Every Good Boy Deserves Grunge: Blender’s Brief Oral History Of Sub Pop

Sub Pop’s celebrating its 20th Anniversary: We told you about that and the SP20 festival. Blender did an oral and visual history titled “Going Out of Business Since 1988!” to honor the occasion. It’s not Please Kill Me-sized or on the scale of Thurston Moore and Byron Coley’s upcoming No Wave book, but it’s a fun read with bits from Chris Cornell, Lou Barlow, Mark Arm, Greg Dulli, founders Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman, the aforementioned Moore, Jack Endino, Isaac Brock, etc. A tidbit from Arm:

Cameron Crowe put Mudhoney on the Singles soundtrack, and in typical wiseass fashion, we wrote [the scene-eviscerating] “Overblown.” Were the lyrics [“And you’re up there, shirtless and flexin’/Display of a macho freak”] really inspired by a Soundgarden video? Well, Chris Cornell was taking his shirt off from day one. It just seemed kinda gross, like, I’m a good-looking model rock guy. But if I had it to show, I’d probably do it, too.

There are others.

Tad Doyle (ex-TAD frontman): It was fun and effective, but hyping me as a 300-pound lumberjack painted my band into a corner…

Greg Dulli: The Whigs moved to L.A. to work on our second record. Then the label ran out of money. Around then, Sub Pop came out with T-shirts that said WHAT PART OF “WE HAVE NO MONEY” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?, which I’m sure was pretty funny, but I got stranded in L.A. and had to get a job.

Something quite different from old Sub Pop, now Matador publicist Nils Bernstein.

The day Kurt’s body was found [April 8, 1994] was horrible. It was total media insanity. There were news crews who somehow got up to the roof deck around the penthouse and then tried to get up to the next level–literally scaling the walls of this building–so they could film inside the office. The next day there was a TV reporter hiding in the bushes at my home.

And, Arm again:

The “grunge era” got insanely absurd. The absurdist thing was that one of the main players decided to blow his head off.

Sadly, nothing on Cobain from the other guys in Nirvana. Also, there are plenty of things we already know. But, one of the fun things about oral histories — besides the joy of letting the participants tell the story — is seeing how thoughts collide with or refract with what comes before and after. Like Lou B. on the label’s mishandling of Harmacy, more about swinging on the flippity-flop, etc., placed in a newer context. James Mercer is also in there. It would be great if someone expanded this at some point and maybe tackled it as a book because it feels a bit skeletal. For now, catch it in print form in the July issue of Blender or read it here. Also, lots of great visuals.