Category Archives: Mother Love Bone

Cameron Crowe “Singles” interview for PULSE! and Rock Power

Click to listen to the actual interview, conducted by phone in the summer of 1992.

Rock Power was published out of London in the early 90s, translated into ten languages and distributed globally.

Cameron Crowe2Cameron Crowe1SINGLES, a movie set in Seattle starring Matt Dillon and directed by Cameron Crowe (husband of Heart’s Nancy Wilson), brings to the silver screen the sounds of Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and more! MICHAEL BROWNING meets the director of what may go down in history as Grunge -The Movie…

Rock Power Sept 16 1992 Intl Cover

MAKE SURE EVERYBODY KNOWS we did this movie a year and a half ago,” Cameron Crowe, writer and director of Singles, emphasises. The irony is that all this stuff, which is the music I was listening to, or the music we love, has become very commercial. So it was a good investment for Epic, but still nobody’s getting rich off of this.”

Then again, you couldn’t really call it a losing proposition either, now could you?

In fact, in advance of the movie’s release, most involved are probably hoping the film itself makes as big a splash as the soundtrack {out since midsummer) already has. Heralded as a quintessential composite of Seattle tastes, if not the entire sound, the ‘Singles’ LP contains ten cuts from the city’s creme de la creme, as well as three songs from non-residents that still manage to embody the region’s musical vibe. Which, for the clueless, all boils down to honesty. Crowe, former editor at Rolling Stone magazine and screenplay writer of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, The Wildlife, Say Anything and Singles (also directing the last two), recognises the value of honesty in music and shows his appreciation of honesty (and loud guitars) by liberally adding his favourite artists to his movie making formula. “I love guitar. I love hard, guitar-oriented rock, and in the middle ’80s there was all this synth-pop garbage everywhere and I just found that guitar was still alive in the Northwest.” 1990’s Say Anything had both Mother Love Bone and Soundgarden in it and this year he’s upped the Seattle ante by including music from Alice In Chains, Screaming Trees, Mudhoney, Chris Cornell, Jimi Hendrix, Pearl Jam and, perhaps the most intriguing addition, The Lovemongers, a hometown side project of Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson. With that list, you could easily think that the movie is about the Seattle scene itself. It’s not.

While Matt Dillon does play the singer/songwriter of fictitious band Citizen Dick, Crowe likens the film to Woody Allen’s Manhattan where intense personal relations (a new direction for Allen) are played out against a colourful, cultured backdrop. With the Washington metropolis as the stage, Singles is about how six young lives intertwine within the building in which they live.

Pearl Jam plays Matt’s band in the movie so that’s how the rumour got started that it is a movie about the Seattle scene.”

So how did Crowe come up with the idea a couple of years back to do a film in the now globally acclaimed climate of Puget Sound?

“Nancy (Wilson – she and Crowe are now married) gave me someone to visit up here, but I always loved the area. I first came here in 74, writing a story on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; I was 17 at the time. I really loved it up here and I just love music, so it was kind of a natural thing to get hooked into some of these bands.”

Now wait a minute: Smashing Pumpkins and Paul Westerberg (of The Replacements fame) aren’t from Seattle. What’s with that?

“The incongruities serve to show that we’re not in the business of selling Seattle music. (Sub Pop’s) Bruce (Pavitt) and John (Poneman) have done an amazing job with their samplers and the truth is, this is just the music that I love and that worked in the movie.”

The rest of that truth is these artists have a kind of soul connection to the Northwest. Firstly, Seattlites seem to dig all things Butch Vig (the Pumpkins’ producer, and Nirvana’s as well) and “Paul Westerberg really is the spirit of the movie. Paul was one of the first guys to have pretty melodies built into hard, thrashing rock and punk attitude.”

Westerberg also got the job of scoring the film, with some incidental guitar work from Chris Cornell. You may have noticed that this is the first solo work ever released by Cornell, although the deeply personal Temple Of The Dog LP comes close This was no easy feat for Crowe “I don’t want to start a thing with A&M (Soundgarden’s label), but they have fought putting music in stuff I’ve written for years and I don’t know why. They had the Soundgarden music from Louder Than Love pulled out of Say Anything, so we used stuff from Ultramega OK!, a Sub Pop label Soundgarden release. They’ve had a nasty attitude towards us whenever we’ve wanted to use some of their music, and the truth is only with great jockeying from Susan Silver (Soundgarden’s manager) and Chris Cornell were we able to get a new Soundgarden song and Chris solo in this movie.”

In all, Crowe and co-producer Danny Bramson have compiled a collection of songs that truly captures the essence of Singles. Effectively sidestepping his idea of the current trend in soundtracks, which for him is like,

“What is this? is this some tangential sampler that has ‘something’ to do with the movie? Cos it’s not a soundtrack. It’s weird, the soundtrack has turned into a really crass marketing tool.”

