As 2016 finally
limps to a close, we’re happy to provide you the pleasant distraction of this the November edition of thee No Fly List! This month’s dispatch is stuffed with plenty of
product placement and peppered with the sort of almost-humor you might expect from a tippling uncle
at Thanksgiving. In what follows we’re going to explore what is perhaps Sub Pop’s most well-known, provocative, overused, and frequently misunderstood expression: “LOSER.”
If you have been keeping up with No Fly List posts from Sub Pop’s airport store since the beginning, you’ve probably wondered what our fourth most asked question is! (See top three FAQ’s)
Wonder no more! It’s “What is loser, and why loser?” (Which, yes, is kind of actually two questions, but they’re related and we’re calling the shots here, so deal with it.) Let’s dig in…
According to LOSER; the recently expanded book by Clark Humphrey that chronicles the diverse Seattle
sound and punk scene, it’s, “a statement
of defiance against the yuppies’ obsession with ‘winners.’” The term “LOSER” or “losers of the music industry” was a
reaction to corporate industry driven trends and views.
First developed/stumbled upon in the summer of 1988, “LOSER” made its way onto a Sub Pop t-shirt that very year. Consistent with the label’s aesthetic embrace of apathy (and characteristic
of the time), images were sporadically
misprinted, contained gaps, and sometimes were even screened in reverse. You can scope photos of the original “LOSER” shirt in such books asEverybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by
Mark Yarm, and Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe by Bruce Pavitt.
In grunge speak, courtesy of Sub Pop’s current CEO Megan Jasper back when she was still the label’s receptionist, a
loser is a “cob nobbler.” And, the greeting “Dear Loser” was used
endearingly in the infamous Sub Pop rejection letters of the early
nineties. The term was later used to market a
Sorachi Ace-forward American pale ale developed in Seattle by local brewery
Elysian. It’s also a term used in the card game contract
So that’s why Loser Editions! And, why don’t you
have Bloom, Fear Fun, or King Tuff on colored wax? It might be because you didn’t pop in to the Sub Pop store at SeaTac. The Sub Pop airport
shop is often the last place you might be able find one of these limited
slick discs before they hit the wicked online aftermarket. When the pre-sale is sold out and the stash at your favorite shop has dwindled to nothing, your Loser Edition might just be one
plane ticket away.
More “LOSER” related fact and fiction…
One of the earliest
singles I’ve scored since becoming a Sub Pop employee is TAD’s long-out-of-print 7” single for “Loser” b/w
“Cooking With Gas” (SP55). While this release was limited to
3,000 copies on a green transparent vinyl 7”, both tracks are now available on the deluxe
edition reissue of 1990’s Salt Lick. The 45 has a killer back cover by celebrated local cartoonist
Peter Bagge, which exists now on a fine black t-shirt.
Are we forever going on about “LOSER” this and “LOSER” that because of the Beck
song? Fuck no! Beck was/is not on Sub Pop. He did, however, put out the 1994 release One Foot in the Grave on Olympia-based label K Records (the latter day reissue of which is occasionally stocked on vinyl in the
‘non-Sub Pop’ section of the airport store with the rest of the PNW titles and related
Life as a “LOSER” is not for everyone. Tourists regularly walk by the store and stare. Some stop and think out-loud how unsuitable something like this would be for
their youngster. Others imagine their
choice of relative sporting a big, bold “LOSER” (as punishment or gift, who can say?). For those daring and/or proudly unambitious enough to let their “LOSER” flag fly, however… As the holiday season approaches, this charming stocking awaits, (available online only!), as does a great heap
of othershit that saysLOSER on it.
Now if you don’t have any other questions; beat
Philadelphia’s Pissed Jeans have been making gnarly noise for 13 years, and on their fifth album Why Love Now, the male-fronted quartet is taking aim at the mundane discomforts of modern life—from fetish webcams to office-supply deliveries. The album will see its worldwide release on February 24th, 2017, and we’re pretty fucking psyched about it.
Pissed Jeans’ gutter-scraped amalgamation of sludge, punk, noise, and bracing wit make the band—Matt Korvette (vocals), Brad Fry (guitar), Randy Huth (bass) and Sean McGuinness (drums)—a release valve for a world where absurdity seems in a constant battle trying to outdo itself. Why Love Now picks at the bursting seams that are barely holding 21st-century life together. Take the grinding rave-up and lead single “The Bar Is Low” [link] which, according to Korvette, is “about how every guy seems to be revealing themselves as a shithead.”
As they did on their last album, 2013’s Honeys, Pissed Jeans offer a couple of “fuck that shit type songs” about the working world, with the blistering “Worldwide Marine Asset Financial Analyst” turning unwieldy job titles into sneering punk choruses and “Have You Ever Been Furniture” waving a flag for those whose job descriptions might as well be summed up by “professionally underappreciated.”
