Listen to demo tape from Kurt Cobain’s pre-Nirvana band Fecal Matter

Illiteracy Will Prevail in all of its 58-and-a-half minutes of punk glory


Before there was Nirvana, there was Fecal Matter. Formed in 1985 by an 18-year-old Kurt Cobain, who had just dropped out of high school, drummer Greg Hokanson, and future Melvins drummer Dale Crover on bass, the group was never meant to be the most serious endeavor. They recorded just one demo on a four-track titled, Illiteracy Will Prevail. For the first time ever, the entire 58-plus minute demo has surfaced online (via Reddit).

A collection of 13 “totally abrasive” punk songs slathered in noise ending with instrumental and riff tracks, there’s dispute over what the titles of each track really is. What is known, however, is that the last full song before it breaks into instrumentals is an early version of Bleach‘s “Downer”.

After Fecal Matter parted ways as Melvins began supporting their debut EP, Cobain kept passing around Illiteracy Will Prevail. Krist Novoselic eventually got his hands on one, and after hearing some tracks he really liked, he and Cobain agreed to form a band. Thus, Nirvana was born.

Nirvana would go on to re-record two other Fecal Matter tracks, “Anorexorcist” and “Spank Thru”, both of which would appear on separate rarities collections in the early 2000s. Now, you can listen to the origins of those tracks, as well as the entire Illiteracy Will Prevail demo, below.

Illiteracy Will Prevail Approximate Tracklist:
01. Sound of Dentage (00:00)
02. Bambi Slaughter (04:50)
03. Laminated Effect (08:24)
04. Blathers Log (10:42)
05. Class of ’86 (13:19)
06. Boatakk (17:15)
07. Love My Family (19:21)
08. Accusations (28:28)
09. Spank Thru (33:05)
10. Insurance (36:55)
11. Buffy’s Pregnant (38:24)
12. Vaseline (42:41)
13. Downer (45:08)
14. Instrumental version of Boatakk (48:09)
15. Riffs & “Turnaround” by Devo (49:48)