Pearl Jam, Mudhoney Discuss the Birth of Grunge - Rolling Stone
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Hear Pearl Jam, Mudhoney Members Reflect on Birth of Grunge

Rolling Stone Music Now podcast episode includes excerpts from Green River oral history interviews

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Members of Pearl Jam, Mudhoney and Green River discuss the birth of grunge in the latest episode of Rolling Stone Music Now.

Charles Peterson

Three grunge luminaries who were once members of the band Green River — Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament and Mudhoney’s Mark Arm — break down the origins of the genre in the latest episode of our podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now. Senior Writer Kory Grow joins host Brian Hiatt to discuss the band’s importance and play portions of his interviews, which were previously published as part of an in-depth oral history of Green River and Seattle’s nascent rock community in the mid Eighties.

Reflecting on the group’s earliest days, in the podcast, Gossard said, “What we were doing was this spontaneous eruption of noise and energy, and if we drank enough beer and the crowd was right, we had these moments where suddenly we were in the middle of a sort of ecstatic punk chaos/celebration, whatever, bacchanal and we just wanted more of that.”

Arm spoke to the influence of Iggy Pop and the Stooges on him and his friends in Seattle’s music scene. “I was just getting into punk rock and reading about what came before,” he said. “Raw Power was a record you could find, because it was a cutout for four bucks. … I was just fuckin’ blown away. I couldn’t find anything else that sounded like the Stooges, especially Fun House. I don’t know anybody in Seattle who had Stooges records for a little while, except maybe Raw Power.”

And Ament discussed how the group never really thought about what genre they were fitting into. “I don’t know if we were thinking much about what style of music we were playing in,” he said. “Our scene was the hardcore scene, and at the same time, the thing we loved about a lot of the hardcore bands was that they were all dramatically different. All the big bands on SST were really different; think of Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, Saccharine Trust and the Minutemen. It was cool if it nudged things a little bit. I think that’s why the band even lasted as long as it did.”

The audio in the podcast includes thoughts and revelations that didn’t make it into the printed version of the story. Meanwhile, the full oral history, which coincided with reissues of their Dry as a Bone and Rehab Doll releases, includes interviews with Green River’s Steve Turner, Bruce Fairbone and Alex Shumway, as well as producers Jack Endino and Gordon Raphael, former Big Black frontman Steve Albini and former Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon.

To hear the entire episode, press play below or download and subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Download and subscribe to Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on iTunes or Spotify, and check out two years worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Ice Cube, Neil Young, the National, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Fleetwood Mac, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, Gary Clark Jr. and many more — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions and debates. Tune in Fridays at 1 p.m. ET to hear the show broadcast live on Sirius XM’s Volume, channel 106.


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