REVIEW: Melvins’ “Freak Puke”

Photobucket Melvins are my overlords.

Let me type that again so that you clearly know what I am trying to say here:


For all I know, they could be my landlords too.

I am a Melvins devotee for life, and yet it truly hurts me inside that with them being one of my all time favorite bands, I have not seen them live. Hell, they played in a high school cafeteria in the town I live in ages ago, but this was before they made records. It is a crime, but I hope to one day be able to witness them in a live setting before they decide to stop performing and recording. I hope that doesn’t happen for a long time but you’re reading this and saying “fuck man, I just came here to read a review about the new Melvins album, I don’t want to read your pissy story on how you haven’t seen your precious overlords.” Whatever man. Whatever.

Freak Puke (Ipecac) is a unique album in that they’re also billing this as being “Melvins Lite”. The band have been a quartet for awhile, but now they’re down to three for this release. Melvins have a way of twisting how they make music and this time they’re down to three, which for many is “classic Melvins”, the trio vibe. Maybe for a future EP they’ll be a duo and call themselves Melv or something, you never know, but by removing one component for this album, they are “lite”. Does that have any effect on the music? Not really, but it seems as if King Buzzo, Dale Crover, and bassist Trevor Dunn have been dipping into their record collections to tap into a bit of easy listening, country, classic rock, and throwing in random experimental/avant-garde segments when they feel like it. With that said, Freak Puke is still a “sensible” Melvins album, some might say it has a slightly similar vibe to what they did on Lysol or Colossus of Destiny. Reasons? For one, this is a band that are known to be very heavy at any given moment, but aren’t afraid to stir things up and throw things into the mix that might make fans go “oh, what the hell is this?” but you accept it because they’re your favorite band. For one, there is a cellist on this album. It’s unexpected but when it’s heard, fans will like how it’s used. It could be a journey into what they all listened to as kids, or they simply wanted to try something that might be considered out of the Melvins-norm. Then again, anything out of their norm is the Melvins-norm.

I also compare this to Lysol because when that album first came out, I listened to it as one gigantic song. There was no track listing on the cover and I was unaware the album actually consisted of six songs, including two Alice Cooper songs. You can listen to Freak Puke in one sitting and kind of get a unified vibe with each of the ten songs, but the biggest surprise was hearing a cover of Paul McCartney & Wings‘ “Let Me Roll It”. Originally released on McCartney’s 1973 album Band On The Run, it was Macca at his rocking best with a riff that moved people, and Buzzo gets into the groove and salutes the song with power and strength.

Even for an album that is meant to represent a “lighter” version of the group, it still fits the Melvins mode, and that’s a good thing. Buzzo ripping and digging his guitar as if it’s a homeless person’s carbuncle, Crover’s drums occasionally sounding like Chinese foods, and Dunn bringing in both electric and acoustic bass elements into their sound (at times sounding like a jazz combo), along with a few quirky moments that fit in with much of what Dunn has done over the years. It’s nothing like their Prick album, but perhaps there are some extra songs from these sessions that could go along those lines. We shall see.

Maybe this album might come off as “freak puke” to some, and if so, good. The album has those familiar band trademarks, blended in with enough twists and turns that may make you wish more bands who have been around this long were as daring. I myself would love to play bongos on a Melvins 7″. I don’t know how I’d get there, but I’d find my way to do a mean bongo solo. Until then, I dwell in the stench of their puke… lightly.

RECORD CRACK: Melvins and Unsane cover each other for new AmRep split 7 inch

When it comes to new Melvins music, for me, it is a joy to behold. It is also a joy to hold, and listen to, depending on the situation, and in this case the situation is this. Amphetamine Reptile are releasing a new split 7″ between Melvins and Unsane, and they’re covering each other’s songs. Melvins are covering Unsane’s “Alleged”, while Unsane cover Melvins’ “The Bloat”, which you can hear above.

The above graphic was done by HAZE XXL.

The record itself is a Cage Match” Tour 7″, so snag it while you can because anytime these guys release a record, they’re snapped up and are hoarded on eBay.

For Melvins fans, this is also one of a number of records that they will be doing this year. You are now able to download a brand new EP from them for free called The Bulls & The Bees and it seems that if the world is truly to end, Buzzlord Almighty will fight it until the end, and then release more music for those of us living in the aftermath.

