A Brief History Of The Seattle Sound

author: GrungeBeatle date: 01/29/2007 category: the history of

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I originally began writing this article with the intention of showing how the bands Pearl Jam and Soundgarden came to be, but with the 'incestual' nature of the Seattle scene, that became almost impossible to do without including every Seattle band from 1980 to the present day. So what follows is a very bare bones history of the evolution and collapse of the Seattle sound. I use the word incestual because many of the bands coming from Seattle in the early 1990's were the results of a decade of inbreeding among the bands before them. I started with the year 1980 because that is as far back as I could trace many bands before becoming completely irrelevant. These three bands were Malfunkshun, The Ducky Boys, and Mr. Epp and the Calculations. All of these bands contributed key members to the future grunge genre: Andrew Wood from the glam rock band Malfunkshun, Mark Arm from Mr. Epp, and Steve Turner and Stone Gossard from Ducky Boys. Steve Turner left Ducky Boys to join Mark Arm with Mr. Epp which was considered by them to be more of a joke then a band, although they did share the bill with Malfunkshun several times. Steve and Stone would eventually reunite along with Stone to create the first band considered to be grunge, Green River. The line-up of Green River also included future Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament. Around 1985, Steve Turner left Green River and was replaced by guitarist Bruce Fairweather. It was also around this time that Chris Cornell and Hiro Yamamoto formed a band called Soundgarden. Another band from around 1985 called Skin Yard was created this year. This band included Matt Cameron who joined Soundgarden in 1986 and Jack Endino who produced several records for Sub Pop including Nirvana's Bleach. Mad Season and Screaming Tree's member Barrett Martin also joined and left Skin Yard as well. Green River finally disbanded in 1987 and Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Bruce Fairweather along with Malfunkshun's Andrew Wood went on to form Mother Love Bone while Mark Arm joined Steve Turner and former Melvins bassist Matt Lukin and drummer Dan Peters. Peters also played briefly for Love Battery along with Bruce Fairweather and Jason Finn of the band President's of the United States. Alice in Chains was also formed in 1987 by Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley. Mother Love Bone almost became the band to bring the Seattle scene into the mainstream but lead singer Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose in 1990. This year was a very transitional time for the Seattle scene, many of the more famous bands were just being created and changing their line-ups. To get a good cross section of what was big in the northwest at this time, listen to the soundtrack from Cameron Crowe's Singles. This movie was about the Seattle scene, but was made before any bands made it big, it even features two tracky by Pearl Jam when they were known as Mookie Blaylock. As a tribute to Andrew Wood, former Mother Love Bone members Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard joined by Soundgarden's Matt Cameron and Chris Cornell formed Temple of the Dog with Mike McCready and had a featured vocalist by the name of Eddie Vedder. Pearl Jam was formed at the same time, consisting of Vedder, Ament, McCready, Gossard, and Dave Krusen. Krusen was replaced by Matt Chamberlain before the release of their debut album Ten. Chamberlain left soon after to join the Saturday Night Live band but suggest drummer Dave Abbruzzese. Screaming Trees' singer Mark Lanegan recorded a solo album with the help of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. Nirvana's secondary guitarist Jason Everman joined Soundgarden this year but left the band later that year to persue a solo project then jioned the Army 2nd Ranger's Battalion and served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nirvana's Nevermind hit number 1 in 1991 and thrusted the Seattle scene into the spot light along with Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger, despite the fact that Pearl Jam's Ten and Alice in Chain's Facelift had come out a year earlier. Alice in Chain's released Sap, an EP, which featured the another 'supergroup' called Alice Mudgarden which featured Mark Arm, Chris Cornell, and Ann Wilson of Heart and the Lovemongers. Mad Season, another supergroup, was formed in 1994 by Alice in Chain's Layne Staley, Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, and Screaming Trees Barrett Martin and Mark Lanegan. They also featured John Baker Saunders. By 1995, grunge began to decline in popularity. Many of the bands were beginning to lose audiences and dissolve, and the death of Kurt Cobain a year earlier almost symbolized the end of an era. Despite this, many of the musicians from these bands went on to greater things. Dave Grohl and Pat Smear of Nirvana went on to form the Foo Fighters with members of Sunny Day Realestate, No Use For a Name, and Scream. Chris Cornell formed Audioslave with members of Rage Against the Machine. Krist Novoselic formed Eye Adrift with Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets and Bud Gaugh of Sublime. The punk band No WTO Combo was formed by former Dead Kennedy's member Jello Biafra with Krist Novoselic, and Soundgarden's Kim Thayil. Pearl Jam is still staying strong and is back to the original Temple of the Dog line up with Matt Cameron on the drums once again. Mudhoney and the Melvins still hold a cult following and despite the death of Layne Staley in 2002, Alice in Chains continues to tour with William DuVall of Comes With the Fall. I once again apologize for not going in depth more with this article on each band and the members within them, but the article would have been ridiculously long and drawn out. But if you have any question or comments feel free to do so. ~GrungeBeatle
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