A few months ago, my friend Dan complained that he could never find anyone to talk to about music. Since I sometimes feel the same way, I suggested he talked to me about music, suggesting Radiohead's recent album, The King of Limbs, as the first bit of music we could talk about. For whatever reason, Dan was not interested, and the album went undiscussed. As my recent photography has illustrated, I recently spent some time in the Pacific Northwest, including the lovely city of Seattle. While there, I found myself wanting to learn more about Seattle bands.
Seattle has a strange relationship with music. Unlike most major American cities, up until the last twenty to thirty years, it did not have much of a music tradition. New York City was infamous for jazz, as being where Bob Dylan recorded some of his best material, and as the first place punk could be heard in the U.S. Los Angeles has pop music and its Sunset Strip is the home of 80s metal. Detroit is a the home of Motown Records and techno. New Orleans has blues, Chicago has more jazz, Nashville has country. Seattle had...the high school of Jimi Hendrix? "Louie, Louie?" Because of their relative geographical isolation, a small but important, and, eventually, influential independent music scene formed. In the coming weeks, I'm hoping to explore the bands of Seattle through watching their music and reading up on their history.
By Seattle bands, I do not just mean bands that started within the city limits, but bands that were part of the larger area, in Washington towns like Bellevue, Aberdeen, and Olympia, and even farther away from Seattle-proper in towns like Portland, Oregon. I will also be including bands with no geographic connection but a musical one: bands that influenced Seattle area bands in a notable way.
One of the great traditions in Seattle music is D.I.Y. ethics. In doing my own research and writing my own notes on their music, not being an "expert" in any sense of the word, I will be working in the same spirit of D.I.Y. ethics. I am not expecting my notes to be particularly revolutionary or perfect, but just a collection of thoughts concerning these bands, especially as it adheres to politics, one of the things Seattle bands (especially those connecting to punk, riot grrrl and queercore) have been connected to.
Do not worry: there will still be posts regarding other art and generally nerdiness throughout the coming weeks.
We start tomorrow with the band The Melvins, possibly the most influential and least remembered, Seattle area bands.