-- Bleach gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
Back in August this year I met the guys from Frontrow Bookings and I was invited to see their upcoming shows and to interview the appearing bands. One of the bands that immediately caught my eye was the Italian Nirvana tribute band Bleach. I'm a huge Nirvana fan and since the band's legendary album Nevermind has celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, the timing couldn't be any better.

So on December 3, 2016 I got together with the folks from Bleach in T Cafe in Sint-Niklaas right before their show to talk about Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, Bleach's beautiful recreation of the Smells Like Teen Spirit music video and why it's better NOT to meet your heroes in person!

Also included in this article is a review I've written about Bleach's performance during the show in T Cafe. You can find it right after the traditional interview photo. Pictures during the Unplugged show were made by me. Picture of me with Bleach made by one of their roadies.

BMS: Buona sera, Daniele and Yuri. Is this your first time here in Belgium?
Daniele: Ciao! Well, We played in Belgium before although this is the first time we're here as part of Bleach. But we love visiting this country, you're a friendly folk, you know how to get a gig professionally organized and when we play a show you guys go wild and we love that! Plus you have great food! We could eat your waffles and drink your beers all day! Ha, ha!
BMS: So tonight you'll be playing an acoustic show.
Yuri: Yeah, tonight we'll be loading up on Jack Daniel's honey liquor and we'll be doing a show similar to the Nirvana Unplugged show that aired on MTV. Our setlist will feature all the songs that the band played during that concert as well as other iconic Nirvana tunes.

Daniele: One of the best things about Nirvana is how musically flexible they were. They could go all wild and furious in one song and then get all slow and gentle in another one! Let's say you compare songs like Breed and Smells Like Teen Spirit to material like Polly and Something In The Way then you would almost think you're listening to two entirely different bands. But the overall Nirvana feeling always prevails.

BMS: What does Nirvana mean to you?
Daniele: Nirvana is and will forever remain one of my all-time favorite bands and their music and overall attitude inspired me to become a musician myself. I recall that during my childhood a cousin of mine had a copy of the Nevermind album. However, the CD was damaged so some tracks, like the their groundbreaking opening track Smells Like Teen Spirit, were no longer playable on his copy. Still, I fell in love with Nirvana simply by hearing the tracks that his CD was still able to play.
BMS: For me, Nirvana's music feels real. By that I mean that you can truly feel the emotions that are going on in the band members' minds when they play their songs. It may be anger, sadness or even happiness. I believe that's one of the reasons why Nirvana has become as iconic as they are today.
Daniele: Yeah, I believe so too.
BMS: What are your personal favorite Nirvana songs?
Daniele: You know, I can pick any song from Nirvana's discography and honestly tell you it's my favorite! But if I really have to pick one, I'd go with Nirvana's final officially recorded song, You Know You're Right. It's scary to think their frontman Kurt Cobain committed suicide only two months after the song had been recorded.

Yuri: I'll go with the entire In Utero album. At that point Kurt's songwriting was at its peak and therefore he and the band created a masterful album with a varied set of epic songs! The band sounded more natural and down-to-earth than ever before! The album features streamlined rock music, acoustic ballads and heavy grunge music all in one package! Kurt Cobain may have killed himself one year after In Utero's release, but he went out with a fucking bang! No pun intended!

Daniele: Or as Kurt used to say: It's better to burn out than to fade away! And he certainly proved his point!

BMS: I still feel a bit divided between Nevermind and In Utero. They both feature such beautiful material. Time to focus on your band. How's the overall feedback from Nirvana fans regarding your tribute band?
Daniele: I don't know why but people always go crazy wherever we play! So I guess we're doing a good job. We put a lot of effort in paying homage to Nirvana's legendary discography and the fans seem to enjoy it just as much as we do.
BMS: I saw your music video for your cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit and I loved how you recreated the original music video by using similar camera angles, video filter and even wearing clothes similar to what the Nirvana guys were wearing.
Yuri: That recreated Smells Like Teen Spirit music video was a nice little experiment as Daniele and me were aspiring to become music video directors as well as promoting our tribute band. Our interpretation of the Smells Like Teen Spirit video was a big success, it boosted our band's popularity and encouraged us to form our own video direction company called Trilathera.

Daniele: Nowadays you need to be original if you want to stand out in the enormous world of social media.
BMS: Indeed, now for a special question. Imagine Kurt Cobain's spirit would suddenly appear in front of you. What would you say to him?
Daniele: Actually I don't want to meet him in person, in spirit or in any other form. Sure, most people dream about meeting their all-time favorite actor, musician, sports athlete, YouTube personality, etc. but those idols may be very different people behind the scenes than when the spotlights shine on them. I'm a fan of Kurt Cobain the artist, but I probably won't like Kurt Cobain the person.

