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P 3. Revolution Will Not Be Televised


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January 2012

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Seattle K u r t C O B A I N .

Seattle Reign

Rise and The Fall

of Seattle Grunge

‘SO WHAT PROMPTED SO MANY SEEMINGLY NICE KIDS TO PICK UP GUITARS AND LOSE THEIR MINDS? SIMPLE: BOREDOM. YEARS BEFORE GRUNGE, STARBUCK AND MICROSOFT HIT THE AREA, SEATTLE WAS MERELY A SLEEPY SUBURB OF BOEING, WITH PLENTY OF NATURAL BEAUTY BUT LITTLE IN THE WAY OF QUALITY ENTERTAINMENT.’ ‘To someone unfamiliar with Seattle, it might seem strange that nearly all the great grunge(...) came from the same general area. But Seattle's cozy, communal city, the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbors, and the same 100 people show up at nearly every rock gig.’

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Its' one of the most instantly recognizable videos from the Nineties: In a smoke-filled basketball gym, tattooed form twirl their pompoms, while a dirty blonde guitarist with unwashed hair and a striped sweater strums vociferously at his black and white Stratocaster. Even without the scenes of the crowd moshing hysterically, a janitor swaying back and forth, or even shots of the other two band members, everyone with cable TV should be able to identify the clips as Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”by the january 1992, the video was being played constantly on MTV, and the song could be heard everywhere – on the radio in record stores even from buskers on street corners. Within days, Nirvana would replace Michael Jackson for the top slot on the Billboard album chart. A new era had dawned, and teen spirit was running rampant. Grunge has been transformed from a small regional scene to a global phenomenon, and the entire music industry was about to mutate into a beast that would turn is back on slickly produced pop and lam metal in favor of ragged, swampy noise that emphasized emotional intensity over technical proficiency. Before long, Seattle bands including Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains would join Nirvana at the top of the charts, and high-fashion outlets like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's would start producing grunge clothing lines.

pened , it didn't hap the as w ge n u gr To sive as ars to evolve. ene But as explo g. It took ye sc an c B si u ig B m e that a like th seem strange took place in a t h ig m it , outsider d force agnitude an Seattle. with such m removed as r fa d an e iv rvat ged the city as conse grunge chan w o h d an st derstand But to under essary to un ec n 's it y, it un s chief t in which it music comm en m n ro vi . en were weaned the musical contributor ra ltu l cally been a cu e ri to is h 't n as h d fortune hav Since Seattle eking fame an i Hendrix se st ti ar , ca Mec sewhere Jim emigrated el its mark traditionally Heart made , n o d n o L ad to d in ueensryche h was discovere Q d an a, ad r, Can ey were pe before th in Vancouve ro u E in s d cians rock go , local musi lt be declared su re a s A g fun, ome. accepted at h y had to settle for havin id, generall e getting la , and mayb am e st ming ff o g lettin pes of beco o h al re d bore re seemed to but few har of this, the se u ip. ca e B s. musiciansh ar rock star ll e st r fo d nee le garage rock be no great f sloppy Seatt o n p io it ad tr The when a grou in the Sixties an t, n eg b re ly ve al re actu an ir arted playing music that st s ic n o S e e of called th energetic styl of thrashy and after, a host n o punk. So ed p w o o sh ad p u sh fore tting tfits began se u o a g ed n d ti in ea like-m and cr l over town, al ts e er en w em es as lv in b t themse at no one bu at furious din th ly to hear. The trend th like

in the rehearsal room longer than they might have otherwise, and it's certainly contributed to the genre's break, cynical lyrics. Anyway what better way to deal with frustration than to pick up a guitar and scream?

The nation economywas at nearly an all-time l o w .