And the startling “I’m A Man,” which comes at the album’s midpoint, finds author Lindsay Hunter (Ugly Girls) taking center stage, delivering a self-penned monologue of W.B. Mason-inspired erotica—office small talk about pens and coffee given just enough of a twist to expose its filthy underside, with Hunter adopting a grimacing menace that makes its depiction of curdled masculinity even more harrowing.
No Wave legend Lydia Lunch shacked up in Philadelphia to produce Why Love Now alongside local metal legend Arthur Rizk (Eternal Champion, Goat Semen). “I knew she wasn’t a traditional producer,” Korvette says of Lunch. “We wanted to mix it up a little bit. I like how she’s so cool and really intimidating. I didn’t know how it was going to work out. She ended up being so fucking awesome and crazy. She was super into it, constantly threatening to bend us over the bathtub. I’m not really sure what that entails, but I know she probably wasn’t joking.”
The combination of Lunch’s spiritual guidance and Rizk’s technical prowess supercharged Pissed Jeans, and the bracing Why Love Now documents them at their grimy, grinning best. While its references may be very early-21st-century, its willingness to state its case cement it as an album in line with punk’s tradition of turning norms on their heads and shaking them loose.
Read more on Pissed Jeans from Maura Johnston here.
Why Love Now will be released on CD / LP / DL, and is available for preorder now here. LP preorders through megamart.subpop.com will receive the limited Loser Edition on lavender vinyl (while supplies last).
It feels like a grunge holiday with all of our cassettes, flannel, and Pearl Jam on display, as the Temple of the Dog reunion/first ever official tour nears. This spirit isn’t limited to the confines of the Sub Pop Store at SeaTac, with the Pearl Jam Poster Exhibit in the A Gates still going strong and Jonathan Poneman’s voice purring from the airport loudspeakers. The festive atmosphere has me so worked up that I am moved to finally release my grunge-themed (stick and poke) tattoo flash sheet to the world.
[Clockwise from #DocMartens: #Flannel #Utilikilt #MotherLoveBone #Mudhoney #Spoonman #Punky #PearlJam]
Next month, starting November 4, the Temple of the Dog tour starts in Philadelphia and spans New York, SanFrancisco, and Los Angeles before concluding where it all began, here in Seattle. In order to best draw attention to ourselves (while still promoting the tour) I’m pulling out the 21st century version of a business card, the “hashtag,” to help get everyone as excited about this tour as I am. I’ve done my best to use the following hashtags to welcome you all into our big old, grungy, Sub Pop Jamily:
Temple of the Dog was a tribute band organized by #Soundgarden lead singer, Chris Cornell, to honor Andrew Wood, the lead singer of #MotherLoveBone, following his heroin overdose. Several of the surviving members of the band, along with guest vocalist, Eddie Vedder, went on to form Pearl Jam and came to Sub Pop with their first single. We opted to pass and have been kicking ourselves with #DocMartens ever since.
Now with #Flannel ! We finally have our collaboration with Altamont Apparel in store! Denim jackets, flannel and skate decks while supplies lasts!
It is impossible to overstate how much easier it is to draw/visualize #PearlJam than a dog temple.
For everyone who saw Braveheart but couldn’t say goodbye to pockets.
In 2013, Seattle favorites #Mudhoney played an entire set on top of the Space Needle. Mark Arm, our fearless warehouse manager, is a friend and former bandmate (in Green River: Ride the Fucking Sixpack!) of Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of #TempleoftheDog.
Our receptionist and artist extraordinaire, Derek Erdman, does an excellent rendition of Soundgarden’s#Spoonman at Karaoke.
As previously mentioned here on this very blog, the Sub Pop Podcast makes its (we really hope) triumphant return for a 10-episode second season TODAY aka mere months after its unforeseeably really, pretty great first season earlier this year, and in response to largely precedented levels of demand for more.
Enter Episode 1 of Season 2, wherein we learn all about the Sub Pop Airport Store at Sea-Tac Airport. Hear from employees of the store, employees of the company who don’t (usually) work at the store (including, in an exclusive first-time-ever appearance, leader and co-founder of Sub Pop, Jonathan Poneman!), and random airport store customers (randomly including Stacey Rozich, friend of the label and excellent artist!).
Season Two of the Sub Pop Podcast will run weekly from October 12th through December 14th and will be available through all finer podcast distribution points. Here are two ways to subscribe:
In case you missed it, you can listen to the trailer for Season Two (and, again, every previous episode) at subpop.fm RIGHT NOW. If you like what you hear, you can subscribe (in iTunes or anything) right now, too. We might (and do) encourage you to sign up for the podcast mailing list; New episodes will be delivered weekly until December 14, 2016.
