Dan Trager Moves To Seattle Because of Mudhoney

Posted: December 22, 2011 in Other Key Interviews

Dan Trager worked at Sub Pop from 1993 to 2000, eventually ending up in their A&R department.  A Michigan native, Dan embraced the hardcore scene there.  In the summer of 1987, on a whim, Dan and his girlfriend drove cross country and spent a few weeks in Seattle.  Like myself, Dan fell in love with the city immediately.  Seattle in the summer is like very few places on the planet.  The sun shines, the bodies of water sparkle, and the mountains beckon.

Dan took it all in, including (the University of Washington’s) KCMU’s eclectic format and support of local acts.  He also caught one of the last Green River shows.  At that point, the band was on its last legs, as guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament were moving toward the mainstream, while singer Mark Arm embraced his punk and pre-punk garage roots.  “You could see…that there was a conflict,” he says, “between some of the members of the band [Gossard and Ament] wanting more to—ironically or not—dress up in a classic Aerosmith style of rock star: you know, with scarves and bandanas and things like that.  And [Arm had] more of a strident anti-rock star posing element going on there.

“There was definitely like,” he continues, “‘Okay, those guys really love Aerosmith and those guys don’t.’”

Dan went home to Michigan, but returned to Seattle for good the following summer.  1988 was a great time to be in Seattle.  The local music scene had reached a creative peak, but hadn’t yet totally sold out to the mainstream.  Green River had split into two bastard children by that point: Gossard and Ament had formed Mother Love Bone—a band primed for stardom, while Arm started the super-punk Mudhoney.  In ’88, Soundgarden was also receiving a lot of major label attention.  Dan hung with the Mudhoney crowd.  “I was definitely more interested in the Mudhoney side,” he recalls.  “I remember…talking to some friends in Detroit, and they were really excited about Soundgarden.  And I was like, ‘Yeah, they’re fun and great, and I recognize and appreciate them.’  But Mudhoney played a lot more and just resonated a lot more with [me.]

“Mudhoney played all the time,” Dan continues.  “I could walk down the street and see them in a dive bar–sometimes several nights a week.”

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