Students were graduating from college and Most Seattle grungologists agree that the Melvins finding that, if they were lucky, they could are the missing link that united Seattle's punk and maybe find employment at the elevator music company Musak, or at Boeing, unless metal primates (which may come as surprise to they wanted to go off into the country to pick those who thought Tad was so big and hairy that apples, that is. he just had to be the bond between punk monkey and metal misanthrope). Their slow, sludgy riffs To someone unfamiliar with Seattle, it might sounded like Black Sabbath at half speed, and seem strange that nearly all the great grunge were their subversive countenance appealed to true on the same label (Sub-Pop) and came from the same general area. But Seattle's cozy, communal non-conformists in the community. Although city, the kind of place where everyone knows their the Melvins weren't terribly popular, and never neighbors, and the same 100 people show up at even performed much live, they were hugely nearly every rock gig. In the early days of grunge, influential. In fact, Kurt Cobain and Soundgarden's the music scene was friendly and unified. Since have both credited the band with helping shape in no one expected to achieve stardom there wasn't Chris Cornell their sound. any of the backstabbing and deceit so common with bands in areas like Los Angeles and New But while the Melvins plated the seeds of grunge, York. At one point or another, nearly every it was a little band called Green River that strarted musician ha jammed with or been in a band with the grunge family tree in the mid Eighties, everyone, and there was a Composed of Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Jeff genuinely positive spirit about the scene. Ament and Stone Gossard, Green River played There's been plenty of debate over whether grunge a vibrant form of theatrical rock that mixed derives from punk or heavy metal, but the truth is, the music collectively fuses both music forms. punk bluster with the aesthetics of glam and the Nirvana, Pearl Jam and especially Soundgarden dynamics of metal. Their second recording was used to argue that they were heavy, but not metal, one of the first releases on the fledging label Subyet their sound was unmistakably influenced by Pop, and its appearance heralded the beginning of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Motorhead. something big. Sure,

e - a - fu c k ” v i g d l u o c th e “Iattitude and introspective lyrics were manifested from alt-punks like Ramones, Dinosaur Jr and Husker Du, but the “chunka-chunka” rhythms told a different story. In fact, Seattle grunge bands were so metal that by the time Nirvana had released their third album, In Utero Utero , one-time metalheads had basically discarded the music they held so dear to embrace this new, vibrant form of noise. Suddenly, bands like Guns' N' Roses, Ratt and Mitley Crue became an anachronism. They were singing about celebration and escapism, and when Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden came along, audiences realized that it's better to confront emotional pain than ignore it. Listeners discovered a sensitivity and insecurity in grunge music that they could empathize with. No longer were rock stars putting up an impenetrable wall of bravado. They were letting down their guards, expressing their vulnerability and admitting that, like the rest of us,they were scared geeks and “losers”.


Well, in its purest form it's definitely grunge music and it's sounds like it's been splattered with s cunge, but a catch p hrase, it’s somewhat limiting.

As a general guideline, grunge music is stomply, swampy and ultradistorted, and is perhaps best typified by early Mudhoney or Soundgarden. Picture a supergroup made up of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Black Sabbath and the Stooges, and you're pretty close.

Grunge is angry and filled with attitude but it rarely lacks melody.

Nirvana and Tad, who both formed that year. Alice in Chains

to achieve true rock stardom. Frontman Andrew Wood was

linked up in 1987 as well, but they started out as a commercial

a passionate singer and natural ham, and when the group

glam metal band, and their early material owed mire to

performance and the band's classic rock chops, which

Queen and Queensryche than to the Melvins or Green River.

were less noisy and more hooky than those of Nirvana,

Before long, the grunge buzz started to spread. Tiny clubs like

Tad or Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone seemed poised for

the Vogue, Squid Row and Central Tavern started booking

greatness. But Wood’s career was short-lived, and when

shows by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and Mother

he died of a heroin overdose in 1990, the task fell on an

Love Bone, as well as lesser known acts including Skin Yard

ambivalent Nirvana to become Seattle’s hometown heroes.

(which featured Seattle producer Jack Endino), the Fluid, and Blood Circus. But, at that point the movement was still underground. When Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain smilingly and ironically wrote in Nirvana's first bio, “We want to cash in and suck butt up to the bigwigs in hopes that we too can get high and fuck wax figure hot babes… Soon we will do encores of “Gloria” and “Louie Louie” at benefit concerts with all our celebrity friends,” a cult entity for years, if not for the rest of his music career, two words which at the time seemed like an oxymoron. Interestingly, grunge originated in Seattle, but didn't catch on in America until after it became the talk of the town Britain. Realizing that numerous U.S. Acts including Hendrix, Blondie and Faith No More generated interest in England before making waves in America, Sub Pop spent money they didn't really have to fly Melody Maker journalist Everett True to Seattle to check out Mudhoney, Tad and Nirvana, and true returned raving about grunge. Melody Maker's vehement praise had a ripple effect across the European press, and after the three bands were sent to London for a brief tour, world domination wasn’t far away. Superfuzz Bigmuff spent a year on the U.K. Indie chart, and the label's seminal compilation sub pop 2,000, which featured

Soundgarden, Tad, SOUNDGARDEN, TAD, Nirvana, Mudhoney, Beat Happening and Screaming trees, was referred to by Radio One guru, John Peel, as a document of the most important regional music scene since Motown. Before long, the American press started to catch on, and after Nirvana released its outstanding Bleach (recorded for a mere $606), Tad and Nirvana embarked on a rigorous, riotous tour that spread the gospel of grunge across the land. Once music fans wrapped their ears around the writhing rhythms and agonized vocals of Bleach, it became obvious that Nirvana would be the first Sub Pop band to break. But area pundits believed Mother Love Bone would be the band



Then a slew of bands from other regions started

playing grunge, figuring, “Gee, why relocate to Seattle to cash in, when I can do it in my own backyard?”

