April 5th, 1994 is a date that is etched in many music fans memories forever. It was the date that one of the most important men of the 1990s music scene was found dead in the guest house of his Seattle home. The news stories flew out thick and fast – ‘Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is dead’ – it was news that sunk many music lover’s hearts worldwide. Worse still was the news that followed, the Police believed Cobain had placed a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Of course like many celebrity deaths there were soon conspiracy theories circulating, many indicating that Cobain was in fact murdered and that the Police report about his death was very, very wrong. The Cobain murder theory received more legs when in 1998 Nick Broomfield’s controversial documentary Kurt & Courtney, while the docco itself hinted the Police report was correct many who watched the docco and saw a very new view of many of the people in Kurt’s life formed an entirely new theory on what happened around the time of April 5th, 1994.
Now comes one of the most damming documentaries that you are ever likely to see about the death of Kurt Cobain, Soaked In Bleach. The film’s director and creator, Benjamin Statler, couldn’t be a better candidate to make a docco about Cobain’s death. A self-confessed Nirvana fan and a filmmaker involved with the two very well received documentaries Act Of Valor and Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope.
Chatting to Statler you soon learn exactly where he comes from and what kind of filmmaker he set out to be. How many other filmmakers watched Rocky III and then wanted to make films about exposing the truth? Statler is also quick to explain how the death of Cobain affected him.
“It affected me hugely,” says Statler with a huge breath. “I was 20 years old at the time, they never easy years, and it was easy news for anybody, but for me and I guess a lot of people the 20s ballpark are still formative years, and I’d just been through an emotional time and he was my poetic hero, so when I heard he made that choice that was a pretty dark cloud over me for a long time, but I had enough positive things and influences in my life that I didn’t do what 68 kids that we know of did at the time, copycat suicides. And that is just the ones that we know of. But yeah it affected me greatly.”
One of the things that really surprises the audience when they sit down to watch Soaked In Bleach is just how honest the documentary is with it’s theory of what happened to Kurt Cobain on that day. While many theories out there come from supposed ‘friends of a friend’ Statler went right to one of the key men in the Cobain case to get his version of events – private investigator Tom Grant.
“Before I decided it make this film I discovered Tom Grant’s website,” explains Statler after I ask how Soaked In Bleach first became an idea. “So I was always dreaming of bringing the objectives, the mountain of objective stack and bringing it to the mainstream, it did feel like a movie was about to begin. Now I first heard about Tom Grant in Nick Bloomfield’s film Kurt & Courtney which had a lot of great stuff in it and I’m very thankful to Nick for that, I’ve met him and he’s a great guy, but I just felt like cobaincase.com, Tom Grant’s website, had so much great stuff it was just mind blowing and I was thinking how have I not heard of this, how is this not in the mainstream? And I thought that was very unjust that it wasn’t so I thought I’d change that.”
Statler is quick to point out that Tom Grant isn’t one of these ‘friends of a friend’ that so many people talk about. ‘Tom Grant was, had been, an L.A County Sherriff Deputy before he became a private investigator, he had numerous cases and having got to know Tom I know that he is very much a family man and he has moved away from Malway and he is very much about his grandkids etc, so he is very different to the way that many people have portrayed him.. The detractors will try and say that he is this man who is obsessed with this conspiracy theory and that couldn’t be further from the truth. He is a man who wants to spend his years now with his family and his grand children who happened to be a very ethical man who cares very much about truth and justice and isn’t going to compromise on this, he isn’t going to give in.”
“Tom’s involvement began when Courtney (Love) called on Easter Sunday, 1994 and said that her husband was missing, for whatever reason, and his investigation was underway. First of all Tom’s explains in the movie what a conspiracy theory actually is, because that is a word that is often misused, it simply means two or more people involved in a crime. Still a lot of people use that term (conspiracy theory) meaning that it is the unaccepted story or the fringe type story, but it doesn’t mean that all. If Tom believed that only one person was involved in Kurt’s death it would be a homicide theory but he believes two or more were involved, just look at the word it is actually co-inspire – conspiracy, so he believes two or more people were involved in the death of Kurt Cobain. So yes he believes there was a conspiracy to murder Kurt Cobain.”
One of the best things about Soaked In Bleach is that it doesn’t leave it’s audience wondering and instead puts Tom’s theory out for all “Tom is very open. He believes Courtney had Kurt killed. Tom points out that Kurt was divorcing Courtney and taking her out of his will and that age old motive was there. He just found there were countless contradictions that occurred from day one while looking into her.”
Soaked In Bleach is now available through Shock.