People Who Work Here would like to apologize for the extreme delay between interviews, but this week’s guest was dragging his feet like mad because, apparently, he does not want “to be made fun of” and therefore said guest took an unprecedented amount of time to complete his interview. Again, I apologize, but now I’d like to introduce you to Chris Jacobs, General Manager of Sub Pop Records! Chris has two kids, one of whom has the best name ever: Owen Blackjack Jacobs, and a lovely wife, and a golden retriever named Gabe. Chris enjoys playing soccer, playing cards with his buds, and skateboarding. Chris does not like mayonnaise or beans of any kind. I often times go to Chris for advice or when I am feeling blue and he cheers me up by reminding me that he is older than me and therefore worse off. He is a sensitive and hilarious guy and I have learned a lot from him over the years and am proud to call him friend as well as boss. (He makes me call him boss.) Let’s meet Chris!
L: Tell me about your history at Sub Pop and how you moved through the ranks to become the general manager of such a fine establishment. Be sure to tell me a little about your duties at each stop along the way.
C: I started here in April of ’97, shortly after the attempted coup, as tour publicist. Duties there included lots of phone time with newspaper journalists who sometimes also wrote cooking or home improvement columns. “Yes, that’s right, we put out the first Nirvana record. No, right now, I’m hoping you’ll write something about Elevator to Hell, actually.” Later, in addition to that, I bought ads for the label, and wrote quite a few of those that were mostly misunderstood, when paid any attention at all. Highlights include our failed pseudo-revolutionary “campaign” (“Sub Pop: By Any Means Currently Available”), our high-larious and way before its time LP3 ad, the ZZ Mower ad we stole from Matador, and oh, so many more that likely no one but me and Jeff Kleinsmith care at all about. After the departure of my old boss Cece, I took over as Publicity Director, and oh man, did I ever get this label a lot of coverage in Pulse! Magazine. A few years after that, I was elected Marketing Director in a landslide, which job involved (among a great many other, high-level responsibilities) making stickers and buttons and helping to put together this. [Seriously, will you just let this thing die? Yes, ha ha. We get it. –ed.] After being relieved of those duties, I was Editor-in-Chief and then Sr. Director of Special Projects, and the main duties involved in both of those jobs seemed to be explaining what they were and also combating the derision of my co-workers. Recently, I was inexplicably promoted to General Manager and I’m still not altogether clear on what that means.
L: Comics—you love them. Why? Which ones are your favorites? Do you only like the dirty alternative comics or have you collected them since you were a kid?
C: I do love comics! Sadly, I have paid less attention to them recently than I once did. I mostly only like the dirty alternative comics [Who can resist a skillfully shaded boob on paper? –ed.] and then sometimes also the not-so-dirty alternative comics and am a great fan of many of the folks currently published through the Fantagraphics imprint – Dan Clowes, Pete Bagge, Jim Woodring, Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Richard Sala, Ivan Brunetti, Johnny Ryan, Al Columbia. I also really like Adrian Tomine. This is the same list from ten years ago though… I never really collected comics. I read ‘em as a kid, but only sporadically. I liked Ghost Rider a lot, Dr. Strange. I’m starting to bore even me here…
L: Tell me exactly how having a baby changes a person. Is the second one just gravy or do you have to go through all of it again with each new little dude?
C: Man, I think having a baby changes people in all sorts of different ways! Though I am very free with my complaints on the subject (little babies are big pains in the ass)[You should hear the way he talks about the new one! –ed.], I’ve also found that it’s made me just get over myself in what I hope are good ways. It’s good for you to care/worry about someone else more than you do yourself. I also have a heightened appreciation for sleep and, relatedly, far less motivation to leave the house at night. You do have to go through it all again with the second one, for sure, and there are complications in how you split your time between the two (the older one wants to play Power Rangers or whatever and the younger one just wants your full attention right goddamned now all the time), but the second one was easier because I think we were less uptight. We felt somewhat confident that we’d be able to keep the second one alive in those first few weeks/months. We were very worried about that with the first one.
