July 27th, 2010
As much of a cultural impact Grunge music had on the world, it didn’t really last all that long, at least not in its heyday. Then again, The Beatles lasted only seven years, and Jimi Hendrix made music for only four years, and they are considered some of the most influential of all time. Sometimes all it takes is to take a chance and hope your music connects with someone, which is ironic considering the majority of grunge musicians had no aspirations to be famous; they just wanted to make music.
Grunge Seattle (written by Justin Henderson and published by Roaring Forties Press) takes a combination of all known Seattle grunge musicians and explains how the music they made came to be. It is well known that Seattle is the Mecca of all things grunge, but was it ever apparent why this was the case? What is it about this area that influenced musicians to create a style of music that, at least at the time, went completely against the grain? Henderson doesn’t just take this at face value, he does a good job explaining the history of the region, and how its pre-Microsoft isolation from the rest of the world created an atmosphere that was much less expensive to live in. One of the main reasons grunge musicians thrived in Seattle was because in the early to mid 80’s they could afford to!
There were so many bands in Seattle at the time, and it wasn’t just a hobby, it was a lifestyle! A key point of the era is that the bands supported each other. They lived together, went to each other’s shows, worked day jobs together, and evolved together. Grunge is a rare style of music that can claim self-influence. It was no secret that bands ‘borrowed’ guitar riffs and drum rhythms from each other, in fact, it was encouraged. The grunge era of Seattle really was about community and giving each other support, until eventually the music evolved to a degree that the rest of the world paid attention.
Grunge Seattle will be a treat to aficionados who have fond memories of grunge, both pre and post explosion. There are several references to ancient music clubs that don’t exist anymore, as well as thoughts from some of the impresarios of grunge: Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman of Sub-Pop records. There are also some good maps that are handy for reference to the locations of these clubs where it all happened.
If anyone wants to pick up a copy of the book, there will be a release party at Moe Bar (attached to Neumos) this Wednesday, July 28th at 8pm. Justin Henderson will be there, and if you have a story to tell, he’ll probably have a few for you as well!