To catch up on the countless additions to Melvins’ discography scheduled this year, head to

RECORD CRACK: P.S. I Love You – Unearth’s “Caught Up”

For yesterday’s installment of P.S. I Love You I looked at a Dutch Black Sabbath picture sleeve. Today, it’s Black Sabbath homage.

Unearth were a short lived Seattle band who were on that non-existent thin line between heavy metal and grunge, but that’s probably more due to where they were from than anything. They released a 45 on New Rage Records, a label created by Adam Tepedelen and Jeff Kleinsmith, both of whom were in Stymie and employees of C/Z Records at the time. “Caught Up” was the “hit”, but its B-side was a respectable cover of Sabbath’s “Electric Funeral”.

For the picture sleeve, they honored the Sabbath compilation album We Sold Our Soul For Rock’N’Roll, while the lettering on the back was similar to that on the Master Of Reality cover. The label recreated the old Warner Bros. Records logo to where it was now NR, for New Rage. The band would record a nice album called Everything Was Beautiful And Nothing Hurt before calling it a day.

DUST IT OFF: Nirvana’s “Nevermind” 20 years later

As a longtime resident of Washington State, I was very aware of who Nirvana were when they released their second album on this day in 1991. I had been involved in my local punk scene at the time, and while I lived 200 miles from Seattle, I knew of some of what was going on up there. I loved Sub Pop Records and much of what they were releasing, but Soundgarden had moved on to A&M. Green River was long gone, so some of its members moved on to Mudhoney, others went to Mother Love Bone. Mother Love Bone had been signed to a major label when its vocalist, Andrew Wood, died of a heroin overdose. In time, there would be discussion of a new band called Mookie Blaylock, who would eventually change their name to Pearl Jam. I liked the almighty Tad, but my favorite band on Sub Pop was Mudhoney. They were raw, grungy, and not grungy in “sound” but just… if they wanted to be sloppy, they had no problem in doing this. They were not my favorite Seattle or Seattle-area band, that honor went to Melvins and Melvins only, although by the time the 90’s started they had moved to Los Angeles.

Then there was Nirvana.

I think what I liked about Nirvana is that they could do the loud and distorted thing very well, but turn around and be pretty, harmonious, and delicate. Bleach was an album that became mandatory listening not only for music fans in the Pacific Northwest who loved the Seattle music scene, but anyone who looked to Seattle as a place for something different musically. If you wanted college rock, you normally had to turn to the “left of the dial” on the radio. Or you had to seek independent magazines or fanzines, and when you dipped into the underground, those publications were plentiful. If you wanted it, you had to seek it out yourself. England, however, showed an appreciation for the Seattle music long before the U.S. did, and that attention in England and the rest of Europe lead to an appreciation in Japan. Even if Sub Pop did find incredible ways to promote/hype their artists, it was effective and it got them into more venues, expanding their audiences incredibly. Or at least “incredible” in an indie label way.

In 1991, there was a great publication called Backlash, edited by Dawn Anderson, whose work I liked in another Seattle publication I had read frequently, The Rocket. In the March 1991 issue of Backlash was a Nirvana cover story, and it would become the magazine’s final issue. On the cover was a photo of the band, and the word “BYE”, which at the time seemed like nothing more than Anderson saying goodbye to her readers. The article hinted that the group were signed to a major, but it was almost as if she was hinting at something more, even though she didn’t know what that “more” would be. In truth, no one knew, but perhaps there were hints that Nirvana were going to get a greater push than any other Seattle band signed to a major label up until that point. Soundgarden were popular, but they were still a Seattle band. It was almost as if the “BYE” was saying aloha to another chapter in Seattle’s rich music history. Six months after that issue hit the streets, we’d found out exactly what would be changed.

Everyone has a Nirvana memory, or more specifically a Nevermind memory, and mine may not be any different than any others, but this is how I viewed things 20 years ago. A few weeks before the release of the album, MTV aired “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on its alternative music show, 120 Minutes. The music scene at the time was still about the power of hard rock and heavy metal, and while Nirvana never shied away from their love of hard rock & heavy metal, this was a different vibe. I was familiar with it, because the tattooed cheerleaders and slam dancers in the high school gym all looked like friends I hung out with at shows. Dave Grohl had been in the band for a short time at this point, but I knew of him from Scream. The video looked like the kind of mosh pit I wished I had in high school, and that everlasting note at the end of the song made me think “wow, what the hell?” I didn’t think “ooh, music is going to change from this point on”, it was an honor to realize that this band from 200 miles the west of me were getting airtime on MTV, and that was that.

