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Book Review : Andy Bollen - Nirvana : A Tour Diary

  • Written by  Carris Boast

Despite the title of the book, this diary utters the words 'Nirvana' in a whisper rather than a bawl, which is what you may not be expecting from a book which has lead singer Kurt Kobain plastered on the front cover. For the intents and purposes of this review, the book will be referred to as 'A Tour Diary'; the focus of the text being the honest voice of Andy Bollen, the drummer with Captain America, who supported Nirvana back in the day as they embarked on a tour of the UK and Europe clutching their epic release Nevermind. You can almost smell the sweat and blood as you delve through the pages of Andy Bollen’s tour diary, reviving 90s nostalgia as you pay witness to the rise of the most influential bands that unintentionally shaped and twisted the UK’s music scene.


'A Tour Diary' is fascinating in showing Nirvana in a new light - examples of this being their kind and caring side in allowing the support acts to use their instruments, sharing their rider, and promoting Captain America in interviews and television appearances. Particularly interesting in 'A Tour Diary' are the archived set lists from the Nevermind tour, as well as insights into how the band dealt with the decline in Kurt’s mental health. Bollen also shares amusing secrets about the self-deprecating side of  Nirvana: such as the boys cringing at their first Top of the Pops appearance, disliking their most popular hit ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’, and not understanding why their music fascinated so many. Such details only make you love the band even more. Andy Bollen's love for the band is clear too: he doesn’t hide the fact that he is a big fan of Nirvana, and lets his inner 12 year old fan-girl spill love letters all over the page. These sweet nothings repeated into the ear of the reader are understandable, and are a natural human reaction to coming face to face, and sharing a few beers with, some of the most culturally iconic figures of a generation.

Along with its insights into Nirvana during a tour crucial to their popularity, the book predominately focuses on taking the reader on an interesting journey with Captain America, and sharing Bollen’s humourous touring tales about groupies, days off, and their bad luck with broken down cars and vans. The many fans of Nirvana may be left feeling a little out of pocket when buying this book, as it describes Nirvana from the viewpoint of another band's experience and their knowledge of the laconic, misunderstood mind of Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl's inherent loveliness will not be significantly augmented here. However, Captain America, Nirvana, and music fans alike may particularly enjoy this diary as it allows direct access into the wandering mind of Andy Bollen, the changing music scene of the 90s, and documents Bollen's first encounters with renowned bands and musicians, such as Hole's lead singer Courtney Love.

'Nirvana: A Tour Diary' takes an interesting look at one of the greatest bands of all time at a time when their popularity was soaring, and makes for an easy, enjoyable read. Though the title implies that the book contains more Nirvana content then there actually is, there is much for music fans - and fans of Nirvana and Captain America - to enjoy.

Nirvana : A Tour Diary is out now and available from amazon.

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