L: You and your eldest son Owen just went on a father son roadtrip to Montana. What did you guys talk about? Would you consider hiring yourself out to people who might not have gotten to do this as children?
C: We did just go on a little trip to Western Montana, Owen and I! And, it was one of the best things I’ve done in recent memory. We didn’t really talk about anything super important or deep. [Yeah, he’s 4 so I didn’t think you would’ve. –ed.] We mostly talked about how he really likes Lunchables and how sleeping bags are pretty cool, stuff like that. And, no I wouldn’t consider hiring myself out for this kind of thing. I’m not at all convinced that I’m any good at it [See above for Chris’s technique. –ed.], I’m just all my kids have got (in the dad dept. – they have an excellent, highly-qualified mom), so I have to give it a shot.
L: You play(ed?) the drums. Did you ever have dreams of making it as a “professional musician”? Why or why not? If you could play drums for any band living or dead who would it be? Also, please tell me about your very first band.
C: I am indeed a mediocre drummer! I don’t play all that much anymore though. Before Owen was born I used to play once a week or so, with some friends. And, yep, in high school I had some dreams of “making it” in a band. Why? Just for the usual reasons, I think, it seemed to be an incomparably fun way to make a handsome living. Also, it held the promise of meeting and possibly impressing girls. I guess I probably would have liked to play drums for Kiss in the ‘70s. That was probably a pretty good time and I’m at least as good a drummer as Peter Criss now. [Wasn’t he impersonated by a hobo some years back? –ed.] I’d have a different answer to the question of who I’d most like to be able to play drums like (Rey Washam or Mac McNeilly, or the guy from RFTC, probably). My very first band was called The Floorshow (I came up with the name – based on my affection for The Sisters of Mercy in ’85 or so) and we played a handful of cover songs. The first song we learned together was AC/DC’s “Walk All Over You.” [Ah, that explains the AC/DC explosion coming from your cubicle last week while you were, presumably, answering these questions. –ed.]
L: You are Kinski’s A+R guy and you recently went down to Oklahoma and Texas to see them play in some big ass stadiums when they were opening for Tool. Tell me a good story about one of these shows.
C: Those Tool shows were really fun! And, those Tool guys and all their crew were incredibly good to Kinski. The singer from Tool has some sort of customized police car that he tows behind his bus and drives around in the different cities they play. [Yawn. This is not at all the kind of story I was looking for here. –ed.]
L: What was your first job? What was your last before Sub Pop? What did you imagine yourself doing when you were a kid?
C: I had paper routes as a kid, but my very first real job was as an usher at The Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. It’s this thing where people pose as works of art. They did a bit on it in Arrested Development. It was just for the summer – a couple summers in a row, actually. The guy who narrated it (Thurl Ravenscroft) was the voice of Tony the Tiger from TV commercials, and OJ Simpson came to at least one of the performances I worked [Was he wearing gloves? –ed.]. That was a really great job… Before Sub Pop I worked at Fantagraphics Books (the comic book [boob –ed.] publisher I mentioned above), doing marketing and promotions. When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, or a professional soccer player, or skateboarder, or play drums in a band – that kind of thing. [Wow! You do almost all of those things, minus the space one! Congratulations! –ed.]
L: You are known around the office as “Rad Dad” because you still go skate boarding and stuff. Were you a bad teenager? Did you give your parents a hard time? Will you be disappointed if skate boarding and rock music is totally boring to your kids?
C: I was a pretty bad teenager, yeah. Or, rather, I was trying really hard to be bad when I was a teenager. All of that stuff embarrasses me pretty badly now. It was all really stupid stuff. And, I was for sure hard on my parents. They seem to have come through it okay, but there were a number of years there where we were battling fairly hard. Nah, I won’t be disappointed if Owen and Will don’t care about skateboarding and rock music. I kind of expect them to dislike that stuff since it’s what their dad is into. I mean, I’m going to try to share that stuff with them, but I think the impulse to differentiate yourself from your parents is good/healthy. Plus, I’m karmic-ly due some father/son friction, I think. [It’ll be okay—just remind them how much older you are and I’m sure they’ll fall right in line. –ed.]