Pretty soon, bands like Stone Temple Pilot, Our Lady Peace, Sponge, Everclear, Silverchair, Verve Pipe and Bush entered the picture. But while these bands were able to approximate the volume and aggression of the Seattle sound, they lacked authenticity. They hadn’t grown up with the progenitors of the movement or watched the scene evolve from a cult to a phenomenon. They hadn’t know or shared jokes with Andrew Wood, Kristen Pfaff or Kurt Cobain while they were still alive, or created side project records with their neighbors. In short, they lacked the camaraderie that united the Seattle grunge community. On April 1, he escaped the unit, telling staffers there that he was going outside to smoke a cigarette. Seven days later, he was found in a room a self inflicted wound to the head. Cobain’s death shell-shocked the world, but devastated the Seattle music community. When grunge broke, Seattle rock and roll was supposed to be a celebratory dream, a never-ending party where everyone left drunk and wealthy the dream turned into a nightmare, and suddenly the community sobered up enough to realize the party was no longer worth the cover charge.

After nirvana released its o u t s t a n d i n g bleach recorded for a mere 6 0 6 dollars.

Nirvana embarked on a rigorous,

riotous tour that spread the gospel of grunge across the land.

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It’s just too simplistic.

Had Cobain known he might have stuck to around bask in long the enough


Co b a in ' s d e a t h

shell-sh ocked the world, but devastat ed the S eattl e music community

When grunge broke, Seattle rock and roll was supposed to be a celebratory dream, a never-ending party where everyone left drunk and wealthy the dream turned into a nightmare, and suddenly the community sobered up enough to realize the party was no longer worth the cover charge. Weeks after C o b a i n 's suicide, Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff died of a heroin overdose. Almost immediately, bands began distancing themselves from the beast they had created. Sub Pop started signing eccentric bands like Combustible Edison and Red Red Meat, which were far removed from grunge. Pearl Jam

stopped doing press and became more political, engaging in a fullthrottle battle with Ticketmaster. Alice in Chains released albumbefore dropping out of sight without to support the record, and Soundgarden started to evolve out of their dense, muddy sound, towards something more melodic and otherworldly.



Just like witches at black masses Evil minds that plot destruction Sorcerers of death's construction In the fields the bodies burning As the war machine keeps turning Death and hatred to mankind Poisoning their brainwashed minds

Oh lord yeah!

Why should they go out to fight?


Generals gathered in their masses +

Ozzy Ozbourne Tony Iommi

Politicians hide themselves away They only started the war

Geezer Butler Bill Ward

Why should they go out to fight?

- yeah!

They leave that role to the poor Time will tell on their power minds Making war just for fun Treating people just like pawns in chess


Wait 'till their judgement day comes


Now in darkness world stops turning

Ashes where the bodies burning

No more war pigs have the power

Hand of God has struck the hour

Day of judgement, God is calling

On their knees the war pig's crawling

Begging mercy for their sins

Satan laughing spreads his w i n g s

C H O O S E .





Y O U R .










































. F U T U R E.

a n a v r i N


macho stereotype imposed on young males in Aberdeen. He had no use for hunting, sports or other"manly"pursuit, although he did enjoy getting high withthe local stoners.

". Amisfit within the institution called Rock and Roll. Cobain personified the anxieties and frustations of this generation. His death-at 27, of an apparently self-inflicted wound to the head with a 12-gauge shotgun-has saddened everyone who follows moder rock. Althoug almost universallyassociated with Seattle, he wasactually from Alberdeen, Washington, a small, economically depressed logging town more than 100miles from Seattle. "White trash posing as middle class", is how Cobain described his background to biographer Michael Szerrad in the latter's Come As You Are:The Story of Nirvana. By all acconts, Kurt was deeply and permanently hurt by his parent's divorce. After the split, he never really had a stable childhood home. At school he was diagnosed as hyperactive and given the drug Ritalin. He dropped out in the 12th grade. Cobain didn't fit the

broken up for years and i didn't kwon

would eventually be called Nirvana. (cobain

But Cobain's sense of kinship with his age group went beyond music:"My story is exactly the same as 90 percent