Or so I thought.

Nevermind was released on September 24, 1991 by DGC, or the David Geffen Group. They had invested a good amount of money in the hopes Nirvana would break it big, but at that point in time, their major bread and butter was Guns N’ Roses. Geffen had just released the massive 2CD/4LP set Use Your Illusion, sold as two separate albums, on September 17th, so Geffen was more than happy to do anything for their golden boys. At that point in time, hard rock and heavy metal was king, so when it came to loud and abrasive, Guns N’ Roses were it. A month before this, Metallica had released their self-titled “Black Album”, which pushed them into the mainstream in a major way, pushed by the soon-to-be-radio-friendly “Enter Sandman”. Metal fans now had to battle between the old school GN’R and then-new school thrash of Metallica, there were headbanger battles on who would reign supreme, who would spend time with a patch on their denim jackets. Nirvana didn’t intend to be a swift kick in the nuts, but because they too also rocked but with an attitude that was far from metal and more like the prankster skateboarder kid who would mock you right in your face, people noticed. Nevermind caused a few ripples, which was to be expected since only 46,251 copies were initially pressed. Wikipedia also states that 35,000 more copies were pressed in the UK since most of Nirvana’s fans were there. The group were appreciated overseas, so they at least knew sales of it would lead to more tours. But the presence of a video on MTV, which for many was the first time they had witnessed slam dancing or a mosh pit, made everyone want to know who they were and what they were about. Sales of Nevermind would eventually grow, and of course the rest is history.

When I listened to Nevermind in full for the first time, I liked it. Lots of heaviness, lots of cool songs, and a few mellow tracks. It was merely a follow-up to Bleach and the other songs the group had released, nothing more than just “new Nirvana”. After “Something In The Way” ended, my CD player kept going but nothing was playing. I didn’t know what was going on, but I figured I’d wait it out. Then I fast forwarded. 9 minutes, 10 minutes, nothing. 12, 13, and then I hear something. Rewind the CD dial. The band begins a new song, not listed anywhere on the cover, and it starts out with nothing but a bass. Then the guitar comes in, then the drums. It’s loud and distorted, and then it gets to a delicate part. Kurt Cobain sounds like he’s just moaning into the mic, then the venom comes back. Not even a minute into the song and I’m completely feeling this song, as it reminds me of a band Nirvana knew very well, Melvins. I knew Cobain used to hang out and go to many Melvins shows, but this song to me sounded like some Melvins tribute. They were honoring their friends, the band who arguably pushed these guys to become who they were, and I ate it up. The song then sounded like he was smashing his guitar in the studio, so all you ended up hearing was Grohl’s drums and Krist Novoselic‘s bass. After almost seven minutes, the song was over and I had the biggest shit-eating grin on my face. This was truly “nirvana”, I felt spent but I went to play the song again.

It wasn’t until early 1992 that I found there was a title for this song: “Endless, Nameless”, which makes sense since it had no proper title and it sounded like it could/should never end. Even though “Something In The Way” is the album’s proper ending, when I hear the album get to that point, it’s so open-ended that it’s openness left me going “okay, now I want a proper close.” Was “Endless, Nameless” in a small way a thank you to Melvins, a tribute to the Pacific Northwest, and to all of their fans who had stayed with them in the few years of their existence? The feedback sounds like a massive, sonic fuck but it’s so beautiful because that stereophonic chaos feels like it’s meant to be for you. Everything you ever wanted for people to know about the Seattle music scene felt like it was coming out of that damn studio in Los Angeles, it was like they were saying “c’mon fuckers, now we’re going to kick you in your face, this is our shit.” The last 20 seconds of the song comes off like a chime from outer space before the fuzz of the amps slowly fades out. I knew I would be listening to it in a year, 5 years, 10 years and now? “Endless, Nameless” is as awesome as it was when I first heard it. The song was their orgasm, and now we were bathing in the afterglow.

