New Video: Sub Pop Records Re-Releases the Early (and Lost) Catalog of a Grunge Pioneer

As I often tell you, I receive a rather large amount of emails from a variety of bands, labels, publicity firms, band mangers and other assorted people from all over the world. Now, when I received an email from the folks at Sub Pop Records about their re-releasing of Seattle’s beloved forefathers of grunge TAD, I immediately thought of my dear friend Jill Mills, who used to talk about the band quite a bit when we were both in high school. Now, some backstory on the band is necessary, so let’s begin with this: Founded and fronted by Tad Doyle (guitar, vocals), the Seattle-based quartet TAD can trace their origins to when Boyle left his previous band H-Hour, with whom he played drums to record some recently written solo material with Jack Endino at Reciprocal Recording Studios. And those sessions resulted in the recording of three songs songs “Ritual Device” “Daisy,” and “Tuna Car” of which two — “Ritual Device” and “Daisy” — appeared on the first 7 inch, released n April 1988. After the release of the 7 inch, Boyle decided to assemble a live band based on the musical direction his work had taken. As he explains in a lengthy statement, Doyle had become good friends with Bundle of Hiss’ bassist Kurt Danielson, with whom Doyle had been familiar with for some time, as both of their bands played a number of shows together. Interestingly, Doyle was recruited as a second drummer, but he wanted to play guitar so badly that the band just added him as second guitarist; however, Bundle of Hiss split up a few months later.

Doyle and Danielson both wanted to continue working together and the duo began to think of other local musicians who they could recruit to complete the lineup — and wound up recruiting Death & Taxes’ Steve Weid, a band that was breaking up around the time Boyle and Danielson began recruiting him. Danielson knew of a guitarist, who had played in a band with a mutual friend and Sub Pop Records co-founder Jonathan Poneman, the Chicago-born, Seattle-based Gary Thorstensen, who was a member of Tree Climbers with Ponemon. Thorstensen was recruited just in time for the recording sessions that comprised the band’s debut full-length God’s Balls. Produced by Jack Endino, who had encouraged the band’s experimental tendencies, the material on the album featured some rather unusual instruments including — an empty car gas tank, a hacksaw, a large brass tube that was formally part of a microwave transmitter, a cello bow that the bad used on cymbals to create a sound that closely resembled guitar feedback and some handheld microphones normally used for citizen band radios. Interestingly, later that year they wound up touring with Nirvana across Europe.

The band followed it up with the Salt Lick EP, an effort that was produced by Steve Albini. As Doyle says in press notes “The songs had a different sound and feel as a result of Albini being involved but they were unmistakably TAD. We continued to expand and build on our foundational subject matter. We had been playing together as a unit long enough to accentuate our individual strengths, to solidify our sound as a unit. We had a lot of lyrical subject matter that was meant to be tongue-in-cheek from the beginning but that was presented by both Sub Pop and us as true-to-life. The press took it all seriously and began to feed on and ravenously devour the mythology we created.”

About a year later, and after several Stateside tours and two European tours, the members of the band had written new material which would eventually comprise their last album with their original lineup, 8 Way Santa and went to record it with Butch Vig in Madison, WI. That album had the band focusing on melody, as the members of the band continued their reputation for expanding upon their sound — and for being among the forefront of the grunge sound that later took over the world.

Check out the blistering, power chord dirge “Stumblin’ Man” a track that manages to sound as though it were channeling The MelvinsBadmotorfinger-era Soundgarden and Dirt-era Alice in Chains — and as a result, it’s absolutely mosh pit worthy.