Although there’s a ton of other music from John Coltrane to REM in the movie, every song is prominently used in the film. Most importantly, they deserve to be on the soundtrack and they effectively conjure up the appropriate images. This soundtrack exactly fulfills the aim of the director.

And hopefully it fulfills the listener as well.

Alice In Chains – Facelift: Fresh Blood [RIP – December 1990]

Something different, something new. Something fresh to sink your teeth into. Something familiar, yet not. Isn’t this what we are all looking for?

RIP Fresh Blood: Alice In Chains

RIP Fresh Blood: Alice In Chains

Unchain Alice, and that’s precisely what you’ll find. Although true to Seattle’s trademark grunge style, Alice brands it with their own personality. Heavily influenced by other Emerald City stars like Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone, their music reflects the close-knit camaraderie between the bands working the Seattle scene. With the big family attitude of the bands up there, it would mean there was something wrong if they didn’t.

However, Alice’s influences certainly aren’t limited to locals only. Their Columbia debut, Facelift, expresses their interest in The Cult and vintage Judas Priest as well. It’s a heavy, crunchy album rounded out by some slower tempos artfully produced by Dave Jerden.

Thanks in part to him, Layne Staley’s nasal-inflected vocals have matured into a strong, tough, streetwise sound; while Jerry Cantrell’s guitar injects painful emotion into cuts like Sea Of Sorrow and Love/Hate/Love, then fills Sunshine and We Die Young with raw, boisterous energy. The pounding rhythms come via Sean Kinney’s enthusiasm-filled drumming fleshed out with Mike Starr’s thick ‘n’ meaty bass licks.

The sometimes morbid, always thoughtful lyrics focus less on sex than the world in general, as viewed from the perspective of youth specifically. Staley attributes much of the band’s sound to the fact that they are all young and somewhat angry about the state of our society. But this does not mean that they have no sense of humor. Quite the opposite! They try to deal with serious subjects in their music while retaining an irreverent attitude about themselves. They like to have fun.

As for the name, they just don’t know. The stories range from Warrell Dane (Sanctuary’s singer) once wanting to form a thrash band that wore dresses on stage, to a recent quote from Staley that starts with the band owning a cat named Alice and concludes unprintably. Their name’s origination is generally credited to Staley, so I asked the major prankster Kinney what it means. He said, “For some people it sounds like a girl’s name, like Allison Chanes,” then he turns the question over to Cantrell, “What’s it mean, Jerry?”

“Alice In Chains could very well have been Herbert In Chains or Herbert In The Mud, for that matter. It actually means nothing.” Then, as an afterthought, “Actually, it sounds like the title to a really good porno movie!” To which Kinney adds, “we’re hoping to make one.” Alice will be touring the states in the months (which did turn into years) ahead, so remember: You’re never too young for a Facelift.

Seattle Times Tempo Section: Word by Patrick McDonald

Remembered in RIPAndrew Wood of Mother Love Bone

November 2, 1992 Tempo Seattle Post-Intelligencer

November 2, 1990 Seattle Times Tempo Section: Word column by Patrick McDonald

is remembered in an interview in the December issue of Rip Magazine. Conducted by writer Michael Browning, the interview took place last March 15, one day before Wood was found unconscious from a heroin overdose. He died four days later when taken off life support systems.

Wood is open about his drug problems, saying “I’m lucky to be sitting here.”He talks about getting out of rehab and insists he is clean. “I was a druggy until I went into treatment,” he says, “I’m not doing it anymore.” He’s upbeat and positive about MLB’s future.

A companion piece includes an interview with Xana La Fuente, Wood’s girrIfriend, who found him unconscious. “It’s really cool and weird, ’cause he wrote so much religious stuff in the weeks prior to his death,” she is quoted as saying. “All these songs about heaven and dying.” Incidentally, the Seattle Times Tempo Word Patrick McDonald 11.2.90same issue has articles on Queensryche and Alice in Chains.

Word by Patrick McDonald

Soundgarden: “Meet Ben Shepherd” [City Heat – August 1990]

August 1990 CityHeat Cover

August 1990 CityHeat Cover

Soundgarden. Yeah! City Heat’s got ’em. Had to travel for it tho. You think these guys would make it easy for Seattle’s Music Magazine by granting an interview in Seattle? No way! So we motored down to Portland for their show with Alice In Chains at the Melody Lane Ballroom on July 25th. Okay, truth is we were stoked for the road trip and the killer double bill!

Getting dinner and a photo shoot behind them, we sat down with Kim, Chris and Ben to get the exclusive poop. What’s that? Ben who? you say? On their records you know Hiro Yamamoto was playing bass. Then after the release of Louder Than Love you heard about Jason Everman dropping six in Nirvana to play four in Soundgarden. Now, who’s this Ben chap of which we speak?