Too poetic? It didn’t matter. People speak about the 27 curse, and when Cobain died three years later at the age of 27, it almost solidified him as someone of importance. When he died, people wanted to make him a monarch and maybe rightfully so, since the power of the band *as a whole* made people want to cheer. That’s the power of music. Would he want to be a monarch, hell no. But people looked at him dying at 27. People also noted that Cobain’s major label exposure was barely three years. roughly the same time that both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin had between their first major label releases and deaths. Deep down, Cobain was just a punk rock kid from a small hillbilly town with a love for music, writing, and art. He wanted to escape, first through his music, and with his music he left the town that made him feel like an outsider. I think with age, he might have realized that a lot of us are outsiders, but we eventually find someone or something that takes us to where we need to be. I’d like to think for a short time, Cobain was able to see an escape from the doldrums, and I’m certain he knows that his music helped many to leave their own situations as well.

A band like Nirvana would never get the kind of attention by major labels as they did 20 years ago. Because of Nirvana, every other major label wanted to have a chunk of their Seattle pie, but it helped push alternative music to a place it had never been, something that would never happen in that way again. Nirvana were something long before Cobain died, and will remain that for those who put faith in their music and how they did it. Nevermind is some incredible music, and I hope people who discover it for the first time today will appreciate what it was like to hear it when it was released in 1991, same for those in 2031 who will honor its 40th anniversary.


VIDEO: Melvins live at Hellfest 2011

THE MELVINS live at Hellfest 2011 from Hellfest on Vimeo.

“If music were a religion, then may Melvins be my God” was what I said in reference to their Lysol album 20 years ago, and I meant it: they are one of my all time favorite bands. Sadly, I’ve never seen them live, outside of videos. Until I do, this video will have to do. It’s a complete set from this year’s Hellfest.

To view other performances from Hellfest, click to the festival’s Vimeo page.

DUST IT OFF: Mudhoney’s “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge”… 20 years later

Two months after the release of Mudhoney‘s Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, the world would be aurally terrorized by the sound of Seattle, and looking back, I think people were surprised by not only the sound, but that something from Seattle could sound and feel so good. But I have to backtrack a bit.

When I moved to Washington State in 1984, the first thing I wanted to know was “where’s the music at?” My family ended up living 200 miles away from Seattle, where there was nothing for a rock’n’roll kid like me. I was thirsting for music and a music scene, I grew up with uncles who loved Jimi Hendrix, a guitarist uncle who had Queensryche‘s first EP on cassette, and I was a fan of Heart. I figured that by being in a new locale, I wanted to know more. On my first true visit to Seattle, I went to Tower Records and discovered a publication called The Rocket, whom I would end up contributing to eight years later. It was filled with musicians looking for other musicians to join bands, loads of ads for everything from concerts to hot tubs with women with new wave hair and clothing. I was 13 or 14, and I wanted that, but always had to appreciate from afar.

In high school, my dream of becoming a radio DJ came true when I joined the Radio/TV production class at a vocational school. The format of the station was hard rock and heavy metal, not a problem for me. Many of my classmates, however, were into punk, a style of music I was only aware of through The Clash and Sex Pistols, which barely skimmed the surface. I lived in a town that was (at the time) straight laced, while the punk kids lived elsewhere. If I wanted to see the punks, I had to go to the town across the bridge, and in a typical high school mentality, it seemed like every one stayed amongst themselves. The radio/TV class was a say to know that I could talk and hang out with the punks, the nerds, the dorks, the jocks, and everyone else: very much to how I grew up in Hawai’i where everyone associated with everyone. This radio/TV class was the only thing that saved my high school experience from being a complete fuck-up, and I am forever thankful to everyone who was in my class and at that vocational center.

One of the reasons it saved me was reading The Rocket and ordering a record that was reviewed in a column called Sub Pop, written by Bruce Pavitt. I received my green vinyl 7″ I bought for two whole dollars with a handwritten note from singer Mark Arm. He included a free 7″ EP by a band he thought I’d like, called Melvins. To be honest, I ended up liking Melvins a lot more than Green River, even though I am a huge Green River fan. Nonetheless, this was the first time I became exposed to what was going on in Seattle in 1986, and I paid attention from that point on. I remember reading news about the collapse of Green River, and that a band called Mudhoney were making the rounds. Bassist Matt Lukin had left Melvins, something I was upset about, and I was more upset that Melvins moved down to Cali. Upset seems foolish, considering I had never met the band nor knew any of them, but it was like “wow, they have to move to Cali?” Then again, I wasn’t aware of any bands from Montesano, Washington who made it big, and I remain a Melvins fan to this day. As for Mudhoney, I first heard their music when I started buying records from Sub Pop, and liked the raw, snarky energy they had. It was distorted, loud, but most of all fun. “Touch Me I’m Sick”, “Sweet Young Thing (Ain’t Sweet No More)”, and “You Got It (Keep it Outta My Face)” became personal classics, but I think the first Mudhoney record I ever bought was their 1988 EP, Superfuzz Bigmuff. C’mon, a record named after a guitar pedal? I may not be a guitarist, but I understood its significance: they were highlighting what they felt was their sound, with a cool cover photo from Charles Peterson that showed movement, showed action, showed the electricity their music might have, and did.