Early in 1988, cobain, Novoselic and drummer Dale Crover journey to seattle to make a demo at Reciprocal recording studios with engineer

it...Same thing with Led Zeppelin".

into the Beatles , the Beatles had been

High, teamed up to form the nucleus of a band had wanted to call it Skid Row at one point).

that's been the case, because when i got

rock when it was triving. All my life,

bassist krist Novoselic, a friend from Aberdeen

Matter, did not last long. But in 1986, he and

"We're a perfect example of th ee average average uneducat ed "twentysomething" in America extraordinarily powerful effect on the masses. n America in the Nineties". Cobain started writing songs soon after picking Cobain told Michael Azerrad. "[We're] up the guitar. His first band, a trio called Fecal punk rockers who weren't into punk

later become known as grunge and have an

could see where Nirvana fit in.

wastelands of a place like Alberdeen, he

combination of heavy metal and early-Eighties punk (black Flag, Flipper, etc.) that would

indie labels. But coming from the rural

championed by Sub Pop and similiar

broader than the noisy alternative fare

Cobain's musical tastes, were quite a bit

first album, Bleach, came out on Sub Pop.

a big hit with "venus". A year later, Nirvana's

the early-Seventies Dutch group that had had

cover of an obscure song by Shocking Blue,

Nirvana released its first single,"Love Buz." a

11, 1988, with chad channing now on drums,

demo led to a deal with Sub Pop, and on June

highly influential indie label, sub pop. The

jack Endino, an important figure at the city's

logo on his bedroom wail. But it is precisely that

hat i have got Maiden records or drawing the Led Zeppelin i do not want w

importance can be found music in the way Nirvana's Nevermind booted Michael Jackson He was harassed at high school for befriending a gay student. In later life, he would speak out vehemently off the charts in 1991, singnaling the end of the Eighties and ushering in the style of raw. against homophobia, sexism and racism. guitar-heavy, blunt-spoken rock that so far has When punk rock finally made its way out to dominated this decaded. Alberdeen, sometime in the early Eighties, But Nirvana's enormous sucess was something Cobain embraced it eagerly, years later, that Cobain never sought and certainly never comfortable with. As he declared in the sardonic kurt would be embarrassed when relatives or "Radio Friendly Unit shifteg"(In Utero), " childhood friends recalled him jamming to Iron

As the leader of Nirvana, Kurt cobain set the tone for rock music in the Nineties. Considerable symbolic


Another key person who entered the Nirvana circle around this time was their new drummer, Dave Grohl Dave Grohl. An explosive , hard-hitting stickman, Grohl took Nirvana's sound to new level of intensity. He joined the band just in time for their signing to Geffen Records, a deal that was faciliated to a large degree by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, who had recently signed with the label. Cobain, Novoselic and Grohl teamed up with producer Butch Vig to record what was to become a landmark rock album, 1991's Nevermind.

On the band's first European tour, a grueling, low-budget trek with the band tad, cobain had what Sub Pop co-owners Bruce Pavitt has described as a nervous breakdown on stage in Rome, storming off stage, climbing into the rafters and screaming at the audience. Adding considerably to Cobain's unhappiness was his chronic, undiagnosable stomach pain, which began shortly after his move to Olympia and would torture him for the rest of his life.

of everyone my age," he said. "Everyone's parents got divorced. their kids smoked pot all through high school, they grew up during the era when there was a massive Communist threat and everyone's thought they were going to die from a nuclear war. And everyone's personalities are practically the practically the same".


an ize r


But Kurt's life wasn't complety dark . In 1990, Cobain began a relationship with Tobi Vail, of the band Bikini Kill, a leader in the radical feminist riot grrrl movement. He apparently took his relationship seriously; by all accounts, he wasn't much of a casual



Shortly before the death, it was reported that Nirvana planned to break up. In his suicide note, Cobain said, "I haven't felt excitement in listening to as well as creating music for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things". The note goes on to thank Nirvana's fans for their "letters and concern during the last years". Among the many ironies associated with this brilliant artist's short, sad life is that while he was unable to conquer his own intense pain, his music help millions of fans deal with theirs.

always insisted that he became a serious heroin user of his own accord, because it was the only thing that see His description of this pain to Azerrad proved tragically prophetic: "Halway through [Nirvana's last] European tour, i remembre saying. "I'll never go on tour again until i have this fixed' because i wanted to kill myself. I wanted to blow my head off, i was so tired of it".

