
2012 Nirvana members and Paul McCartney reunited to play for film Sound City Sound City: Real to Reel Bass on "Cut Me Some Slack"[144][145]
2014 Kultur Shock IX Bass and accordion on "S One Strane Plive"[146]
2015 Peter Buck Warzone Earth Bass on "Long Time Dead"[147]
2016 Melvins Basses Loaded Bass and accordion on "Maybe I Am Amused"[148]
2017 Filthy Friends Any Kind Of Crowd (single) Bass on "Editions Of You"[149]
Invitation Bass on "Brother" and "Makers"[150]


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Further reading[edit]

  • The Best of Nirvana: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of the Bass Styles & Techniques of Chris Novoselic (July 2003) ISBN 9780634057052
  • Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy (January 2004) ISBN 9780971920651
  • Taboo Tunes: A History of Banned Bands & Censored Songs (April 2004) ISBN 9780879307929
  • Nirvana: The Biography (March 2007) ISBN 9780306815546
  • Kurt Cobain and Nirvana - Updated Edition: The Complete Illustrated History (September 2016) ISBN 9780760351789

External links[edit]