The band followed it up a year later with their self-titled debut album, initial copies of which opened from the front with two panels that made it look like doors. The music was awesome, songs like “This Gift”, “Flat Out Fucked”, “Here Comes Sickness”, and “Dead Love” felt, to my 19 year old mind, grown up. I was an adult, and this sounded perfect to me. I didn’t think “ooh, collegiate, this must mean it’s music since I am of college age.” Granted I didn’t go to college (I had plans on going to the Art Institute of Seattle but regretablly did not, otherwise I might be a recording engineer/music producer with incredible credentials), but in my mind the music felt right, I loved what they were playing and how they did it, and Mudhoney became one of my favorite bands of the late 80’s/early 90’s.

At the same time, Seattle were gaining a bit of mainstream attention. Soundgarden were signed by A&M, which made the Seattle scene wonder who might be next. When Arm and Steve Turner moved from Green River to form Mudhoney, two other members of Green River would form a band called Mother Love Bone, featuring Malfunkshun vocalist Andrew “L’Andrew” Wood. They were signed to a Polydor subsidiary, and naturally all eyes looked to Mudhoney for being the next it band. England and the rest of Europe were celebrating this raw and raunchy rock’n’roll from Seattle long before the mainstream press in the U.S. paid attention or cared, so it was common for Seattle bands to tour the UK and dominate the press and airwaves. Then again, Sub Pop did have a way of marketing themselves higher (and better) than most, but regardless of how it was done, their techniques worked. Seattle was becoming what Athens, Georgia was in the early 80’s: a place to watch for in terms of college rock/underground/alternative music. People did love Nirvana, but Mudhoney had almost become unofficial ambassadors of the grunge rock movement, they were seen as leaders of the new drunken school. You also had Tad (from Boise, Idaho) on one end too, so you ended up seeing, hearing, and feeling a mess of bands who loved rock, punk, psych, and everything else to make the music bleed. Seattle always has had a healthy hard rock/heavy metal scene too, but this seemed more daring compared to the overwhelming cluster of hair metal bands who were more into their spandex than trying to play music that felt good to them. For me, Mudhoney were the it band of Seattle and I wanted more.

In June of 1991, Sub Pop mailed me an advance tape of the band’s second album, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. I was doing my own fanzine for a year called Intensity, and I was given a chance to hear this album earlier than the rest of the world, and then I was to review it, which I did. The album started out in the same loud and raw manner that their earlier music did. As a fan I loved it. As a journalist I was thinking “okay, let me see if they’ve changed, developed into something, are they trying to do something that doesn’t sound like what they did before?” Then one song after the other, it was as if the group knew of their capabilities, but wanted to try new things, and I welcomed them. “Thorn” was incredible, “Into The Drink” was silly, and then came the last song on Side 1, “Broken Hands”. It seemed more melodic, more technical, more “progressive” than what they did before, and it was a longer song, running about 6 minutes. I was sold: this was going to be my album of the year. Forget the rest of 1991, I wanted to tattoo my ass with the letter W so when I bent over and people behind me were looking, they would say “WOW”, in honor of Muhdoney.

