Tucked up in the corner of America’s north east, Seattle is on its own little island. However, this isn’t some barren deserted isle; this is an island rich in music talent and opportunity for established as well as emerging artists.
With some of the nation’s best recording studios, such legendary live music venues as Columbia City Theatre and The Crocodile, and a list of ground-breaking artists longer than a Led Zeppelin ballad, Seattle is one kickass music nation worth its salt, the lemon and the tequila.
Here are five epic acts birthed from Seattle’s music utopia.
After the death of Kurt Cobain, former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl found himself in Seattle where he started a one-man band called Foo Fighters. Grohl’s journey from Nirvana drummer to face of the Foo Fighters is a tale for another time, but there’s no doubt he helped create one of the world’s greatest rock groups.
Many Foo Fighters tracks, such as ‘Everlong’ and ‘All My Life’, showcase a post-grunge sound paired with furious drum and guitar riffs. With four Grammy-winning albums and a penchant for high-energy gigs, Foo Fighters are a certainty for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame come 2020.
Pearl Jam’s emergence in 1991 came with the release of Ten, which racked up more than 13 million sales in the US alone. Tracks from that debut, such as ‘Alive’, ‘Jeremy’ and ‘Even Flow’, are still some of rock’s most iconic tunes 26 years later.
The insatiable rockers, led by singer Eddie Vedder, for the most part have managed to stick together since forming in Seattle, to the tune of over 60 million records sold worldwide. But sales numbers aside, Pearl Jam showcases out-of-this-world talent that’s attracted one of rock’s longest-surviving obsessive fan bases who fawn over the guys’ love of music, respect of fans and lethargy towards the monetary side of art.
You need only flick between ‘Yellow Leadbetter’, ‘Even Flow’ and ‘Just Breathe’ to hear the band’s depth as it shifts from a heavy grunge sound, to all out rock and down to a more soulful rendition. After defining rock music in the 90s, Pearl Jam continues to build on their legacy, which at this point seems ready to outlive us all.
One of rock ‘n roll’s infamous 27s, Jimi Hendrix was lost too soon after only four years on the international circuit. Yet he leaves behind a sound and accomplishments that many musicians will never amass in a lifetime.
Hendrix’s first gig was in the basement of Seattle’s Temple De Hirsch, a rather reserved venue for someone who would go on to headline the fabled Woodstock Festival and the Isle of Wright Festival. He gained notoriety with his cover of ‘Hey Joe’, but quickly became a worldwide sensation with original recordings such as ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘The Wind Cries Mary’, along with his cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’.
Forever known as an enigmatic stage performer, the image of him burning his guitar and smashing numerous others during his shows has been engrained in guitar fans forever. However, it’s Hendrix’s sound – an innovative mix of blues, rock, guitar feedback improvisation and outer space elements – that has enshrined him in two halls of fame and the hearts of musicians and music lovers around the globe.
Modest Mouse were one of the pioneers of 21st-century indie rock with their first critically-acclaimed album, The Moon & Antarctica, released in 2000. The band’s upbeat basement sound, along with vocalist Isaac Brock’s unmistakable voice, has attracted a close following and helped them enjoy a steady growth in popularity since their formation in 1992.
The band’s most successful album to date is 2004 platinum-certified release, Good News For People Who Love Bad News, which was nominated for a Grammy and featured the iconic track ‘Float On’. Modest Mouse are also familiar with the big stage, rocking out at Firefly Music Festival and Coachella in the past years.
Band of Horses
After starting out playing Seattle-based shows, Band of Horses have gone on to tour Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Yet the band still loves coming home, often playing sold-out gigs in the Seattle area and dropping into local radio stations to record exclusive live sets.
Although Band of Horses are considered a rock outfit, their alternative sound harks on more southern roots. The 2014 live recording, Acoustic at the Ryman, highlights the band’s raw talent and singer Ben Bridwell’s vocal range. Despite numerous popular albums, including Grammy-nominated Infinite Arms, it’s actually Band of Horses’ first single, ‘The Funeral’, which remains their most recognisable track.
Check our out interview with Bridwell here.