Now for your viewing pleasure, we present the official video for “Union of Mind and Soul” by Goat. The visual trip is an alternate-vocal version of “Union of Sun and Moon,” the first track off Goat’s upcoming album, Requiem, which is out tomorrow, Oct 7th. According to directors Christofer Hogberg and Henrik Nyblom, the video for “Union of Mind and Soul” is a “coming of age flick from a different angle. A day in a life of a lone-rider young girl who created her universe.”
“Union of Mind and Soul” is available through all manner of digital music acquisition services, and is included in the digital download that comes with the vinyl LP of Requiem. North American fans can (and should) purchase the album on CD / 2xLP / DL / CASS from your local independent retailer, and also here. (via Stranded Rekords in Nordic countries, and Rocket Recordings in the rest of the world.)
Goat will be touring Europe throughout the fall, with more dates to follow. (Current schedule is below.) The band’s live show is legendary, and “…A psychedelic rock ritual of rhythm, motion, hypnotic repetition, and ecstatic drive.” according to the New York Times.
Requiem finds Swedish psych explorers Goat focusing more on their subdued, bucolic ritualism than psilocybin freakouts. (Stream Requiem here.) A clear folk-rock influence pervades the album, with stand-out tracks “Alarms,” “Try My Robe,” and “Union of Sun and Moon.” But Goat hasn’t foregone their fiery charms—tracks like “All-Seeing Eye” and “Goatfuzz” conjure the sultry pulsations that ensnared us on 2012’s World Music and 2014’s Commune. Requiem is available via Sub Pop Records in North America, Stranded Rekords in Nordic countries, and Rocket Recordings in the rest of the world.
Listen to the Season 2 trailer, and subscribe now!
Mere months after its unforeseeably really, pretty great first season earlier this year, and in response to largely precedented levels of demand for more, the Sub Pop Podcast will return for a 10-episode second season on Wednesday, October 12th. Season Two of the Sub Pop Podcast will run weekly from October 12th through December 14th and will be available through all finer podcast distribution points.
Produced and hosted by real-life Sub Pop employees Alissa Atkins and Arwen Nicks at the label’s Seattle headquarters, the Sub Pop Podcast, of course, is where you can hear stories from inside, outside, and adjacent to Sub Pop, Seattle’s premier medium-sized record label. We focus on conversations with our artists, people who work at/with/around Sub Pop, and anyone else willing or reckless enough to talk to us. And same goes for our sibling label Hardly Art. We will continue to include, impose on, sponge off, and otherwise implicate them, as well.
In its conspicuously excellent debut season, from January 10th of this year, through to April 1st, we managed to produce and then release 11 (which, for some reason, we called 10 ½…) episodes of Sub Pop’s very first podcast. And then, between April 1 and now, we put out an additional two, interstitial, summer episodes in an effort to sustain the arguably ravenous interest of our dozens upon dozens of regular listeners. We spoke with principal members of Band of Horses, Mass Gothic, Chastity Belt, Mudhoney, Shearwater, S, King Tuff, and a whole bunch more. And, we were recognized with an Honorable Mention in the Seattle Weekly’s 2016 Readers’ Poll for local, music-based podcasts which currently exist! This sort of intoxicating recognition has us gunning for at least second runner-up next year. The entirety of this first season, and our summer episodes remain available everywhere now.
In the upcoming second season, unrelated to any outstanding debts or lost bets, we managed to convince an impressive array of folks to talk with us. Here we are referring to such celebrated figures from the wide world of entertainment as: Alex and Victoria from Beach House, Sam Beam from Iron and Wine, Tad from TAD, Benjamin Gibbard from both Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, Kathleen Hanna, Father John Misty, Jonah Ray, members of CSS and Clipping, our boss and benefactor Jonathan Poneman (More than once! He’s the boss!), plus, reliably, “more.” We also took the Sub Pop Podcast on the road, with trips to both Poland and Portland, and down to the Sub Pop store at Sea-Tac Airport.
In the spirit of tell and show, you can listen to a trailer for the Sub Pop Podcast, Season Two (and, again, every previous episode) at subpop.fm RIGHT NOW. If you like what you hear, you can subscribe (in iTunes or anything) right now, too. The first episode of the new season will be available Wednesday, October 12, and new episodes will be delivered weekly until December 14, 2016.
SO! Visit subpop.fm to listen to the new trailer for the second season, subscribe to the podcast, and sign up for the podcast mailing list. Send us your thoughts and feelings here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sub Pop Podcast: Absolutely nothing sounds better.