L: Do you take dumps at the office? Are you afraid of germs or food from restaurants or anything like that?
C: Sure I do! [Please email me for a complete list of people who will NOT take dumps in the office. –ed.] Nope, I’m not really afraid of germs. Getting touched by strangers, like on the bus, is really uncomfortable for me, but that doesn’t have anything to do with germs.
L: When did you first make out with a girl? Was it totally weird? Tell me about your high school girlfriend.
C: I think my first real make-out was with Maura McHenry at a very typically booze-y OC high school party at some kid’s house whose parents were out of town. It was pretty weird and embarrassing, but at the time seemed to be about the best thing in the world. I kind of “dated” a few different people, but I didn’t really have a girlfriend until the very end of high school, right around when I graduated. And then I wrecked that by taking her to Disneyland with another couple and getting thrown into the Disneyland jail (it’s a long story and one that my long-suffering co-workers have heard ad nauseam). She was a year younger than me and was on the soccer team [Uh, Chris, I think that means she was a lesbian. Oh wait, is that softball? –ed.] . Neither of these old flames can hold a candle to my excellent, super-foxy wife Stephanie! [Indeed! –ed.]
L: And finally, tell me three TV shows and five records that you are really into right now.
C: Easy! TV: Top Chef, Entourage, Flight of the Conchords… You know? I’m actually sort of more waiting for stuff I’m really crazy about on TV to come back. I can’t wait for more of The Wire, The Office, 30 Rock, and Battlestar Galactica. Records (not nec. new, but stuff I’ve been listening to lately): Parts and Labor – Mapmaker; The National – Boxer; that Wipers box set; Welcome – Sirs; and the Coconut Coolouts – Party Time Machine! [So, if everyone here likes the goddamn Coconut Coolouts so much how come we don’t have a record deal?! -ed.]
On September 11th we let loose the party beast that is the new Go! Team album Proof of Youth, available on CD and LP, and sure to make an appearance on best of 2007 lists all over the world. This record is all about hand claps, double dutch good times, and it features guest appearances by Chuck D, the Rapper’s Delight Club, and that crazy broad from "Bonde de Role ":http://www.myspace.com/bondedorolewho sings about eating dick cheese on a cracker for breakfast. (HINT: If possible, only watch Brazilian bands with a member of CSS serving as translator. Those Bonde kids are nasty!) Anyhoo, did I mention that it’s got Chuck D on it? Chuck D! We are giving you $2 off the already low, low price of $14 if you pre-order it on subpop.com by street date and we’ll also throw in some pins (that’s ‘badges’ to you anglophiles and/or members of The Go! Team) and stickers and junk along with it. I’d like to point out, for anyone who is paying attention, that we will not be giving away free mp3s with the LP version of this particular record and I blame Al Qaeda. Should you happen to want to learn more about The Go! Team band I would suggest you check out their myspace here and some videos here and also this thing here.
Next stop on this party train is the long awaited new release from Iron and Wine, The Shepherd’s Dog, which will also be available on CD and LP. I really like Sam’s increased hair growth, both on the face and the head, and I think he’s really going to turn the heads of quite a few ladies with these new photos. (Is anybody even reading this?!). Think of Sam’s longer hair as a metaphor for The Shepherd’s Dog — it’s just like the old Sam but with more, and by “more” I mean instrumentation! This record has a lot more going on than previous Iron and Wine records but it’s still the good ol’ Sam you’ve come to know and love. Personally I think that this new one is a little more Fleetwood Mac-ish than the others, or am I the only one who thinks Sam Beam sounds like Lindsey Buckingham every once in a while? The Shepherd’s Dog comes with a bonus CD of two b-side tracks “Serpent Charmer” and “Arms of a Thief” as well as $1 off on subpop.com through street date as well as a generous helping of button and sticker.