Briefly, 21 year old Ben Shepherd has lived and played on Bainbridge Island for the past 18 years. Some of you relics out there may remember him from the days of Gorilla Gardens and The Metropolis when he was in, what he termed, a melodic punk rock band called March Of Crimes. Laying low, he’s since sang, played nad wrote for a band (who shall remain nameless) that played a very few shows in island towns before its swift demise.
Then from out of his relative obscurity, he is suddenly an integral cog in the critically acclaimed machine that is Soundgarden. We asked Ben to tell us the whole story of his transformation into SG’s ‘politically correct’ bassist.

Soundgarden

Soundgarden

Ben Shepherd: “Well, I’ve known Kim for a while, so he hunted me down and asked me to try out.”
City Heat: “Then what?”
BS: “Then they, ah………they fucked up (laughter all around).”
CH: “Like how?”
BS: “They took the wrong bass player.”
Chris Cornell: “Actually I had a dream, Ben. Did I tell you that? I had a dream I was in a room with your brother, apologizing to him for not choosing you in the first place. [Again addressing me] That was after we’d already chosen him.”

After Louder Than Love came out they held auditions for bass players. When Hiro decided to travel a different path it left the band in a lurch with not-a-lot of time to spend deliberating over a replacement.
BS: “I practiced or jammed with them a couple of times, I didn’t even know their songs worth a crap tho at all. But it was totally fun jamming with them. I hadn’t jammed with anyone for a while and it was flattering as fuck.”
CH: “Then what happened? You came in, jammed about a week….”
BS: “Not even a week, twice. Then Jason knew the songs better and they were in a really awkward bind at that time. They had the record out and needed to tour immediately, so they had to make a quick choice. So they chose Jason and the chemistry didn’t work.”
By the end of the tour they’d made up their minds to give the job to Ben.
CC: “We made the decision to play with Ben simultaneously with deciding that Jason wasn’t the right guy.”
Although both players had auditioned at the same time last year, member replacement is seldom easy and far from an exact science.
CC: “You can’t predict from a few meetings exactly what someone’s gonna be like and how they’re going to interact with the band. Mainly musically, but in most ways, we just didn’t click. It wasn’t anything necessarily ‘wrong’ with Jason. Band chemistry is really fragile so you can’t just make a choice and be one hundred percent correct.
CH: “So they got home and Kim called you up?” What did he say to you, ‘you’re on the team’?”
BS: “Actually Chris asked me. We were all looking at his little dog, hanging out at Chris’ place and he said, ‘Well, we were wondering what you’d think about playing with us?’. I just looked at my shoes real quick, ‘Fuck yeah!'”
So they had a few days to practice and after playing a couple opening numbers for Alice at the Lake City Concert Hall, were whisked off to Europe. The opening date of that tour happened to be the festival in Roskilde, Denmark.
CC: “His first actual show with us was in front of about 5,000 people.”
Karen Mason: “Was that a rush, first time going out?”
BS: “Well it was definitely a rush knowing my bass was plugged into a direct recording thing. That tripped me out ’cause the could hear every little sound.”
CC: “We were being recorded for broadcast by some radio station over there.”
After playing another big festival and a few more club dates, they’re back stateside and working up new material together. The band as a whole seems to gel well and all are contributing to the new songs. They’ve got a song on the soundtrack fro an upcoming movie and for those fortunate (intelligent?) enough to be members of Sub Pop’s Single of the Month Club, a tasty surprise.
The seven inch featuring H.I.V. Baby (produced by their sound man, Stuart Hallerman) will be available only to those elite peoples. But that’s not to say you may never find the tunes on a future full-length. Cornell likens Sheperd’s contribution (“H.I.V. Baby”) to a 90’s feeling “My Generation”.
CH: “What’s on the B-side?”
Kim Thayil: “Room A Thousand Years Wide.”
CH: “So you wrote H.I.V. Baby and play on both tracks?”
BS: “Yeah.”
CC: “Actually we were deciding between three songs that were his, but we have trouble with that kind of thing. If somebody writes for a movie or a single or something, a lot of times the songs will end up better than we’d expected and we want to save it for a record. So we kept juggling all these songs and couldn’t decide what to use.”
Next up is another (another? yes, another) U.S. leg supporting their Louder Than Love tour. Once the tour is finally over, they’ll be thinking about a new album which will be recorded either here in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C. or San Francisco. Just about anywhere but Los Angeles which, they all agree and inform me, is ‘completely uninspiring’.

Ben Shepherd onstage at Melody Lane Ballroom, Portland, OR.

Ben Shepherd onstage at Melody Lane Ballroom, Portland, OR, July 25, 1990.

