“We’re not the best, but we’re pretty good” is Sub Pop’s slogan, but considering everyone from Nirvana to Beach House to Sleater-Kinney and Dinosaur Jr. has graced their roster, “the best” isn’t such a far-fetched claim.
On August 11 in Seattle, Sub Pop will celebrate their 30th anniversary with bands spanning three decades, including Wolf Parade, Shabazz Palaces, Mudhoney, Beach House, Metz, plus comedians like H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, and Eugene Mirman. Beyond performances, guests can the enjoy beer gardens, food trucks, and record shopping on site.
Aside from the music, label cofounder Jonathan Poneman wants the event to represent Sub Pop’s overarching ideals. “At Sub Pop’s Pearl Anniversary, I feel an energized commitment to do all that we’re able to defeat sexism, racism, and all forms of bigotry, both in the workplace and in all of our many greater communities at large. I believe that appropriate action in this regard is not at odds with celebration. We’re going to do both!” he says.
In honor of this milestone, Mudhoney bassist Guy Maddison and guitarist Mark Arm gave us their Emerald City recs and told us what’s going on in the city today.
Label cofounder Bruce Pavitt called you Sub Pop’s flagship band. What does it mean to you to be a part of the label?
Mark: I don’t really know how to put that in words. We have a long and deep relationship with Sub Pop that isn’t easily summed up. We are very lucky.
Guy: From my perspective, I was really proud to release my first record on Sub Pop. They were putting out some remarkable records and I respected their vision.
Rock is a huge part of Seattle’s history, but the music scene today spans many genres. Are those genres still separate communities or do you see them starting to overlap?
Guy: I have only lived here since 1993 and visited a couple of times before so I can’t speak to history beyond that, but it seems like things like Folklife Festival, which has run for many many years, attracts music fans of all types. I think there is room for everything out there.
As far as the grunge movement in Seattle goes, you’ve been part of its evolution. Are there still remnants of that era at the core of the scene today?
Guy: We are old and still playing, many of our peers still attend shows and play in bands.
What movies or books give an accurate representation of Seattle?
Mark: Streetwise gave an accurate portrayal of the area by the Showbox in 1983. I haven’t seen anything that accurately captures Seattle in 2018.
Guy: Trout Fishing in America (Book.)
You have a day off in the city. Where do you go for:
Mark: Easy Street [they have live performances and a café], Sonic Boom [live performances and music in every format], Jive Time [a clean store that’s easy to navigate, they also have budget bins of LPs], and Elliott Bay Books [this large bookshop hosts live readings by notable authors].
Guy: Same as Mark, plus Golden Oldies on 45th [this Wallingford store specializes in rare vinyl] and Fat Cat records on Meridian [a family-owned spot with a listening station]. I’ll hit Wall of Sound records from time to time [this place has been around since the ‘90s and specializes in out-of-print vinyl].
Mark: I don’t touch the stuff.
Guy: Fuel Coffee [a cozy spot with high-quality espresso drinks and locations in Capitol Hill, Montlake, and Wallingford].
Mark: Zippy’s [retro-themed spot known for their giant burgers], Fonda La Catrina [upscale Mexican restaurant that serves brunch, lunch and dinner], Raccolto [modern Italian with locations throughout Seattle], Stoneburner [pizza and handmade pasta with ingredients sourced from small farms], Bastille [neighborhood cafe and bar with French artifacts as the decor], any Renee Erickson joint [Erickson is a restaurateur and author who heads up elegant restaurants like seafood-focused The Walrus and the Carpenter and French eatery Boat Street Kitchen, among others].
Guy: India Bistro [North Indian food in a contemporary setting], Tutta Bella [authentic Italian woodfired pizzas served at several locations in Seattle], JhanJay Thai [quaint restaurant serving vegetarian Thai cuisine], Mighty-O Donuts [certified organic donuts]. Dicks [a classic American drive-in that opened in the ‘50s]!
Mark: My house
Guy: Bottleworks [with 16 taps and 950 beers and ciders to choose from, you can buy a bottle and enjoy it at the tore for a small corkage fee], The Grizzled Wizard [divey neighborhood bar in Wallingford] and The Cozy Nut [eclectic locals’ bar with some interesting taxidermy…].
To get away from it all:
Mark: Secret spots on the coast.
Guy: Any large uphill road suitable for cycling.
Mark: The venue doesn’t matter nearly as much as the line-up.
Guy: I enjoy the Showbox [art deco venue open since 1939], The Crocodile Café [bar and venue with genre-spanning lineup], and the Neptune Theatre [architecturally-stunning 1920s establishment run by the Seattle Theater Group] as venues.
Which city landmark has significant meaning for the band?
Mark: I suppose that would be the Space Needle. We played a terrifying set on the roof of that thing.
Guy: Ditto the Needle.
Favorite acts/bands coming out of the city right now?
What Seattle band (old or new) is too often overlooked?
Mark: The Fall-Outs.
Where was the band’s first show in Seattle all together?
Mark: The Vogue opening for Das Damen on a Tuesday or Wednesday night in 1988.
Guy: I wasn’t there!
Who are you looking forward to seeing perform at SPF 30?
Guy: Hot Snakes, Metz, Clipping.
What do you hope fans take away from your forthcoming album Digital Garbage?
Mark: Each fan should take away at least three copies in every format from their favorite record shop or online retailer .
Guy: That we definitely deserve a Grammy for this one!