The months following the release of Nevermind were turbulent ones for cobain. Not only were there the pressures of sudden, massive stardom to cope with, but he also entered into two relationships that were to have a profound effect on him. One was with Courtney Love , longtime punk scenester and splashy frontwoman for the group Hole. The other was with heroin. Cobain and Love first met at a Nirvana club gig in 1989, but didn't become serious about each other until "91, after Kurt had moved to Los angels to record Nevermind. Love was often often blamed for introducing Cobain to heroin, but had experimented with the drug as early as his Alberdeen days.

Cobain worked notoriously fast as a lyricist. He'd write the words to his songs in the car on the studio or even a few seconds before having to record a final vocal, but the unstudied , hasty quality of this lyrics are part of their expressiveness. His songs are like action paintings-kinetic, disconnected bursts of angry energy.

", became an instant anthem. It is a showcase for the kind of expressive mood swings that were a trademark of Cobain's guitar playing, songwriting and personality. tune is a brilliant evocation of volatile emotions, with its sullen, world-weary verses that explode into abrasive power chording for the choruses.

smells like Teen Spirit

The dise's first single, "

med to quell the terrible pain in his stomach.

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nition, out of reach.

. l o o c w as

ryone ocracy, eve m e d f o e am at, in the n d into decided th ry st u d transforme in g re e n w ti s e ve rk a li f our daily 90's, the m ories. ils details o the early 19 ta e in d e st m ie stlyle access ti e n fe ti m li e so th , t n a e h th T d so it was be cool. An to t h g ri had the

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s analysis, a e l t t i l o t t jec s been sub onstruct. a c h n g n i u s e G d y r Ra ce o dia presene mainstream converged in r e m r e h art directo t i th e that fuele alism and


b y d e rne s David By i g Carson 's work on n Ray Gun

t n rn suggests treat d televisio n to a Design jou d s e e d n n zi te a ent h s, mag nowhere orable asc newspaper med from r on's inex s fo , r r e ya ll n g C fu si d a David o other de it explode epts that n . If Ray-Gun's as though c e n r u p G n g ya si t R ed f de with a set o ams, had ever imagin elebratory . equipped e c r h d c st su e d each t all in er wil a b h y f r r o o s to e is is h h su is in x pre ck as the si . granted a ly as far ba design was n tor o c e d e ir d d n t as ar it exte le ic h even ve s u accounts, gun as an previo y's a n R so , r h a g C u as MTV, , tho culture, the shape nomenon e in h r p so l r a r u c u e pr may “on a level beyond As a cult immediate radicalism a t t 's n n a c u g ifi yn a g R h t, w in o , more si p words that bypasses e rather this vantag er all. O r n o t s o m u c h seen from ft a l a ic d a r so r rational ign is n of not appea he des ositio t p s t n u f a o o r b t a m e u l h i a t d ic centres of the brain h tic me ent as is rad o catc he sta c cont t t i s y o l n t c i i s r int and goes straight vice rant d the ual de ggles f ter an u p d n televis s print stru m a o n so e c a red by Car to the part that ith th print, ation offe c dly framed pete w ifi te a m st e o ju p e c e r h , T d lt . n su e a n r – sa ee up –y MTV's u gn were, a TV scr TV ic'sit if yeM n d e r s ta n d s w i t h o u t gun's desi c it c yp a ifi c s R e e r sp th d fo andan other rs, ran 's –– e n d e a e e r r sc n u e g p f th nda. Rayad grown u in terms o th in k ing ” on and age on' they h ti ti c ay a a w r sf e e n ti m e sa g so r viewe een in e 'MTV b th d a to h s g in n a br elo rocess ers, their mantra, b e able to p r and teenag e w id k y e s a th it , nce eration with the experie on” than earlier gen eign to y b ons, was to ” d e ir “rew ne d r's promoti or what its rmati lo ie a fo rl t a in le e “ s f t, it o p e r e cc , from fe quality, oaching much high and they wouldn't a MTV's aim rger then li weird edge”. But thing appr e la le a m d g so n a in r h e th ff ld “ cou idn't o give every er called a false hing that d sity and excitement. ing manag m ved to be a m ro p ra read, anyt d g n 1, n te ro 8 a p in 19 n f o u in t – it g h ls t, g u y ve ri le deb ok ys that Ra television a e channels ge didn't lo w a , th e n im o th ne to ir ti to a n a e d – v ser etwe b b V's on stile an o T s d l in M e te . l se i l o rt s a a cl r st h to other a muc close pa rethinking to formal, ences. In y Gun and sses i fter a total a as to stiff, d There are A w R . u n a n o “shitty” r o si i k vi e r le wo d th ypa e 's nal te b doned for g o n t n a ti a g a o b n s n a r th ve e a n re e V C … co w t MT ghts nd veejays ggests tha ond words y u anished, a to phoney” li e s b “ t b e t, h re l h n g e e i g r w v a y ri e rs b l B tr y made mpte David and goes s s earlier, cate “on a pts. If the i g, tele-pro n ri n i in sc u a e r tn m h b th g m e d li o n look u ntres of th inking”. Twelve year g Stone, projects c to adlib aro cause mistakes would g e c ld l to a n re o e w ti e b l, ra g to Rollin thout th ile,” Rollin at was fine the logica tle wh mistakes th rstands wive Bob Pittman, speakinto explain the it e l d n a nally u t k a too uti is ut MTV fi e uage b c It g “ “ n n , l. ie la d a d r the part th te u a re a MTV exec o il m re dio that evy n rikingly si rs: “our co signed stu oll. 's Steven L e r e d n & ll to k e c S w had used st f grabbing its viewe o a r – gether, and ay o t it wanted g casually thrown to p on a up on TV h w w e t r g y. o g ll o station's w a h n u w e somethin d like it was made on babies e is emotio ) n looked lik m u can mak the televisi u e yo like a so l th t d a a e e e e k p th c a p o r a r gest at p g, (m anthe th p in t t o a g ip m r s r n sc The stron fo o oti n ironclad ...” get their em got'em.” the spot, a f events If you can e 'v , you m chain o ic o g d n lo a r ir e et th


