Without Mudhoney, there’s no grunge scene writ large and so therefore there’s no Nirvana either. A bold claim to be sure, but not too controversial when you consider that Mudhoney was the first band from Seattle during that era to make a major splash outside of the Pacific Northwest, which had the effect of attracting area musicians to the city while also putting the world and major record labels on notice.
If you were a fan of the grunge movement as it was happening, you’ll be sure to enjoy the 2012 documentary I’m Now: The Story of Mudhoney, directed Adam Pease and Ryan Short. It’s chock full of amusing tidbits.
For instance: Mark Arm’s day job is managing the Sub Pop warehouse. When you order something from Sub Pop, there’s a decent chance that Mark Arm himself is the person who seals it in cardboard for shipping.
The movie covers Mudhoney’s origins as a high school band called Mr. Epp, in which both Arm and Steve Turner played. Later on, Arm’s band Green River, whose LP was Sub Pop’s first release, broke up, and Arm instantly got on the phone to cajole Turner into forgoing his studies and joining forces.
Arm is touted in the movie as the originator of the term grunge but with typical humility he hastens to point out that the word was originally applied to Australian bands such as the Scientists and Beasts of Bourbon. In voiceover, a band member acutely observes that the term was really “a different way of saying punk rock.”
Legendary Seattle producer Jack Endino mentions that his only comment upon hearing the band play was, “Are you sure you want the guitarist to be this dirty?” Indeed they were. Indeed they were.
Somehow a hastily recorded track called “Run Shithead Run” made its way onto the With Honors soundtrack—Turner drily notes, “That was the last soundtrack we ever did.” Although it should be said that they inexplicably popped up in the Chris Farley/David Spade movie Black Sheep a couple of years later.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Superfuzz Bigmuff in New York City: Mudhoney rave-up at the Ritz, 1989