Shortly before embarking on what would be their final tour Nirvana booked into Robert Lang Studio in Shoreline, Washington. Three days were penciled in over the weekend of January 28th to 30th with the primary reason being that they just wanted to “do something” according to Krist Novoselic, having recognized that several of their past songs had come about by recording on a whim. Whilst they were far from the stage of getting ready to record a new album a few ideas were swirling around, written during touring of In Utero.
Kurt Cobain had initially suggested they booked into Studio X, location for the recording of a huge range of popular albums from Soundgarden’s “Superunknown” to R.E.M’s “Automatic for the People”. Robert Lang Studio was instead chosen based on the recommendation of Dave Grohl. Just a stone's throw from his Seattle home, a member of the crew had informed him about the location – “You know, there’s this guy, Bob Long, who’s built a studio that’s entirely underground, and it’s the size of a gymnasium,” Grohl was told. After scouting the studio and meeting owner Lang the band were impressed by what they saw and intended to visit over the course of a weekend.
Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic promptly arrived on Friday afternoon and were expecting Kurt Cobain to arrive at some point during the weekend. The pair were not too concerned by his initial no-show, having become used to it over the past few years.
Whilst waiting Grohl and Novoselic took full advantage of the time and empty studio, recording some of their own songs or just jamming and experimenting. “It was just Krist and I screwing around with funny things, and I recorded a couple of my songs. We just tried to make do with the time we had,” Grohl recalled.
Much of the material recorded over the first two days was instrumental and given basic descriptive titles. After several experimental jams (such as one experimenting with the sounds created by a Theremin plugged into an Echoplex tape machine) the pair recorded what was at the time simply titled as 'Dave/Acoustic + Voc'. The track was, in fact, a very early version of what would later be known to Foo Fighters fans as ‘February Stars’, released on the 1997 album ‘The Colour And the Shape’. This embryonic version would include several alternative lyrics and featured Novoselic playing the Harmonium, which according to guitar technician Earnie Bailey “really made the song”.
Another guest on the song was a cat, a stray that had wandered into the studio adding some mewing noises at the start of the track. The morning of the final day arrived with Kurt Cobain still a no-show. Unsure when, or even if he would arrive, Grohl and Novoselic plowed on. Grohl elected to record a new version of ‘Exhausted’ and debuted another new song, ‘Big Me’. These recordings were almost identical to later versions, although with Novoselic on the bass these initial versions were stronger in that regard.
Cobain finally arrived at the studio in the afternoon and Nirvana material could finally be recorded but with limited time only one proper song could be worked on extensively, ‘You Know You’re Right’. Following one further jam, given the rough title ‘jam after dinner’, Cobain left the studio. With the day almost at a close, there was just enough time for Novoselic to assist Grohl on one more of his songs, a rough instrumental version of the track ‘Butterflies’.
Whilst ‘You Know You’re Right’ would see release in 2002, with snippets of the jam following on 2004s ‘With the Lights Out’ box set, none of Dave and Krist’s work at this session has ever been released.