A week or two after I received my advanced copy of the album, I heard word that Mudhoney would be playing in town. What? FUCKING MUHDONEY, PLAYING HERE? NO FUCKING WAY? I had become a part of my local music scene for about a year, interviewing and mingling with musicians who became friends, or friends who happened to be in bands. I met up with people whom had been in the scene for awhile, and welcomed me with open arms. I grew up a heavy metal kid, but learned that amongst some in the metal community, it was more about putting on an act, a facade, than anything else. It was very “poseur” and I was never someone who completey subscribed to the stereotypes of what metal meant. Then again, I had long hair that would eventually extend down to the crack of my ass and had many Anthrax T-shirts. I think what I looked for was a sense of commonality, which I did not find locally. Once I became a part of the punk scene, it was not about a look, but simply being able to be yourself. I loved that, and was able to find the kind of friendships that did not exist for me in high school. Yes it was about the music, but it was a place to call home, a true bridge towards adulthood and responsibility, and Mudhoney was part of my soundtrack. To know that Mudhoney were to play in town was massive, and I knew I had to be there. What made things worse at the time was I knew my family were going to take a family trip back home to Honolulu. Dates were set, and I thought “nooooo, I’m not going to miss Mudhoney for this.” Well, I would’ve gone back home regardless but I found out the trip was a week before Mudhoney was to arrive, so it was set.

July 27, 1991. Mudhoney found themselves performing at the Kennewick V.F.W. Hall in Kennewick, Washington, a town with a then-population of about 32,000. It’s very much a country town with an agriculture industry everywhere. I had been to the V.F.W. Hall many times before for shows, so the idea of Mudhoney playing there was odd. Mudhoney were playing fairly large clubs and venues in Europe, they were doing the same in Seattle and on both coasts. Mudhoney, in a V.F.W. Hall? The hall had a capacity of a mere 72, and I know this because I’ve seen the capacity sign many times before. Even though this is a small town, Mudhoney will fill this place up easily, right? Not a problem.

Outside, I saw some of the members of Mudhoney walking around, drinking, getting themselves ready. These were guys I had seen in magazines, on album covers and picture sleeves, and maybe in an episode of Bombshelter Videos, these were the guys from Seattle who were going to play in my hokey ass, small podunk town. I watched all of the local bands that opened up for them, but then something happened. I had heard that the headlining band did not want to play last. How in the hell are you the top band, but don’t want to play last? Apparently vocalist Arm had some issues about performing in the Tri-Cities, according to those who remember that night:

TERRY BRUCE: The lead singer refused to perform until there was Aloe Vera toilet paper in the mens room. What a tool! I remember that he relented when (World Funeral vocalist) Mike Larson. offered to “discuss” it with him in the parking lot.
BRANDON PITTS: DNC, if I remember correctly, went on last because Mark Arm was being a prima donna and had a bed time. He had a bad attitude about Tri-Cities. Thought he was in Van Halen. If they don’t sell Aloe tp, then the town is too small for Mudhoney.

Whether Arm received rolls of aloe vera toilet paper, I’ll never knew, but I remember when the lights went down, and the very packed V.F.W. Hall cheered. Magic was going to happen. At this point, I ended up on the corner of stage left where the band had piled up their bags, cases, and equipment. I remained there for their first set and sure, in my mind I’m thinking “I’m on stage with fucking Mudhoney” but I wanted to document this for my fanzine, and of course myself. I did, and when the first chord happened, it was mayhem for the next 90 minutes and I loved it.


Keep in mind that I was most likely the only person in the room, outside of Mudhoney themselves and any assistants the group brought with them, who heard their new album, so I got a first hand chance to see how fans would react to the new music. They loved it. The album wouldn’t be released for another two weeks, and if it was as if these were the Mudhoney classics. Arm, Lukin, Turner, and drummer Dan Peters were just in sync with each other and even though Arm may have had issues with the city, it didn’t look like it. Wait, I take that back. In their set, he did notice I was on stage and he looked at me as if to say “who in the fuck are you?” After their first set, they went outside for a quick drink, and it was then I decided to move onto the floor towards the right, and take a few picks of Lukin. They did a few of their classics, including “Touch Me I’m Sick”, and everyone went crazy. Then it was over. It was incredibly hot in there like a sauna, and fortunately by the time they finished, it was around 12:15/12:30am. Everyone was outside celebrating what they had just heard, people getting some smokes, drinking, etc. I went across the street to a closed gas station to get a Coke from the soda machine. I then started hearing discussions about how the cops were called. DNC, a local band, were now responsible for closing the show, and it was on this night that they brought an inflatable Black Label beer blow-up as a prop. As much as I wanted to witness this, I knew that if cops were called, DNC were not going to finish their show. I heard them play, and at that point I called for a ride home. As my transportation came to pick me up, I heard and saw DNC play, and then the cops came into the vicinity. When that happened, my transportation came to pick me up, and that section of Kennewick had people scattering into cars, heading to places unknown.

