I am a history geek. I've taught American history as an adjunct professor at Delaware Valley College, near Philadelphia, since 1999. As part of that, I've focused a great deal on popular music and its place within the American narrative. In addition to US history survey courses and classes on the Vietnam War, I've created classes on rock n roll and alternative rock history.
I've approached the Seattle thing both as a historian and a fan. I wish I could say I got that first U-Men EP back in 1984, but that would be a lie. Instead, I found out that Seattle had a music scene at the same time most of America did...when Nirvana exploded in 1992.
The whole early '90s Seattle thing was kind of like my '60s. My older sister grew up in that decade and remembers getting Sergeant Pepper's right when it came out, sitting down and listening to it with her friend and getting her mind blown. I never had that. The Beatles broke up when I was seven. So, Seattle felt like the '60s to me, since I was still in my twenties when Nirvana and Pearl Jam hit.
So, I embarked on the typical progression...Nirvana and Pearl Jam to Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, to Mudhoney, to Skin Yard, saw hype!, etc. As I ventured onward, I noticed a number of things that didn't fit within the comfortable Seattle narrative:
- grunge had nothing to do with Soundgarden (the major label version), Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains -most of Seattle music had little to do with grunge -Nirvana had nothing to do with creating grunge and, most importantly... -Seattle people are the funniest individuals on the planet
So, I thought I'd write about it. I had yet to read anything that fully captured this incredibly vibrant, yet small, music scene. I began in earnest in the spring of 2006. Since then, I've interviewed about 120 people, been to Seattle several times for research (well, some "book" research, some "seeing bands and drinking beer with people" research), and have fallen in love with the city and its music community.