It all started with a tweet in May 2013, when Carly Beath spotted a message from someone she had never met stating that Toronto needed an all-female cover band named Hervana.
“I was like, yes! This [name] has to be taken, this has to be a thing,” Beath says.
Hervana’s lineup includes Beath (Skirt Cobain) as lead singer, bass player/backup vocalist Erin Saunderson (Miss Novoselic), drummer Sonia Sennik (Dave Grrrl) and guitar player/backup vocalist Michelle Turingan (Pap Smear).
Beath started playing guitar when she was 15 and recalls practising in her bedroom with her binder of Nirvana guitar tabs. She and Saunderson had played together previously in a band, while Turingan — who always lusted after Cobain’s lyrics — was the odd one out of her group of friends growing up, who were mostly into R&B and hip hop. Sennik has played in various bands across Ontario. The group’s first show was this past March at The Drake, where the foursome was rewarded with a packed crowd and a bustling mosh pit.
Hervana’s sets include a mix of hits and more obscure songs that diehard Nirvana fans want to hear. The band tries to find a middle ground and also takes requests from the audience.
“We put our own energy into it; the vocals are obviously different. Kurt’s voice was so unique, and you can’t imitate it, so we do the best we can,” Beath says. “To us, it’s really important to celebrate Nirvana because they had this mainstream platform and were still willing to get up and say, ‘We’re not cool with racism and homophobia, and if you’re into that — don’t come to our show.’ We pay tribute to that, too.”