the logical,


24/25 ce i o h c y b w a R


t it – tement pu a st n o si is mily sue m bbles ad fa as a first-is ri , sc ” n s, g si m e e d o ough ist p ve by esign (th se of Dada d “ alternati ca n it i ct su e je a e b r h o designed ed a deg s, as thoug hich its lish with w was a highly gerously spontaneou ll. Y o u d i d n ' t n e re It l . ta iding rt a ru st b e e n fonts. Coll they fe ost da njoy th from th d e t re lm le e h a g to g h d n ) w ri a n n a n it m g l w t i a o tight do new rm des Ray Gun g clumped in s nes. Weird pletely info oss the ages and stuck n g , d e g r e e s i n rs li m e d a th co e o g h e n d il ri le a wh aw acr chao etti while appe homaniac g. Hand-cr urself to make words, r were g n upended p e o in e ra d b , g a e d le is v a a h th ve s h g ti h d ga together yo ar sense. And holdin photograp aders di Typos. Ne piece them the book. y Gun re to a in d R d a nd line e y h ll n u ca a m ry sothat yo meaning a ve l rt a e a e p rb k a ve r ro d fa b y te g so typograph “ART”. at oblitera ers driftin ck clouds th ly screamed the word f text. Lett la o b s g n in m n lu co threate ity that fair massed in age sensibil ll co strings or g n si si synthe ree years together: a r its first th orial fo n o ti ca li ub edit blem as a p e where its ro se p to 's n rd u a G h it ay designer In 1992, R gn so blinding made letting the d n yo e b si e e n rineman's was that a d ven whether it had o ctor Neil F ative e ir d l a ri e o r o dit ern vision lay, at sense, e cessity, Alt thing. In th e. Immediate by ne n rescient w p o n is e e h do have b choic y ld b u w a co R e “ h , t ptional clarion call s more prescient tha had an exce n o rs a C a . w e , ance, not tim by design” own at the on, for inst e cover. n si k ci e ve d a s h r' e ld th gn that he cou f print” on as the desi ntrol. It w ords “end o even w co e f th o t e ld u p re u g de tt wo n't e er's, to r sh r li a J b u tt p o r c o Marvin S the editors' n Ray Gun publisher ia attentio d d e n m a e d this r e th d f foun n press an Most o n g . u si e e g G d a y e st a th R ss e m s” of Often the pre-pr rst two years came fro gner's “interpretation er e r fo e b fs its fi desi , rath see proo received in tably enough, on the as taken for granted w not, in vi e ss e in e n , w focused servers re r how ropriate b p o p a se s e ir e th h o t. T sis, because al content, the conten ted by analy n's editori u ra ing G st sh n y a o li b R m u e and p sted in than d g re n te ti ri in w y , rl g icula inkin e design truth, part istory of th world onlookers, th h e th to raphic late nit might re eorists of g these desig r th o ic F m c. e si d u aca tionrm on popula er they were straightforward sensa th e h W t. ten stration just was the con lic demon orship, or b u th p u a ly f h o ig rm could ,h design as fo , Ray Gun was timely ental graphic design n sig hat experim seeking de even – of w n o ti a another ic d n – a vi itorial, of chance. d e e t th rs n e fi iv 's c g , Gun accomplish e that musi v ns, in Ray e g li si e ll b a l sm il st re cause if free: “ We Yet there a in fact. Be , g to break n to li g e g v a ru H st . en voiced agenda e the world rhetoric that hasn't be h any g n a h c n a ake it c form of heard, wit ople who m l.” this is a revival of a e 1960's and was last sic critics and th and the pe wil mu ce o one else h total conviction sin ay of punk. For many d agent of social n we don't, n yd a wit e e h rc e ing fo during th dical bind ra a stridency, s a ck ew of ro fans, this vi

