Conversations with Chad Channing

krist novoselic chad channing kurt cobain- nirvana (1988)
Left to Right: Krist Novoselic, Chad Channing, & Kurt Cobain for Nirvana {circa. 1988}


What more do you have to say, these days, in a world littered with amalgamations and half-baked musical rantings; they are a myth, and a legend whose memory still breathes and pulsates to this day. With their recordings they have embedded an eternal scar on the map of music history. A blister that refuses to blunder, adding tact and excitement to our modern music scene. Thank the lords.

kurt cobain chad channing jason everman krist novoselic- nirvana (1989)- the eye of faith {vintage}
Left to Right: Kurt Cobain, Chad Channing, Jason Everman, Krist Novoselic {circa 1989}
Left to Right: Kurt Cobain, Chad Channing, Krist Novoselic {circa. 1988}
chad channing krist novoselic kurt cobain- nirvana (1988) - the eye of faith {vintage}
Left to Right: Chad Channing, Krist Novoselic, Kurt Cobain {circa. 1988}
The band died with the death of their front man who remains a weird sort of God in many rights, of “Grunge”, of style, of music, of mystery, of lifestyle, and of many more things than what he probably meant the most. Those who knew him could speak to that sort of thing. Those who don’t, merely muse and wander down that crazy road of imagination we all have built in for us…
Lucky for us, we have had the opportunity to gain some insider commentary from inside this mysterious enigma. Our faithful correspondent John Wisnewski gained some incite into the mind of singer /bassist with Before Cars and drummer for Nirvana during the integral early years of 1988-1990 , Chad Channing, who was a vital part of their debut album Bleach .
You can hear him on ten of the album’s 13 songs, as well as making an appearance in their follow-up album Nevermind in 1991 on “Polly”, although he had already left the band due to artistic differences.
JOHN: So, Chad – your father was a disc jockey. Did this association with the music industry help determine your career path?  
CHAD: Actually, I wanted to be a professional football (soccer) player, but a bad accident which shattered my leg in 7 pieces quickly put an end to that…Oops!’
JOHN: Whom are some of your musical influences?  
CHAD:  David Bowie, The Cars, Jim Croce, The Beatles, Hüsker Dü, America, Young Marble Giants,..these are some of my early influences.
chad channing portrait- the eye of faith {vintage}
JOHN: What were the first bands that you were in, Chad, during the early 80’s?
 CHAD: My first band was called Color Me Gone. After that, I was in a band called Mind Circus followed by Stonecrow. And then, it was The Magnet Men which later changed it’s name to Tic-Dolly-Row.
kurt cobain and chad channing- the eye of faith {vintage}

JOHN: When did you meet Kurt Cobain and there-in-by join Nirvana? 

CHAD: I met Kurt and Krist at a show we played together at the Community World Theater in Tacoma, Washington. I was playing in Tic-Dolly-Row and we opened for his band which was called Bliss, at the time. No long after that show, Tic-Dolly-Row disbanded and I was asked if I wanted to play for Nirvana.

JOHN: What was it like having these photo shoots and/or people taking photos of you guys for the first time? And were they friends of yours, and if not, how did you come across these opportunities as a young indie band? 

CHAD: Well I personally never minded the photo shoots.  Kinda always thought they were fun!  Our first in studio photo shoots were taken by Charles Peterson.  We met him through Sub Pop as he was their main guy for all that kinda stuff.  We got to know Charles and his work pretty quickly 🙂  Some photos were taken by friends as well.

Nirvana+band+in+1990From Left to Right: Kurt Cobain, Jason Everman, Chad Channing, and Krist Novoselic looking epic {circa. 1990}

chad channing + krist novoselic- nirvana- the eye of faith {vintage}Chad Channing and Krist Novoselic chillin’. 

JOHN:  Were you satisfied with the final version of Nirvana’s  Bleach?   

CHAD: Overall, I was satisfied. There were a few small things I might have done differently were I to do it all over again. But, I find there are always things that pop up here and there on recordings I’ve done that make me feel this way. It keeps me striving to do better. And that’s always a good thing to me 🙂

Young and Beautiful- Chad Channing krist novoselic and kurt cobain- nirvana- the eye of faith {vintage}Chad Channing, Krist Novoselic, and Kurt Cobain; Field of Dreams. 

JOHN: Style always seems to be a subject that has become increasingly synonymous with ‘Nirvana’, and ‘Grunge’ has integrated itself back into our contemporary landscape when it comes to fashion in a big way. You guys are looked at as idols in many ways, and yet I bet at the time you guys never really thought about it. 

What is it like seeing your style and Kurt being put on a pedestal for something you were all inadvertently against, in a way, especially over twenty years later? 
CHAD: Kinda silly really. Then again I was really into punk rock in my earlier days before Nirvana and wore stuff that I guess would have fit the style.  In the end though I never really payed that much attention to how I was dressed because it was always the music that spoke to me and not somebody’s pants . It was just the way we were. 
Also, it was readily available in thrift shops and was cheap. Well, cheap until it starting showing up on mannequins.
JOHN: Could you tell us about joining the band Fire Ants after Nirvana? The sound of Fire Ants is very different from that of Nirvana. Did you wish to play a different type of music?

CHAD: Kevin Wood and I had been good friends before I joined Nirvana, and after Nirvana we talked about getting a band together.  We got a friend of his, Dan McDonald, to play bass and later got Kevin’s brother Brian to sing. When the Fire Ants started up, I knew that the sound would be different from the start. I was already very familiar with Kevin’s guitar style/playing from the Malfunkshun days.

It wasn’t that I was looking to do something completely different. It just turned out that way. My previous band (Tic-Dolly_Row) before Nirvana was very different by comparison as well. I’m just used to changing things up a bit if I need to.

JOHN: When did you form Before Cars? What was your idea for the sound of the music?

CHAD:    The idea to start Before Cars was in 2005. It officially became a band in 2006. My idea with the band and the record “How We Run” was to write music drawing from the 70’s and early 80’s.  My father was a disc jockey back in those days ,and so I heard all kinds of different music and heard them often as my mother would always have him on the radio all day. He worked various stations from top 40 to rock, country and whatever else there was. Over the years I’d have to say 70’s music has always been one of my biggest influences. Although, I do listen to a very wide variety of music from Electronica, to Classical, and everything in between.

JOHN: Do you have any advice for young creatives trying to establish themselves in the big bad world out there?

CHAD: Originality comes from the heart.  And it’s a path worth following!  Which also means you’ll need to be persistent and have allot of patience.  Oh…and have fun!…always have fun!

Until we meet again,



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{The Eye of Faith}


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One comment

  1. Interesting interview (and choice of interviewee) – I quite enjoyed the 2 observations in particular: the recording is never quite perfect and certain clothes are cheap until they show up on a mannequin!


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