ENTROPY July 2010
LORD OF THE FLIES REVIEW !
- LEGENDARY BANDS: THE MELVINS - SEATTLE AND THE BIRTH OF GRUNGE - KURT COBAIN’S ART
The birth of underground hype
‘’Seattle… is currently to the rock n’ roll world what Bethlehem meant to Christianity’’ SPIN, 1996
Known as the Emerald city, Seattle is the biggest one in the state of Washington, with 617.334 inhabitants. It is also, the birthplace of the legendary musician Jimi Hendrix and the famous coffee company Starbucks. There are definitely lots of facts about this interesting city, but today we`re analysing its music scene, and what it meant to rock ‘n’ roll’s development. In the early 80’s, Seattle didn’t attract that many musicians, in fact, they only stopped by at San Francisco, which was at that time the hot spot. The city was crowded with all types of wannabes, including singers with fake English accents. Glam metal bands were in every direction, with their big hairs and lots of eyeliner, and all the lame punk rockers used to hang out at the First Avenue, next to the donut shop. There were about two clubs for local bands to do their shows and gigs, so they rented halls and did the whole production by themselves, from doing the tickets to cleaning up the mess after the shows. Nobody was really interested in success, because Seattle didn’t have much meaning in the music scene; all the
New York. Bands played because they loved it, and there was a very familiar environment among them. The shows were everything but controlled, lots of alcohol, stage diving and chaos; this was what attracted the most to foreign bands like Scratch Acid, who were used to very critical and boring crowds. The music scene in general was considered sometimes as dumb. Some of the people who belonged to bands admitted themselves as losers or high school bullied freaks. They didn’t care much about what people said, and that was the fun part of it.
By the end of the 80’s, people just started to dislike glam metal bands; they wanted real music and not just pretty looking boys and guitar solos. On the contrary, the typical Seattle bands were sometimes qualified as inconsistent, because none of the bands followed a determined structure in their gigs. The singer could be crawling through the floor and stage diving, they weren’t performing or entertaining, they were just rocking. There was a lot of ‘’do it yourself spirit’’ going on, bands recorded their albums by themselves, they just needed a microphone and some magnetic tape (and maybe some sound effects); plus you had to make sure your parents wouldn’t like your music.
It was notorious something new was happening at that time in the local music scene, but nobody putted a label on it. Local music was influenced by punk rock and heavy metal, mixture which created a noisy, absurd, chaotic heavy and dirty sound. It was just rock ‘n’ Roll going back to its basics.
SUB POP Bruce Pavitt, a fan at that time, had a fanzine with the name of Sub Pop. He made his own cassette compilations with the songs he liked and shared them. His friend Jonathan Poneman and him were fans of the band Soundgarden, and they were very interested in the idea of starting a record label. The bands at that time were all
4 Recording with small labels, and Sub Pop was an alternative to it. The 90´s had this indie ethic that said you shouldn’t be proud of being famous or have hit records on the radios. As big fans of American pop music, Sub Pop selected their bands, starting a sort of ‘’underground hype’’ going on in Seattle. Everything started when Jonathan and Bruce invited an English journalist to Seattle, and showed him the current music scene. The journalist wrote the story in a famous newspaper in England: that was when the city was introduced to the world as one of the most important in the music world at that time. People started looking for the characteristic Seattle sound, which had a very marked identity. Bands started to get known and suddenly got lots of opportunities. Soon the ‘’Seattle sound’’ was way more important than pop.
Time after the big explosion, bands started to regret and critique what Sub Pop did in Seattle’s music scene. Suddenly everybody was looking for the new Nirvana or the new Pearl jam, making other bands lose their true identity. It was all about selling bands as ‘’grunge’’, a term that by the way the bands didn’t invent. Although some may consider this as something negative, we can’t deny that Seattle was once one of the most important places for music in the world.
KOEBA NE ‘ S ART
‘’My mother encouraged me a lot to be artistic. It was written in a contract at an early age that I would be an artist’’ Ever
Cobain was a little boy, he was very attracted by drawing and painting. His parents always encouraged him to develop his artistic side. For his eighth birthday in February 1975 he received an easel from his paternal grandparents. Comic book characters were his inspiration in childhood. Later he began with Disney characters, such as Donald Duck, although he quickly changed to superheroes. In fact, his parents always thought Kurt’s future had to do with and art involved career. ’’It was my mom’s big dream that Kurt and I would end up at Disneyland, both of us working there with him drawing’’, remembered his sister. When he was in second grade, Cobain’s artwork was chosen to appear in the school’s newspaper cover.
His bedroom walls soon became the gallery for his art creations; he was constantly adding drawings to it. He also showed abilities in modelling with plasticine and clay, making sculptures of aliens or superheroes. When he visited his paternal grandparents, he helped his grandmother Iris to recreate some of Norman Rockwell’s paintings (she was a big fan of him) by etching them onto dried mushrooms with toothpicks. In another occasion, he built a dollhouse for his grandmother with the help of his grandfather.