I m m e d ia t e b y n e c e s s i t y,

A lt e rn at i v e b y d es i g n ”



f the uring o as t c a r f l V. It w he triba art by t g of MT p n n a i m n o w c o bl einema the ad been ast, by ction (F is own i e h l v n n t o o o i c n t a y , h ansform rn 1980's and sustain with an ds the end of t tical tr e r i d l a o rld righ t o o w o p o e m t w l t d s b , e o a d h an p e t s t a e c e w h v e un e in t will sa ally rej t Ray G audienc s ironic graphic design a w ogy tha l t o i e d d i “ n not an ssues) a ne's designer: r four i zi e t a f g a a t m f le y the b , e r e oes.” time th d roll d n a k c o after r



d lution an rock h the evo it es w ti l ix e S ll t a activis is a par e e th r e e k th li , TV n here again eption of MTV “u ing Stone, “the M c ll r e to sit still, l Ro critical p nction is a sceptica fu d ir te e o h n T ,” . hange the coalition essentially passive cts, not c u d o r p y is omiest coalition mmercials and bu assess it in the glo o c to play of ded watch the 980's ten its mesmerising ent of 1 e th in amming andonm rnism, el's progr tmode schizophrenic” ab tation”, would n s n a o h p c e 's th n nt, its ““ rs, MTV ounts of f represe all, mentato e perpetual prese ritical acc niverse o m u C dience at dly o l u c a .” a r e s o s ld e r it m o a h th th w , it t c to w p ti e g r o c is p x te gis sup se ing e cordin a nihil ease to re eading of MTV's c terms. Ac denial of everyth rse which creates ld u o w g to the ms is r its ist discou rld of real proble s. Pointin of Hope enged th n ll V a a surfaces, T h m c M u s h a o h ltw o libera onspiracy the real w Andrew Goodwin ere are in reality rational, tional’s C at combines wers that th a ic t ie n it a v r r c e th te r l g n a I tu r in u so enrap Amnesty eology” th . ugh, cult esthetic by suggest e Aid and Romantic rock id e of sociaolp ic c o n c e r n ” a ently, tho iv c l e L ia r s c a e r so h o a c r m l, s su ic h a t c n ss ts n ti e la n a li c s e o “ v il ock e al, ap new and ph tput of a ahistoric sponse to cause-r hin its ou ion…with r ea”.s p o n s ib il it y it w e e c r n s e l' l l st soncciaern channe the persi ns of rebseelnpsic of o discovers io h aannetwhro e c tour, he ional not n… dwpithil an beyllio “tradnits soib rileit f n io t nal rneospo


It is the product, he explains of the “coevolution” of the artistic avant-garde and mas culture – rock music, tv, films, and adversing – so that by the early 1980s, with the arrival of MTV, they were mutually supportive, exchanging “information, stylistic tendencies, narrative archetypes, and character representations”. Many of formal strategies of Avant-Pop, as defined by McCaffery, were present in Ray Gun from the start: sampling; collage principles; digressive, improvisational structures; surface textures; the seductive, information-saturated feel of advertising; the pace, surrealism and visceral impact of Punk and MTV; a painterly emphasis on the emotional and aesthetic intensity of creative act. McCaffery is surely right when he suggest that the marriage of the avant-garde a mass media is entirely logical because hyper-consumer capitalism's unquenchable demand for “the new” is exactly the same need that has always driven by avant-garde.