Also making their debuts during the bitter sweet month of September are two titles from our pals at Hardly Art and DeStijl. Le Loup from Washington DC are Hardly Art’s second release, and you should buy it because a) the band is good and you will like to smoke some doob and listen to this, and b) Nick and Sarah from Hardly Art are just cute as little buttons! I asked Nick what he liked about Le Loup and he said “it is well thought out, intelligent music and it’s not pretentious. I have definitely smoked a doobie and listened to it.” Also be sure to check out the new (old) Michael Yonkers record out on DeStijl and available through Sub Pop. I can’t really do the ol’ Yonks justice by describing his jam to you, but you should look here and here and note that he counts the Hunches, the Hot Snakes, and all of us at the Sub Pop office as his fans.
You know what else is happening in September? Bumbershoot. That’s right, Seattle’s own summer music festival takes place this weekend and The Shins and Grand Archives are playing so you should maybe stop by if you are in town. We literally have a million bands on tour right now (that’s right, literally) so check here to see if one of them is coming to your town. Stay tuned ’til next month when I bring you HALLOWEENCOSTUMESFROMDAYS OF YORE, featuring photos and stories from as many of our bands and employees as I can convince to do this!
Though it has been a closely guarded secret here in the Sub Pop offices for some time now, we are pleased to finally and publicly announce that we have signed Portland’s Blitzen Trapper! The band self-released their stellar Wild Mountain Nation CD in the US on June 12th of this year, and you can watch the video they made for the track “Devil’s A-Go-Go” here.
We’ll be releasing this same Wild Mountain Nation internationally on October 22, 2007, and will be putting out the next Blitzen Trapper album at some undisclosed point in the wholly undisclosed future, everywhere all at once. Or, this is our plan anyway.
Oh man, oh man have I got a treat for you guys this week! That’s right, ladies and germs—this week’s People Who Work Here has scored an interview with the Big Cheese, the Head Honcho, the Captain of the SS Sub Pop—Jonathan Poneman himself! Jonathan is an elusive creature who darts in and out of the office at odd hours, travels to work via handsome cab, and lives in an underground bunker on his own private island. Okay, I lied about all of that, but I would describe Poneman as a mysterious and highly intelligent dude. JP has a couple of Boston Terriers, he doesn’t eat meat, he goes to lots of rock shows, and as far as I can tell, he doesn’t do drugs anymore even if he does threaten to treat us all to some of Bruce Pavitt’s homemade PCP from time to time. Let’s meet Jonathan!
L: You still into this for this week?
J: Hell, yeah. It’s like the therapist’s couch. I’ve noted how people in the office seem elevated after laying their burdens down during these sessions. I, for one, have deep, ugly secrets that have been gnawing at me for years… [I should really start upping my rates. –ed.]
L: Tell me about Jonathan Poneman age 13-18. What were you into? What was you home life like? What did you want to be?
J: I was a nice kid. My first job at age 13 was pumping gas at Rick Lawrence’s Gulf station in Toledo, Ohio. I sold a tiny bit of drugs on the side. [Once a businessman, always a businessman. –ed.] I remember going swimming at Centennial Quarry after smoking a joint of angel dust with my buddies. I thought that I had miraculously grown gills! That was an idyllic summer. By the time I was 18, I was pumping gas at Gary McDonald’s service station in Bellingham, Washington. I soon moved on to cleaning up the parking lot at the late, great Samish Drive-In Theatre. It was all meaningful preparation for my present duties here at Sub Pop!
L: When did you move to Seattle? Why did you come out here and what was it like then?