Another of his favourite art muses were aliens, long-limbed extraterrestrial creatures. Later he started incorporating collages. At the age of 15 he figured out he could start a cartoonist career. His art teacher suggested it could be possible to attend art school if he applied himself. The problem was his other grades; they were very low for college, even for art school. His friends started to tease him, awarding himself the nickname ‘’Kurt slowbrain’’.
In high school, the only class Kurt attended was art. He would skip school all morning and then come back for art period; it was the only place where he found recognition and selfrespect. In 1985, Kurt’s art teacher, Bob Hunter, convinced him to participate in the Regional High School Art Show. His chosen painting, a landscape, remained in the finalists and entered a statewide contest. Unfortunately he lost, but he still got a certificate. According to his art teacher, Kurt was gifted with a great capacity of drawing; accompanied with an active imagination. His primary stylistic techniques were realism or caricature, but his theme choice was always extravagant. In one opportunity, his assignment was to show an object evolving over time; taking the assignment literally he drew a sperm cell turning into an embryo.
Long before Kurt Cobain was known for his music, everybody in Grays Harbour knew him as ‘’ the kid who painted the band kiss on one side of The Melvin’s van (the Mel-Van)’’. Art and music were Kurt’s alltime passions. He gave up his cartoonist plans to find out his life’s path: music.
BOOK REVIEW OF THE MONTH : LORD OF THE FLIES
Lord of the Flies is a book written by William Golding in 1954. Located in the midst of a nuclear war after World War 2, several English boys between 6 and 12 years old are stranded on a desert island.
This is an incredible book, compelling from start to finish, Goldingâ€™s carefully calculated technique is dazzling and lures the reader into the world of these English boys and their hardships and struggles to survive on the island. With descriptions that will give you goosebumps and a chill up your spine, William Goldingâ€™s main objective is not to tell a story, but to use that story to convey a message. Golding is in fact, trying to show us the true nature of human beings, placing rich boys from a posh, private school in England on a lonely deserted island without much hope for rescue and little by little stripping the rationality and order that had been ingrained since they were little into them. Golding uses many many different symbolisms and references in the book, each and every thing, event or person that has been created by the author has a purpose, a task, a symbolic meaning.
8 It takes human nature and strips it down until only primitive instincts are left, the human beingâ€™s most hidden, true, raw personality comes out. The main theme of the book would be civilization versus savagery, and every aspect of this confrontation is represented in a person or object. Lord of the Flies is much more than meets the eye; you cannot rush into this book and expect to understand it.
This is a book that must be read slowly, methodically, profoundly analyzing every part of it because there is a vast amount of information that can be extracted from it, subtleties that William Golding has cleverly snuck into the book, references and symbolisms that without proper care will be overlooked. Lord of the Flies is a incredible book, with layers and layers of complexity which makes it all the more extraordinary. A classic of western literature, we award it 5/5.
LEGENDARY BANDS THE MELVINS
The Melvins were founded by Buzz Osbourne, Matt Lukin, and Mike Dillard in the early 1980’s. The three of them lived in Montesano, Washington. They started off playing Jimi Hendrix and Cream covers. They then started to play their songs heavier, slower and dirtier than anyone else at the time. In 1986 they recorded their first full length album: ‚Gluey Porch Treatments‛ and in 1990 they recorded another studio record titled ‚Bullhead‛. This last album had a heavier, more droning type of sound. They then proceeded to tour Europe. When Nirvana’s ‚Nevermind‛ album became a huge success, The Melvins profited greatly by it, being signed by Atlantic Records.
This is quite ironic, as Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana singer and guitar player once auditioned for a place as bass player for The Melvins, but being so nervous he forgot all the songs and failed the audition miserably. The Melvins first major release was in 1993 with their album ‚Houdini‛ which peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Heatseeker charts. This band made only 2 more albums with Atlantic Records, ‚Stoner Witch‛ in 1994 and ‚Stag‛ in 1996. The band was then dropped by Atlantic Records for lack of success in the mainstream and because the Seattle Sound was losing popularity. They’re active to the date, and are still producing music and making records.
With Soundgarden, they are considered to be one of the fathers of ‚grunge‛. Kurt Cobain himself was a huge fan of the band and it provided a huge influence on Nirvana’s music. Cobain was on good terms with the band and was in touch with them until his death in 1994. The song that we recommend you listen to to have an idea of the type of music The Melvins made is: ‚Honey Bucket‛ from the 1993 album ‚Houdini‛. The Melvins’ current lineup is: - Buzz Osbourne - Dale Crover - Jared Warren - Coady Willis The Melvins played incorporating aspects of heavy metal and hardcore punk, fusing them together to make a genre in which the lyrics and attitude are reminiscent of punk, but also involving a much slower tempo and complex instrumentation, hence the reference to heavy metal.