It all started with a tweet: “Toronto needs an all-girl Nirvana cover band named Hervana.” It was too good an idea to pass up.
Soon after, a lineup of four female multi-instrumentalists had joined forces – Carly Beath (aka Skirt Cobain), Erin Cousins (aka Miss Novoselic), Sonia Sennik (aka Dave Grrrl) and Michelle Turingan (aka Pap Smear). Much like Nirvana, there were a couple of early lineup changes and the band’s new Dave Grrrl, Adrian Pasen, joined them in September 2014. The stage names were also the product of an inspired suggestion by a stranger, when someone overheard the band members talking at a west-end bar and shouted “SKIRT COBAIN!”
Like a lot of people who came of age in the ‘90s, Nirvana’s music was a formative influence on the members of Hervana. The razor-edge guitars and massive drums paired with irresistibly catchy melodies provided an entry point into both alt-rock fandom and musicianship; hours spent improving their guitar/bass/drum skills as teenagers often involved playing along to Nirvana tracks.
Since then, each of the band members has been immersed in music. Erin and Carly met while studying audio engineering (and then formed a band that played only a single show before their drummer moved to Winnipeg). Michelle and Carly have both solo and collaborative electronic music projects, contributing original music to things like Toronto-based web series LESlieVILLE. Adrian has played drums, bass and guitar with a host of bands both in Toronto and Berlin, including but not limited to: ADHD the Band, Broadband and Tim Isherwood. Along with her appearances in Toronto and Berlin, she’s also graced stages in such far-flung locales as Winnipeg, Seattle, Ottawa and NYC. Erin released a full length LP with her band Blue Cougars in January 2014 and a new EP in February 2016.
Over the past two years, the band has played across Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes and at events like Wavelength Music Festival, World Pride, Nerd Noise Night and Lupercalia Winter Multi-Arts Festival.
And while the music is #1, Kurt, Dave and Krist’s outspoken support for women is another reason to pay tribute to their legacy. From their performances at pro-choice benefit concerts to Kurt’s appearance on MTV’s Headbangers Ball in a satin ballgown, they were always willing to shake up rock’s macho leanings. It’s essential Nirvana trivia that the title for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was thanks in large part to riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Julie Ruin).
It’s for all these reasons and more that Carly, Erin, Adrian and Michelle are excited to bring a new twist on these classic songs to both nostalgic Gen X-ers and an ever-growing new generation of fans that have discovered the band over the past 20 years.