J: I moved to Seattle 28 years ago at the age of 19. My then-girlfriend had broken up with me because she was through with dating teenagers. (She had just turned 21.) [Yeah well look who’s laughing now! –ed.] I moved down from Bellingham and secured a one bedroom apartment on the south side of Queen Anne Hill…$210.00 a month. I worked for a company called Textured Yarn Arts. We used butane lighters to fuse together huge spools of synthetic yarn. Very technical. And some serious huffing! Seattle was smaller and far more charming then. But I actually prefer Seattle now. I prefer it if for no other reason than it is “now”. Nostalgia is a waste of time—unless one is trafficking in Grunge for aging X-ers. Then it—nostalgia—is a meaningful diversion. [Also known around the office as a “cash cow” –ed.]
L: How old were you when Sub Pop became super famous? Did that notoriety change you in any fundamental way?
J: Super fame changed fundamentally. From my perspective, Sub Pop was already “super famous” before I even got involved. Bruce put out cassettes, the Sub Pop 100 compilation album and “Dry As A Bone” before I came knocking, hat-in-hand. He was already a media magnate and I was just another morose dirtbag with a crummy band. Frankly, I feel like I’ve been the luckiest person in the world. Getting to work with and be around what’s happened musically in this city over the years has been a gift that keeps on giving. Kind of like an open chancre sore!
L: You travel a lot-what’s your favorite place and why?
J: First, listen to my concept: I think old cities in the High Plains, Midwest and the North Central states are where it’s at. Great, forgotten art museums, ghostly, dilapidated-yet-still-majestic neighborhoods and easy on the wallet. Why I like it so much that I’ve decided to move the company to Saginaw, Michigan. Get packing…
L: What do you think you will be doing in the next five years?
J: Introducing Grunge to my buddie’s grandkids. From dust to “Dust”.
L: What’s your favorite food?
J: Pet. Besides that—hmmmm. Is Nardil a food group? [I googled it so you don’t have to! -ed.]
L: Please tell me the secret to your success.
J: Surrounding myself with the most lovable, smart and talented people that a person can hope to know. [Aw shucks. –ed.]
L: What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you?
J: Ah, the questions have gotten serious. Hmmmm. Losing my father and nearly losing Sub Pop during a two week period in 1997. Kurt Cobain’s death was super hard. It’s not like I was close to him in the years leading up his death. But it was a transformative event that hit me hard. Very profoundly. Largely because it was so traumatizing to our community. I contrast it to Chris Takino’s passing which, while being very sad, immediately inspired so many acts of love and altruism. [No wonder you need the Nardil. –ed.]
L: What’s your favorite newish band and why?
J: There is this band, Foals, on the Transgressive label in the UK. I heard some of their new stuff recorded with David Sitek of TVOTR. Really some of the most compelling recordings that I’ve heard in ages. Besides that, I listen to stuff all the time that I get excited about. But if an artist’s name has more than one syllable, I may as well be memorizing the Vedas. I have a shoddy memory for names.
L: Tell me a funny story about Mark Arm.
J: Mark Arm is no laughing matter.
L: Knock knock.
J: Who there?
L: A pile up.
J: A pile up wh…hey!
Feel free to log-in and ask JP any other questions you’d like answered that we may have missed in this quick interview. Sample questions include things like “how much money do you make?” and “when did you lose your virginity?”. Please, ask away!
This week’s People Who Work Here is proud to introduce Susan Busch, Director of Radio Promotion and one of two female members of the A&R staff—she’s the lady who brought Oxford Collapse and The Go! Team to Sub Pop Records! Sue is from Texas and we both lived in Austin at the same time but we didn’t meet until we both started working here. When we became friends we would go out after work and get totally wasted and then drunk drive all over Seattle while cruising for dudes before passing out in each other’s vomit just before the sun came up. We’ve both settled down quite a bit since then, but Sue still enjoys punching babies and a nice glass of wine in the evenings. Fun Sue facts—she hates mayonnaise, she used to play volleyball, and she was once featured in Jane Magazine. Let’s meet Sue!
L: How did you get into the radio business? What did you study in college?