But I got to witness Mudhoney in what is still one of the best concert experiences I’ve ever had. I kept playing my Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge advance tape, eventually got the album on vinyl, and it remains my favorite Mudhoney album to this day. In the Seattle air was the knowledge that Nirvana were in L.A. to record their major label debut. Word surfaced in the winter of 1991, but no one knew what was to come of this. Would it mean more attention for the rest of Seattle’s music scene? Will Mudhoney eventually get on a major label? In time Mudhoney would be signed to Reprise Records, and the band celebrated this in The Rocket with a parody of Nirvana’s Nevermind cover, with each of them in a pool swimming towards their major label hook. It was genuine, it was real, it was true Mudhoney. The band didn’t blow up in the same way Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or Alice In Chains did, but for a short time it got their music on various TV shows and movies. The group eventually returned to Sub Pop, where they would continue to record and tour. For Mudhoney, it’s fortunate that biting a chunk of major label nuts did not weaken them in anyway, and pretty much everything they’ve recorded since Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge has been nothing short of amazing. For me, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge remains a statement of a band ready to climb in the name of good rock’n’roll. If not for the fans, very much for themselves, as if the world remained a dank, piss-smelling basement for all to smell and enjoy.


SOME STUFFS: Soundgarden harden sound for road wear

Soundgarden will be hitting the road in July, starting with a few dates in Ontario before playing the Gorge at George in Washington State. Say hello to them and rock out with your socks out. The tour will have different bands opening up for them, some of the groups you may be seeing include: The Meat Puppets, Mastodon, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Mars Volta, and Coheed and Cambria, a good way to listen to some nice hard rock with voices of trolls. If you have a sense of humor, you would’ve laughed.

July 2 Toronto, ON
July 3 London, ON
July 5 Ottawa, ON
July 6 Uncasville, CT
July 8 Newark, NJ
July 9 Wantagh, NY
July 10 Mansfield, MA
July 12 Fairfax, VA
July 13 Philadelphia, PA
July 14 Atlantic City, NJ
July 16 Chicago, IL
July 18 Morrison, CO
July 21 San Francisco, CA
July 22 Inglewood, CA
July 23 Las Vegas, NV
July 27 Calgary, AB
July 29 Vancouver, BC
July 30 George, WA

OPINION: Kurt Cobain & Layne Staley, in passing

The anniversary of two respected Seattle musicians/singers made me think of how close-knit things were in the music scene in the early 1990’s.

I became a Washingtonian in 1984, when my mom moved us from Honolulu to be closer to her sister. I thought we would be moving to Seattle, but we found ourselves 200 miles to the East, crop circles and fields that looked like they hadn’t been watered in years. Culture shock? Yes. But it was the music that pulled me through.

For four years, it seemed Seattle’s creative community struggled with the deaths of some of its contributors:

  • People were cheering for Mother Love Bone to become the next it band for Seattle, when vocalist Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose, a few days before he was to make his debut as a major label artist. I remember being in New York City for the New Music Seminar and seeing posters for their album, APPLE, and thinking it was odd. But that was the “business”, to be able to milk that dollar even though the singer was dead for four months.
  • Writer/poet Steven Jesse Bernstein may not have been someone who wrote for everyone, but he was not the people’s poet. But his work was rough, dark, and full of sharp edges and was someone who gained a lot of respect not only among Seattle musicians but people in the city who were into writing and the spoken word. Bernstein killed himself in the fall of 1991 at the age of 40.
  • Stefanie Sargent was the guitarist of 7 Year Bitch, and a band whose music I liked a lot. I had plans on meeting Stefanie and some of the other members of the group when they were going to be at the Beastie Boys show at the Moore Theater in May (where the Fu Schnickens and Big Chief opened) but I was not able to find them. Sargent died a month later.
  • Mia Zapata was the vocalist of The Gits, a group who were not originally from the city but had migrated to the Pacific Northwest with friends who were also in other groups. I loved their music, loved her voice and lyrics, and even admitted this to the group during a phone interview. They played in my town on July 3rd, a holiday weekend, and unfortunately I was too chickenshit to say hello to her, yet I found out from their drummer that Mia wanted to meet with me and say thank you for my kind words. Four days later, Zapata was attacked and killed, the story of which gained national attention soonafter.

