A Whole Other Realm

Posted: September 12, 2011 in From Chapter 8, After the Gold Rush

Meanwhile, back in Seattle, the grunge explosion was greeted at first with bemusement, and then with disgust. As Nirvana and Pearl Jam’s initial success enveloped the city, waves of media–from MTV to the New York Times, Spin, and even People magazine–came to town, attempting to grab their angle on the Seattle sound. “Just to see that sort of culture explosion happen around you was fascinating,” recalls author Gillian Gaar, then with the Rocket. “I mean, I used to talk with Art Chantry a lot about that kind of thing, and other cities’ scenes and that sort of thing–and never thinking that it would happen here. So when it did, it was amazing. And it just seemed to go into this other realm. When people were saying, ‘Oh, it was like when Athens, [Georgia] got famous or Minneapolis got famous.’ But, in those instances, it was pretty much limited to the music. And with Seattle, it was just sort of everything–it was, you know, your whole lifestyle and the flannel shirts, the grungewear. And they had the high-fashion grungewear, which was really funny…and embarrassing.”

As waves and waves of TV crews, music media, and A&R people infiltrated the town, the locals’ bewilderment continued. The media horde would hit any place they could dig up a potential rock star to interview. Typical targets included Sub Pop, C/Z Records, and the Rocket. “One day we had–like some Italian fashion magazine,” recalls Art Chantry, then the Rocket‘s art director. “We had some Japanese TV crew come through. We had the Christian Science Monitor come through, and the New York Times and some other magazine came through. [They] came in with their cameras, barked at the front desk…anybody that was wearing flannel and jeans all the sudden got nailed as a rock star. And they wanted to take the pictures and interview them. You know, I got interviewed. It was by somebody who spoke Italian and I didn’t speak any Italian. They didn’t speak any English. It was ridiculous. We thought it was hilarious. You know, we’d sit there and [say], ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m Nirvana.'”

“Writers would come in from all over the world–all over the world–and wanna do an interview,”adds Kim Warnick of the Fastbacks, then working at Sub Pop. “And like [Sub Pop’s Jon Poneman would say], ‘Well, there’s one right there [pointing toward Warnick]. You can talk to her. She’s in a band.'”

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