Yuri: Never meet your heroes! Your adoration for them may severely diminish once you get to know them for real.
BMS: Well, if I were able to meet Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson or the late Lemmy Killmister in person I would certainly take the chance! But you certainly have a point that I didn't think about before.

BMS: Something else, I've noticed that you like to use some props during your show like the In Utero angels and a projector.
Daniele: We want to use everything in our power to recreate a typical Nirvana show. If we use electronic instruments we play faster songs like Smells Like Teen Spirit and Breed so we can encourage the audience to mosh and crowd surf. And then we use a projector for showing Nirvana images and parts of their music videos. Sometimes we even break our own instruments after the show simply because Nirvana did the same thing themselves. During acoustic shows we go for slower and more intimate songs and we add candles and soft stage lightning as it was during Nirvana's Unplugged performance.

Yuri: And as a nice plus we sell replicates of famous t-shirts Kurt Cobain wore during his life such as the Flipper shark shirt and the Daniel Johnston shirt.

BMS: Yeah, I saw the shirts and thought they looked oddly familiar. I wonder, Daniele, what is that name tattooed on your knuckles?
Daniele: It says Wolfpack, the name of latest album released by the post-metalcore band Hopes Die Last. I am the band's vocalist and Yuri does bass. And it's with that band that we've already toured through most of Europe and even Russia and Japan. Expect not the USA. But we'll make sure the first town we visit will be Aberdeen. Ha, ha!
BMS: Is there anything else you wish to say before you start the gig?
Yuri: We hope that this Belgian tour becomes successful enough so that we go for a full European tour in the near future. As Bleach we've already played in Romania and in several locations around our home country of Italy but there are many more places where we want to play as part of Bleach.

Daniele: I want to thank Frontrow Bookings for helping us arrange our Belgian tour and we hope the people in attendance will enjoy tonight's acoustic show! Yesterday we had an awesome gig at the Moonlight Music Hall in Diest and we've got several more shows in the following week.
BMS: Thanks for your time! And now, dear readers, time for the review!


I'll start this review by saying that Bleach is the best Nirvana tribute band next to Nirvana themselves! Did I get your attention? Ok, now there's no going back for me.

This month Bleach joined forces with Frontrow Bookings to do an 8 show tour in Belgium. I attended the acoustic show on December 3, 2016 in T Café in Sint-Niklaas. And for this particular gig Bleach paid homage to Nirvana's legendary MTV Unplugged performance. The 22 song setlist consisted of all songs Nirvana had played during that iconic show in addition to several other awesome songs from the band's catalogue such as You Know You're Right, Heart-Shaped Box, Rape Me and even an acoustic version of Breed!

Yup! I never thought it was possible but Bleach managed to convert this fast, edgy song into an equally fast and edgy acoustic version! Very impressive! Aside from that, Bleach flawlessly worked their way through all those songs and I had a blast singing along with them during many of the familiar Nirvana tunes! Especially their version of Heart-Shaped Box felt extremely deep and powerful. The acoustic conversion made this song in particular sound and feel even more darker and depressing than the original version. It was one of the highlights of the Bleach Unplugged show! However, the setlist did miss a couple of notable songs such as In Bloom and Smells Like Teen Spirit. After the show Daniele told me that he and the other Bleachers weren't satisfied with the current acoustic versions of these tracks. But I'm sure that one day they'll come up with something awesome!

When it comes to style and presentation Bleach replicated the beautiful cover of the Nirvana album In Utero by putting two life sized In Utero angels on stage with a soft, white light shining on them. Along with the pale white background it gave the stage a candlelit effect. A simple, but effective stage setup! One particular moment that made Bleach feel even more like Nirvana was at the end of show. When playing the final riffs for the song Where Did You Sleep Last Night Bleach's frontman Daniele furiously jammed his guitar and for a moment I thought he was going to smash his guitar right in front of me! He didn't, but I think that moment Daniele came very close to becoming Kurt Cobain himself! The fact they both have slender physiques, long blond hair, deep blue eyes and casual clothes further drives my point home!

My score for Bleach: 9 In Utero angels out of 10! Overall, I can highly recommend all Nirvana fans to go and see Bleach! No matter if they play an electronic or acoustic set they will be giving you one hell of a show that beautifully pays tribute to one of rock music's most iconic bands. Like Nirvana, Bleach is loud, intense and dead honest about who they are! I swear that they don't have a gun, so come as you are!
Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit as covered by Bleach