    My connection with any of them was simply as a music fan, but as a music journalist, I’d talk with these bands, publicists, even hung out in their stinky ass vans not as a fanboy, but because they were music fans too, there was no issues over things that didn’t matter. Most bands simply wanted enough money to pay for gas to their next gig, some extra beer, and a meal. Any extra money made would be split and maybe they could buy some cigarettes.

    One year after the other, someone from Seattle’s vibrant scene had passed away and at the height of the Lamestain movement known as grunge, it kept on going but with little to know fanfare outside of the scene. Then 1994 happened.

    When Kurt Cobain died, that may have pulled the plug on the national spotlight for Seattle’s music scene. Maybe not completely, but now there were were no forced heroes to worship, and Cobain was not a hero. He was a guy who loved music, did some drugs, played guitar, and liked to fuck shit up in his own way. It’s odd to think that this isolated kid who hung out under bridges in Aberdeen, Washington an now be heard in Nirvana blocks on the radio every day, when most of the bands he grew up admiring never received airplay to the right of the radio dial. Nirvana were great, but even Cobain would’ve told you that he was not the only musician or band worthy of attention. This is exactly why major labels signed everyone from Mudhoney to Hammerbox, Sweetwater to Tad. I mean fricken Tad from Boise, the lumberjack big man who did songs about getting a Kool-Aid buzz and riding cars into frozen waters while drunk on Jack Daniels and Pepsi.

    A lot of the music from that era is great because it meant something to me then, or at least it offered timestamps to what I was doing, what I wasn’t doing, and what I hoped to do, even though half the time I was making shit up as I went along. If I was a bit wiser, I would’ve done a lot more, but I was hustling at shows wanting to write, let limited myself to the constraints of a small town in Southeast Washington. Yet when I visited Seattle (and I did a lot), they’d welcome me as if I was family. I’d walk into the slophole that was Sub Pop Records, with old kung fu movies painted on canvas with loads of publicity packets, CD’s, records, and boxes of unknown origin, hidden in what felt like a basement somewhere on First Street. One of their publicists told me that if I wanted to talk with her, I should bribe her with chocolate. I went to Uwajimaya and bought a box of Hawaiian Host chocolate covered macadamia nuts. I visited Sub Pop, and said publicist wasn’t there. Those were good times.

    My reason for writing this? Nothing other than to share memories. Music is so deep and diverse that it’s sad that people will know of the anniversary of Cobain’s death and only listen to Nirvana. You had Screaming Trees from Ellensburg, Seaweed from Tacoma, Beat Happening from Olympia, the Mono Men from Bellingham, Melvins from Montesano (who eventually said “fuck this” and moved to L.A.), Motherload from Spokane, and incredible groups like Gas Huffer, Coffin Break, Positive Greed, Fitz Of Depression, Girl Trouble, Imij, Dickless, and so many others who were able to kick people in their faces with music. With every forced leader of a movement, there are scenes that didn’t want to be a scene in the first place, just a group of men and women who wanted to rock, drink, smoke or sniff something, and make people happy. So look into these bands, and look into any independent/underground scene in your city or region. Listen and have a good time.

  • BANDCAMP SUGGESTIONS: Big Jesus’ self titled EP

    Photobucket It may look to be gospel music, but instead the big-ness of Big Jesus is on the boldness of their brand of hard rock and heavy metal, with tinges of the lost grunge movement and a punch to the gut that is undeniable. Put together elements of Helmet, Unearth, and My Sister’s Machine and you’ll have a feel for what these guys are able to do on this, a 4-song EP. I love the slide guitar work in “Apecave”, and while this would sound very home in Seattle, Big Jesus hail from Atlanta, thus the Southern rock influences within their loud brutality all makes sense.

    VIDEO: Trailer for forthcoming Foo Fighters documentary

    Ever dreamed of seeing North Richland’s own Nate Mendel on the big screen? You now can with a documentary film on the ultra-rockers known as Foo Fighters. Foo Fighters: Back And Forth, directed by James Moll, has nothing to do with Cameo or Aaliyah and there’s a small chance that if you are a Foo Fighters fan, you may not know what I’m referring to. It doesn’t matter, what you’re reading this for is to find out more about this Foo doc. All you have to do is click play on the trailer.

    Like most music films/docs as of late, it will not be widely distributed but if it plays locally/regionally, please go to it. Since bassist Mendel is from the area I currently live in, I’m hoping it will open here.