Ray Gun seductive play of surface is nothing if not thoroughly postmodern, but the sense that the magazine was searching for some deeper commitment strengthened in the mid-1990's. An editorial in issue 33, written by managing editor Dean Kuipers, doesn't go quite as far as Goodwin but there are clear signs that the editors are trying to rethink Ray Gun's editorial policy ad subtly re-position the title. Even before David Carson departure after 30 issues, Ray Gun had begun to embrace in its design a quieter, more reflective mood which Jarrett liked to describe as a “new simplicity”. “ n e w s i m p l i c i ty ” . Layouts were cleaner, dysfunctional typefaces thinner on the ground. This streamlining (with outbursts of the old head-banging) continued over the next ten issues following the appointment – with issue 33 – of British art director Robert Hales. The effect of cooling the design temperature was to increase the magazine's appearance of authority and consequently to put new emphasis on the writing itself: Kuipers identifies the prevailing Ray Gun message as “constructive anarchy”, with a passing nod to the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin's idea of “mutual aid”. “Rock'n'roll continues to offer the possibility of personal transformation,” he suggests, “precisely because it is not organised and not led. In fact, you might get more out of rock now, more that pertains to you personally, that ever before.” a return to ready for ip sh at is what r e d a e bout (if th un's r a G k y a in R th s a W have to refer the ou might or did it p t) a g Avantmeanins y n ti in nalism of s was h o r e ti sa ip n u se K c in Dean ve, kineti ed briefly e, seducti e succeed v a h ver y e a n m immersiv s a w un the design ics? Ray G t h p u a b r , g ” o p n g o ti P osi n or desi ent of opp rnative by e m lt u a r “ st g in in an be ry with agazine as eth centu ti m n e e th tw y e b xt used close of th the conte nd at the garde; in tn a v ta A critique a ss stic new nd of the arti tion, in a p m su n o the death er-c at wealthy arket hyp ng aimed m si ti r ss a e v m d a f o y the yle with lifest ve been. B a d h e k ld c a u p o c e they titl ver Ray Gun, erhaps ne d p e h it c , a e e c r n s audie ual idea ith which radical vis e speed w th d n a , y time these a gw ertising a very lon come adv e e b m o to c r d e a tt h end of e gu en to the ed the pag th p y b m e ju r y e e . th they w sumption how close yper-con h f o shows just e g a ney. In an their jour


In spite of the corporate makeover, downtown still rocks. Pike Place Market my be a tourist cliché, but so what? The market is still a cool place to walk watch, and buy weird unnecessary stuff(...) Back in the grunge era, one named was immortalized in a Soundgarden song,

Artis the

a tourist cliché, but so what? The market is still a cool place to walk watch, and

buy weird unnecessary stuff(...) Back in the grunge era, one named was immortalized in a Soundgarden song

S o u n d g a r d e n .

“ S p o o n m a n . ”


Feel the rhythm with your hands Steal the rhythm while you can, Spoonman Speak the rhythm on your own Speak the rhythm all alone, Spoonman


Spoonman, come together with your hands Save me, I'm together with your plan

Save me

All my friends are Indians All my friends are brown and red, Spoonman All my friends are skeletons They beat the rhythm with their bones, Spoonman

Feel the rhythm with you hands Steal the rhythm while you can, Spoonman

b i b l i o g r a p h y

H e n d e r s o n ,

T h o m p s o n , G e e ( 2 0 0 8 ) . M e s m e r i z a t i o n . L o n d o n : T h a m e s & H u d s o n .

( R 1e 9v o 9l 8u ) t . i o P rn e . s L e o nn td s o n N: i r H va a l n a l e a o nn da r td h c e o r Gp r o ur na gt e i o ,n .


J u s t i n

G u i t a r W o r l d

F i l

A s h w o r t h , C h r i s ( 1 9 9 7 ) . h Ro an yg Gk uo nn :g O: u tS i om fo n c o & n tS rc oh lu . s t e r E d i t i o n s

( 2 0 1 0 ) . S e a t t l e

B e r k e l e y ,

G r C ua nl g i f e o . r n i a : R o a r i n g F o r t i e s P r e s s

o g r a p h y

L i n k l a t e r , R i c h a r d / S l a c k e r , 1 9 9 1

B o y l e , D a n n y / T r a i n s p o t t i n g , 1 9 9 6

References C a m e r o n C r o w e C r o w e , C a m e r o n / S i n g l e s , 1 9 9 2


G u s V a n

P e a r l

S a n t

J a m


T w e n t y , 2 0 1 1

L a s t D a y s , 2 0 0 5

A J S c h a n c k / K u r t C o b a i n A b o u t a S o n , 2 0 0 6

D i s c o g r a p h y

B l e a c h

T e n


N e v e r m i n d / N i r v a n a , 1 9 9 1


N i r v a n a ,

P e a r l J a m ,

D i r t

1 9 8 9

1 9 9 1

/ I n U t e r o / N i r v a n a , 1 9 9 3

A l i c e

1 9 9 2

o f t h e d o g

i n C h a i n s ,

T e m p l e


S u p e r u n k n o w n / S o u n d g a r d e n , 1 9 9 4

T e m p l e o f t h e d o g , 1 9 9 1

Nevermind 1991  

magazine celebrating the 20 years of nevermind