S: I decided to volunteer at the college radio station KVRX mostly because I realized I hated the idea of joining a club but still wanted to be involved in something other than being a student. [So basically college radio is like a fraternity for nerds? -ed.] Plus, I heard that you got into shows for free and got to hear records before they came out which seemed super cool. I went from having a show that was online only to eventually being the music director at the station. I studied magazine journalism. When I told my professors that I wanted to be a music journalist they usually made some sort of disapproving face and gave up on trying to actually improve my skills as a writer. [Little did they know that “blogging” was just around the corner and that it requires no skill, taste, or brains. –ed.] I decided to scrap the journalism thing and started interning at record labels. Clearly a wise move on my part.
L: Austin or Seattle, why? What’s your favorite thing about Seattle? Least favorite?
S: No offense to Seattle but I’m going to have to go with Austin. I like sunshine and Mexican food a whole lot and they are both pretty absent in this town.[Maybe if you got a hankering for Canadian food you’d be a lot happier…. –ed.] Austin also has fantastic BBQ, Emo’s, Mexican Martinis @ Trudy’s, Casino El Camino, Barton Springs, lots of super well maintained public swimming pools, dance parties, Waterloo Records, Mi Madres and you can still afford to buy a nice house in a nice neighborhood for less than 500K. My favorite thing about Seattle is how pretty it is during the three weeks of summer. There are also tons of great restaurants here too which is huge plus. My least favorite is the 9 months of rain and darkness. That shit messes with your constitution.
L: What’s your favorite thing about doing A+R? Could you do it for the rest of your life?
S: My favorite thing about doing A&R is finding bands that I’m super excited about and turning other people on to their music. There are so many parts of jobs, even “cool” jobs, that are a total drag but you can’t really beat the feeling of finding something new and getting totally stoked on it. It’s even better when things work out and you’re able to watch bands/people realize their potential. I could totally do A&R for the rest of my career. As long as I’m still able to go out at night and see new bands I’ll hopefully be doing this. [I’ll set you up with my coke dealer. –ed.]
L: Where do you see yourself at 35?
S: I try not to think that far in advance. Plans are for suckers. Hopefully I’ll be working on a family by then though. [Families are for suckers. –ed.]
L: What’s the best show you’ve seen this year?
S: This isn’t really a specific show but the ATP festival in Minehead, England was the best musical experience I had. Those Brits really know how to pull off a festival. It was like being at indie rock camp or something. Some of the highlights where the Notwist, Les Savy Fav and The Go! Team. There was plenty of debauchery going on but nothing got out of control. People just wanted to go see amazing shows, meet new people and have a great time. I can’t see anything like that happening in the states without someone doing something really stupid and ruining everyone’s good time.
L: Who’s your favorite local band? Would you sign them to Sub Pop if it were all up to you?
S: Right now I really like the Coconut Coolouts [I swear I don’t tell people to say this—it’s just that we’re really good. –ed.] and Fleet Foxes. Two totally different bands but both, I think, doing cool stuff. I’d sign a lot of stuff it was all up to me but I’ve got some folks to answer to so….
L: Do you believe in God? Why or why not?
S: I believe in A God but not necessarily THE God. [You do believe he’s black though, right? –ed.] I’d like to believe it all happens for a reason but I don’t necessarily buy into any one specific school of thought.
L: Who do you like better, your mom or your dad?
S: If you knew my parents you’d know that they are probably reading this so I am totally not choosing one over the other. They’re both rad in their own special ways. I will say that my mom did far less embarrassing things to me as a child though. [Cop out! Who bought you your first box of maxi pads? That’s who you should like the best! -ed.]
L: Who is your favorite coworker?
S: I have known all of you on the marketing staff for way too long to play favorites so I’m gonna say our lawyer Eric Brown. Eric is secretly hilarious [That’s right, Eric—no one actually knows you’re funny! –ed.] and was by far the safest driver when we went to NZ. Plus he said chilly bin like nine thousand times and laughed every single time he said it. He’s also the only dude here who can help you out of any serious trouble you get into. [He was no help when I flushed my deodorant down the toilet at my old apartment…. –ed.]
L: What do you do after work generally?
