I was in two of the biggest rock bands ever but I was fired after clashing with lead singer – now I’m a military hero | The Sun

FOR millions of music lovers, being in one iconic band would be the realisation of a dream and represent a life well-lived.

But that's not the case for bass player-turned-military veteran Jason Everman, 55.

The reserved rocker is definitely an anomaly, having lived multiple contrasting lives over the past three decades.

Not only was he once a member of grunge titans Nirvana, he also spent time as part of fellow Seattle rock legends Soundgarden, too.

Ultimately, he never got to make the impact musically with either band that he'd hoped to; both experiences failed to lead to a studio album credit.

But for a short time he shared a close bond with some of the biggest names in the 90s music scene.

In a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, Jason explained how he was recruited by Nirvana before they hit superstardom with the release of iconic album Nevermind.

He said: "I guess initially when I came onboard Kurt [Cobain] wanted a second guitar player for the live show basically – have a heavier sound live and take some of the responsibility off him so he could concentrate on vocals and that kind of thing.

"Initially I thought I was going to be able to contribute to the band creatively and then it got to the point when I realised that wasn't going to happen. And the same thing happened with Chad [Channing] the drummer, I think.

"Everyone in the band, including myself, were poor communicators – a lot of passive aggression. We were kids."

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It quickly became apparent that Nirvana was always going to be a vehicle for Kurt Cobain to voice his often dark and troubled lyrics.

Jason said: "On the rare times where we actually rehearsed as a band, which was not a lot, Kurt kind of half-heartedly [asked], 'Who has ideas?' and I'd throw a couple of ideas out. And Chad, a very accomplished musician in his own right, would throw some ideas out and then it would just be glossed over and [Kurt] would be like, 'Well here's the new song I wrote' and we'd start learning that. So it was very cursory. He kind of like threw it out there but it wasn't going to go anywhere."

The bassist can't recall exactly how his time in the band fizzled out, though it would appear tensions during long days on the road played a major part, simply saying to The New York Times that it "just ended".

It was at this time in 1989 that he was preparing to swap the US for a trekking trip in the Himalayas when the chance to join his then favourite band presented itself.

"Kim [Thayil] from Soundgarden called and was like, 'Hey, Hiro [Yamamoto, bassist] quit, do you want to audition for the band?'" recounted Jason.

However, it failed to be the dream gig he had hoped for. A fractious relationship with frontman Chris Cornell reached crisis point and a major decision had to be made.

"It's complicated," said Jason. "But at the end of the day I wasn't getting along with Chris [Cornell] that well and obviously, who's gonna go? It was me.

"It broke my heart. It was a bad spot for me because I loved that band. I never thought they would get as big as they did. Honestly, it was surprising because they were a great band but I always thought they were a little bit too quirky to be huge, despite the Chris factor; a genetically engineered rockstar. But I always thought they were a little too weird to have mainstream success. Which was fine with me – I thought they'd be like a big indie band. Like Sonic Youth or Butthole Surfers, that level. 

"Getting fired from Soundgarden put me in a pretty bad tailspin. It was a rough patch of my life for sure so in order to cut this tailspin off I had to do something radical so what I did was I ended up moving to New York."

Jason had a final throw of the musical dice with the band Mind Funk, but the group failed to receive the label backing needed to crack the mainstream.

Determined not to become a bass-playing journeyman spending his life leapfrogging from one band to the next, Jason did a complete 180 and signed up to the Army after meeting with recruiters in San Francisco.

The 90s saw Jason lives as a member of the US Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion before studying Buddhism in a Tibetan monastery.

Shortly after 9/11, having returned to the US, he completed training for the Special Forces and went on to carry out operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He said: “I don’t believe in fate or destiny, but I did feel a strange sense of kismet, which was probably more of just the right place at the right time. I guess I knew it was on, and I hoped that I would be prepared when it was time to go.

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"I saw stuff I never thought I’d see. Buildings blew up in front of me, dude.”

In 2017 Jason returned to music by forming the band Silence & Light with other military vets.

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