Posted tagged ‘underground music’

The History of Punk, Class #8


The Edmonton Free School
Saturday 7 July 1:30PM
Location: Humanities 1-14, The University of Alberta
All-Ages, All-Welcome

“Punk, Grunge, and Selling Albums vs. Selling Out”

This seminar will discuss whether or not bands such as Mudhoney, Nirvana and Beat Happening were part of the underground punk community. Moreover, while viewing it as a social and cultural construct, this seminar will debate if the grunge movement, was, in fact, an extension of the norms, values and practices of punk culture.

Spoiler: I argue that grunge was an extension of punk, and when it hit the mainstream, there were all kinds of resounding implications for the mainstream music industry, underground culture, and a generation known by the letter X.

Once again, we’ll start with a short lecture, and then transition into our intellectual picnic format – so bring food to share if you can!

I’m Just Selling Albums, I’m Not Selling Out

Not Required Reading:
This is Not For You: The Rise and Fall of Music Milieux in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, 1950s -1990s

Mother Love Bone “Crown of Thorns”
Jane’s Addiction “Had a Dad”
Soundgarden “He Didn’t (Live from Seattle Bumbershoot Festival 1988)”
Mudhoney “Touch Me I’m Sick”
Ronald Reagan “Morning in America”
Fugazi “Waiting Room”
Hüsker Dü “Eight Miles High”
The Replacements “Unsatisfied”
Scream “Came Without Warning”
Martha Quinn “MTV VJ 1982”
Mötley Crüe “Girls, Girls, Girls”
The Dead Kennedys “Pull My Strings”
Mr. Epp and the Calculations “Of Course I’m Happy, Why?”
Rodney Bingenheimer “Rodney on the ROQ Theme”
Wipers “Doom Town”
Beat Happening “Black Candy (live on TCTV 1998)”
The U-Men “They”
The Melvins “Happy Grey or Black”
The Fastbacks “Swallow My Pride”
The Gits “Insecurities”
Skin Yard “Skins in My Closet”
Green River “This Town”
Malfunkshun “With Yo’ Heart (Not Yo’ Hands)”
The Posies “Ontario”
The Young Fresh Fellows “Amy Grant”
The Green Pajamas “Kim the Waitress”
Screaming Trees “You Tell Me All These Things”
Nirvana “Spank Thru (1/23/88)”
Tad “Loser”
Sonic Youth “Kill Yr. Idols”
Sonic Youth “Teenage Riot”
Alice in Chains “We Die Young”
Pearl Jam “Why Go”
7 Year Bitch “M.I.A.”
Bikini Kill “Double Dare Ya”
Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”



“Somebody needs to figure out a new way to smash a guitar”


it’s been a while

In the 1950s, we had beatniks and rebels without a cause.
In the 1960s, we had mods and hippies.
In the 1970s, we had glam rockers and punks.
In the 1980s,  we had metal and…other stuff.
In the 1990s, we had flannel and more flannel.

not just for lumberjacks

Then starting in the 2000s, we had…everybody dressing up like their favorite character from the last fifty years. The fashion became the passion, and folks with no connection to the subculture those styles came from regurgitated rather than invented something of their own. Often, these styles drew from music communities that formed around a particular grievance or attitude, – a relationship that can be symbolized by, say, reggae music and dreadlocks. Of course, the foundation for both of those was Rastafarianism, and anybody that knows anything about that branch of Christianity knows how stupid an affluent white person with dreads is. Or at least they should be stupid for not being informed on their stylistic choice, but nowadays there’s no meaning behind the styles – the superficial is all that matters.

This may be the reason why I’m still wearing the same clothes I had in high school.

Happy Birthday to Sub Pop – April Fools to Everyone Else!


So they did it on April 1st so it could be called a joke if they failed, but really they were serious. Today is the anniversary of the day Sub Pop Records officially opened its office doors, way back in 1988. With a knack for self-deprecation, the independent label also had a talent for combining innovation, timing, and marketability – not only for its bands, but for the label itself.

Sub Pop developed a unique image based around hype that became the straw that broke the camel’s back – that is, if you can call the wall that was blocking underground musicians from having mainstream success in the United States a camel – and thereby caused a major shift in American glamour. Nevermind the make-up and leather outfits, here’s the flannel.


Transmissions from the Punk Heart


When the music scene in Seattle exploded in late 1991, bands from everywhichwhereplace rushed to the Pacific Northwest to try and get in on the buzz. This wasn’t how things usually went. Normally, a musician had to leave the Emerald City in order to make it big. Heck, even Jimi Hendrix had to do a reversal of “follow the yellow brick road.”

Example of a brilliant scientist

Here’s some other examples of people that had to ditch Seattle to order to find “success.” I put success in quotations because it can be a pretty subjective term, and the following musicians certainly achieved different levels of it.  Of course, the examples given will then be combined into a trifector (trifecta?), because science has proven that’s the best way to make an overall argument. Thanks in advance, science.


Dropping the Iron Curtain


Nowadays, American bands don’t just influence American bands. American bands also influence British bands, Canadian bands, Australian bands, heck, American bands influence at the very least bands all over the world, if not also in places that aren’t even planets, like Pluto. (sorry Pluto)

The same was the case during the Cold War. Despite the USSR’s official rejection of western culture, all things American were slipping through the Iron Curtain. Music was no stranger to this transmission into Eastern Europe and the USSR. Musicians picked up from acts like Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, and of course later punk bands like the Talking Heads. I know this to be true because I read about it in a fanzine called Flagpole Magazine, from Athens, Georgia.


In 1991, a band called BIX came across the Atlantic to perform across the United States. They were from Lithuania, a country that had just declared independence from the Soviet Union. Already veterans of playing throughout Europe, and at a short 1990 US tour including a stop at the New Music Seminar in NYC, BIX was back for their second tour of America.


My MA thesis explained in 3 youtube videos


“I think I helped wipe out the 60s”


Innovative Research Methods 101


When you’re doing historical research, you can be pretty rest assured of a few things:

1) You’re going to have to read a lot of books.
2) You’re going to have to spend a lot of time in the library.
3) You’re going to have to spend a lot of time in the archive (this is different from the library, but only slightly).
4) You’re going to have to forgo any sort of social interaction for long periods of time.  

 Sometimes, though, depending on your topic, you have to get creative with your methodology. Such was the case when Joey “Shithead” Keithley played an afternoon gig at the Black Dog in Edmonton. The frontman for the seminal Vancouver punk band D.O.A., Keithley was a major part of the punk milieu during the 1980s (and ever since). So in the name of historical understanding, I had to put down my book, venture out of the library, and walk past the archive and head to the pub. Once there I had to order a pint from the barman, sit down in front of the stage, and utilize the handy coasters on the table to carry out my important research.

This was the result: