Krist Novoselic Biography

Bassist, Songwriter (1965–)
As the bassist of the grunge band Nirvana, Krist Novoselic was a part of the music revolution that brought alternative rock to the mainstream.


Krist Novoselic was born on May 16, 1965, in Compton, California. In 1988, Nirvana had its first single, "Love Buzz." They released their debut album, Bleach, in 1989. Nirvana ended up signing with Geffen Records. Their first release with the label, 1991's Nevermind, became a huge hit. The band split up after Cobain's suicide. In 2002, Novoselic was part of another supergroup, Eyes Adrift.

Early Life

Musician, songwriter, activist and author Krist Novoselic was born on May 16, 1965, in Compton, California. As the bassist of Nirvana, Krist Novoselic was a part of the music revolution that brought alternative rock to the mainstream. The son of Croatian immigrants, he spent many of his early years in Gardena, California, making mischief with his younger brother Robert.

The family moved to the small logging community of Aberdeen, Washington, in 1979. Only 14 at the time, Novoselic found the rainy northwestern town depressing and had a difficult time fitting in at school. The next year his worried parents had Novoselic go to their native Croatia to live with relatives, where he discovered such punk rock acts as the Sex Pistols and the Ramones.

After returning to Aberdeen, Novoselic began exploring his interest in music during his senior year of high school. He bought a guitar and took some lessons. Around this time, his brother Robert had a friend, Kurt Cobain, that came over to their house sometimes. But Cobain did not make much of an impression on Novoselic until later. Novoselic graduated from high school in 1983 and had some surgery done on his jaw to correct a severe underbite soon after.

Seattle Scene

For a time, Novoselic worked as a painter, but he was eventually laid off. He also played in a few local groups and even tried to start a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band with Cobain, according to the book Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana by Michael Azerrad. With his girlfriend Shelli, Novoselic moved to Arizona in 1986, but they only stayed six months. They returned to Washington, and Novoselic soon started working with Cobain on a new band.

What would become Nirvana started out as a trio, with Novoselic, Cobain and drummer Aaron Burckhard. In 1987, they started playing house parties and other small gigs in Olympia. Using the name Skid Row, the band played on Evergreen State College's radio station. They toyed with a few other names before finally settling on Nirvana.

The next year, Nirvana had its first single, "Love Buzz," released by the small independent label Sub Pop Records. By this time, Burckhard was out and Chad Channing had taken over drumming duties. Nirvana's popularity in the emerging Seattle music scene was growing, and they released their debut album, Bleach, in 1989. To promote the record, the band toured extensively, playing gigs across the United States and in Europe. That same year, Novoselic married his longtime girlfriend Shelli.

Novoselic and Cobain were in search of a new drummer in 1990. That summer, Nirvana served as an opening act for Sonic Youth, an indie band they much admired. Longtime friend Dale Crover of the Melvins played the drums for the tour. They soon found a permanent replacement in Dave Grohl, who had previously played with Scream and Dain Bramage.

Big Break

Soon the major labels became interested in the group, offering contracts with large advances. Nirvana ended up signing with Geffen Records. Their first release with them, 1991's Nevermind, became a huge hit, driven in part by the single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." While Kurt handled most of the songwriting duties, all three band members worked on this track, which combined elements of punk, metal and pop. "I remember when we first did it, it was nothing special. But after it was recorded, I thought, 'Hey, this is really good. It really rocks,'" Novoselic told Michael Azerrad for his book, Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana.

The video for "Smells like Teen Spirit"—subversive take on a pep rally—got heavy play on MTV. In nearly a year's time, Nevermind sold more than 4 million copies. Nirvana, with raw, emotional sound, helped launch what was called the grunge movement, which often captured feelings of alienation and frustration. They paved the way for other bands, such as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, to become well-known national acts.

The pressures that came with all of that success weighed heavily on the group, especially Cobain who sank deeper into drug abuse. Cobain's relationship with singer Courtney Love also put a strain on band relationships. Things were especially tense when Cobain uninvited Shelli Novoselic from his wedding to Love because he believed that she was gossiping about his wife-to-be in February 1992. As a result, Krist decided not to attend the ceremony either. "After that, I was pretty estranged from him. It was never the same," Novoselic told Charles R. Cross in his book, Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain.

Death of Curt Kobain

The band made one more studio album together, In Utero (1994). Rolling Stone called it "brilliant, corrosive, enraged and thoughtful, most of them all at once." While Cobain handled the lyrics, Novoselic and Grohl helped write the music for one track, "Scentless Apprentice." Still, Cobain was increasingly distant and became more depressed. He attempted suicide by overdosing on drugs in March 1994 in Rome while on vacation during the band's European tour. On April 5, 1994, Cobain killed himself at his home.

Novoselic mourned the passing of his once close and longtime friend along with the rest of the world. After Cobain's death, the remaining members of Nirvana won a Grammy Award for their live acoustic recording, MTV Unplugged in New York (1994).

After Nirvana

After Nirvana, Novoselic has devoted a lot of his time to activism. He was president of the Joint Artists and Music Promotions political-action committee in the mid-1990s. The organization fought against legislation aimed at regulating music lyrics. In 2004, Novoselic's book Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy! was published.

While he reportedly turned down an offer to join Grohl's band, the Foo Fighters, Novoselic has continued to be involved in the music world. After Nirvana, he formed Sweet 75, which produced one self-titled album released in 1997. Novoselic also directed and produced the film L7: The Beauty Process, which followed the struggles of an all-female hardcore group. In 1999, Novoselic played with Jello Biafra, formerly the lead singer of the Dead Kennedy, and Kim Thayil, a guitarist who used to be with Soundgarden. The trio performed at a special show in Seattle as part of a protest against the World Trade Organization.

In 2002, Novoselic was part of another supergroup, Eyes Adrift. The band featured Curt Kirkwood, previously with the Meat Puppets, and Bud Gaugh, the drummer of defunct band Sublime. This trio did not last long, however. They produced one self-titled album together. Novoselic currently plays with the California punk band Flipper.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!