Mudhoney and The Vaselines
- Henry Northmore
- 1 October 2009
Grunge legends team up with the recently reformed Scots
Back in early 90s the music world turned its eyes on Seattle. And Mudhoney were there right at the start, they were first band to have success on the seminal Sub Pop record label with their Superfuzz Bigmuff EP in 1988, featuring the classic ‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’, popularising the heavy distortion that came to influence the whole grunge movement. ‘Alice in Chains really made it in the States and Soundgarden were plugging away, Nirvana had a huge breakthrough then Pearl Jam had their huge breakthrough, and not just the music press but magazines that usually had politicians on the cover were covering the Seattle music scene,’ explains Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm.
‘I could never say we’ve been influential but we’ve been influenced,’ adds the ever modest Arm, who alongside guitarist Steve Turner, drummer Dan Peters and bassist Matt Lukin (ex-The Melvins, who left in 2000 and was replaced by Guy Maddison) formed the core of Mudhoney after various attempts to start ‘a band’ (most notably Green River which also featured Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard who went on to form Mother Love Bone and later, Pearl Jam).
However their distinctive fuzz guitar sound actually came about via a chance encounter: ‘This guy from a Vancouver punk band gave Steve a superfuzz [distortion pedal], thinking that in the early 80s “this is outdated, this isn’t a sound anyone will go for.” Everyone was into Siouxsie & The Banshees and The Cure and this clean guitar sound. Then we found the bigmuff and that was our holy grail. The superfuzz sounded like Blue Cheer and the bigmuff sounded like the first Stooges’ record.’
Mudhoney had a sense of humour that made them stand out from many of their peers, especially on the raucous Piece of Cake (1992). ‘People might say it’s what kept us from being super, super successful,’ laughs Arm. ‘But I think you have to have a sense of humour. Perhaps we went too goofy but it was a reaction to the moroseness of some of our counterparts.’
They play Edinburgh with Scotland’s own perennial underachievers, the freshly reformed Vaselines, a band who also unintentionally helped shaped grunge, given the colossal influence their music had on a young Kurt Cobain.
Mudhoney meanwhile are promising ‘at least one song from every record’ this should be the perfect introduction or nostalgia trip for grunge fans of every generation or a blinding introduction for the uninitiated.
HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Fri 9 Oct