S: I go to the gym, take the dog for a walk and cook dinner. I KNOW! Pretty crazy right?!
L: Do you like “Everybody Loves Raymond”?
S: I am assuming you asked me this only because you’ve heard me say how much I hate this show. There is nothing funny about that show. Not Ray. Not his annoying wife. Not his wacky parents. I’d rather watch King of Queens. [I actually asked because I hate that show, too. I don’t like King of Queens either, though, but you should still buy Patton Oswalt’s new record, out now on Sub Pop Records. –ed.]
L: If you had to be one age for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
S: 22 was a good year. I was living in Austin, going to school, working, seeing a ton of bands and going out almost every night but still taking care of business. It was just a really fun time.
L: Tell me a good slumber party story from when you were a kid.
S: When I was maybe 7 or 8 a friend of mind had a slumber party and we decided it would be fun to sleep outside on her giant trampoline. I’m from El Paso, TX and she lived on the side of the mountain so the backyard didn’t face other houses but a really dark ravine that led up to the mountain. Now, I don’t know if you people are familiar with the Chupacabra but it was like a Mexican version of the boogie man. It literally means goat sucker. Anyway, her mom gathered us all around and started to tell us ghost stories which eventually led to a Chupacabra story. We were all huddled together hanging on her every word when something started howling in the distance. Then there was a rustling in the bushes. Then her older brother, dressed up in a wolf man suit/the Chupacabra, jumped over the wall and scared the shit out of all of us. I jumped about 10 ft in the air, ran into their house bawling and locked myself in the bathroom. People are dicks. [Well, at least it wasn’t one of those super scary illegal immigrants that I’ve been hearing so much about—one of ‘em could’ve stolen your job! –ed]
Seaweed is an aggressive, melodic, and powerful unit originally formed in mighty Tacoma, WA. Formed in 1989 by high school friends Clint Werner, Aaron Stauffer, Wade Neal, John Atkins, and Bob Bulgrien, Seaweed quickly earned a reputation as a powerful and energetic live band. Seaweed joined the 7” revolution and put out several cuts on local fave Leopard Gecko. The kids seemed to love them dearly, so Sub Pop Records took a mild interest and signed the band. At Sub Pop, Seaweed produced an EP and two albums: the middling, yet endearing Despised, followed by hardcore-emo classics Weak and Four (Weak and Four are both currently out of print on CD and LP, but much of the Seaweed catalog is available through iTunes here). As a result of incessant domestic and international touring, the band inexplicably attracted the attention of several major labels. Seaweed decided to brass ring it on Hollywood Records in 1995. Later, as a result of many recording sessions gently steered by producer Adam Kaspar, the majestic, yet understated Spanaway was released. The band earned slots on the first Warped Tour and opened for Bad Religion and Green Day on several of many nationwide excursions. Although artistic visions were realized, album sales did not accrue as quickly as the suits had hoped. Suddenly finding themselves too indie for the majors due to cruel corporate cost-cutting measures, they signed with beloved Merge Records for 1999’s Actions and Indications, a raw and clever set of melodic and punkish tracks. The band was also joined for the project by the great Alan Cage of Quicksand on drums, Bob Bulgrien having left the group in 1996. Despite lovely tours to Brazil and the US, the band found itself broken up by the end of the millennium. However, happier times are upon the group now. Reunion feelings have been brewing for some time, and the band has decided to make its first re-appearance at Bumbershoot 2007 in Seattle. Although they have not graced the stage for years, Seaweed has impacted many, many slightly younger and much more talented bands (See Hot Water Music, Alexisonfire, Elemae, The Receiving End of Sirens, This is Hell, Fall Out Boy, etc.) A tribute album is set to be released on Engineer Records in early 2008. A new album of original material is in the works.
As well, our friends at KEXP will be broadcasting Seaweed’s Sept. 1 performance live from The High Dive. Those of you unable to make either of these shows should avail yourselves of this broadcast, via KEXP’s radio transmission or on the WWW.