Shots from this photo shoot are available directly from Karen Mason-Blair.
http://karenmasonblair.com/

 

 

Mother Love Bone: “First LOVE Issue” [City Heat – April 1990]

Hello and welcome, babies! Let me plug you into this feeling known as Mother Love Bone, whose mission it is to let their love rock energy shine down on the waiting populace. As many of you are well aware Mother Love Bone is one of Seattle’s prize exports of late and on the eve of the release of their PolyGram LP, Apple, City Heat had the opportunity to speak with the Bone about their feelings on recording albums, the record itself and anticipation. So without further ado, who loves you?

April 1990 City Heat Cover
Mother Love Bone came about thru the friendship and collaberation between Andrew Wood (then in Malfunkshun with Regan Hagar and Kevin Wood) and Stone Gossard with Jeff Ament (both in Green River with Bruce Fairweather, Mark Arm and Alex Shumway) a year before the conception of MLB.
Jeff Ament uncovers the beginnings, “Andy and [Malfunkshun’s] drummer, Regan, and me and Stone all knew each other kind of as friends, so a year before Green River even broke up, we got together and learned about six covers. Zeppelin and Aerosmith stuff, just us four. At that point we were called Lords Of The Wasteland. We totally just did it to have fun and do things we’d never do inside our respective bands. Then when me and Stone were trying to get something going after Green River… I don’t know, things just kind of fell into place. Within a month we were jamming with Greg [Gilmore] and Bruce. At that point we already had six or seven new songs. Then by late January, early February [1988], we went in and just live…cut five songs in four or five hours for our demo, purely for us to get shows.”
The sticky part was that Green River was officially past tense, whereas Malfunkshun had yet to be discussed. When Wood parted ways with his best friend and his brother he made a very tough decision.
Hagar tells me, “Andy felt really terrible about replacing me and that’s kind of too bad because I understood that it was a business decision, and the very best one he could make then.”
The group enlisted the considerable percussive talents of Greg Gilmore, best known for his work with The Living and Ten-Minute Warning. Returning from Asia in late 1987, Gilmore says, “The very day I came back to Seattle, I rn into Stone up on Broadway after being in town just a few hours. He asked me if I wanted to come play sometime. I did a couple, three weeks later and that was it.”
He adds, “At the time I didn’t really know what was going on. The first or second time I was there and Regan showed up was when I learned that Regan had been playing with them. Because all of a sudden everybody was very uncomfortable and silently started to put their guitars away. We were still just in the ‘come down and jam with us’ phase and see what we all think. It was only the second time and even then it was kinda happening already.”
It was that magic in the combination of members that began to manifest itself in some fantastically creative songs that would soon capture the attention of everyone who heard them. When recording their first demo that Ament mentioned earlier, he adds, “…even when we were recording, I think we all knew it was something pretty special. It was just totally spine tingling in the studio most of the time. We just knew what was happening…it was just…it’s cool. Definitely something special.”
Now, with  minimum of tribulation, they had cemented their line up and were getting shows. The next year was spent being courted by labels, looking at signing with Geffen, only to end up with PolyGram in one of the biggest contracts ever for a band with no released material.
I asked Wood about the reputed seven record, quarter million deal. “I don’t really know the whole logistics of it. I know we got signed for $250,000 and seven albums, and I know now that we’re broke and that we could also get dropped at any point.”
He added that depending on the success of this release they could renegotiate everything anyway. So the original deal could still be pointless, but speaking of the record, let’s.
Tracked last fall [1989] at The Plant in Sausalito and completed in January at London Bridge, Apple is a huge album in sound, style and content. Wood paint poignant lyrical pictures within Love Bone’s distinctive instrumental fabric. Produced in connection with local session star Terry Date and mixed by a Brit, Wood tells us about the finished product.
“It’s a really weird album because when we finished it with Terry it sounded completely different than what it sounds like now because a guy by the name of
Tim Palmer got to mix it. He’s a guy from England, I’ve never met, who worked with Robert Plant’s Now and Zen record and Tin Machine’s album and he did an amazing mixing job on it. It sounds completely different.”
“I don’t know if Terry was very pleased – it was Terry’s baby and he was like ‘what did he do to my project?’ – but he made it really spacey. It sounds like I would have mixed it.”
Others were so glad to just have it completed finally after spending so much time and money that their opinions reflect… almost relief. Gilmore opines on the final mix, “I don’t know if I’m really happy with it. I’m satisfied. At first I thought, ‘that’s fine’, I didn’t care. Then I started listening to it, first time, I was ‘whatever’. Second time, I’m like, ‘I really don’t dig it’, now I’m thinkin’ it’s alright. It’s not what…”
I interject, “not the way you envisioned it?”
“Ideally, no. But Tim Palmer was the one guy that we all agreed on without hesitation on anyone’s part. He happened to be available, fine give it to him, let’s do it. If we don’t just go with this, we’re gonna end up monkeyfucking the thing until the fall of 1992.”

They’ve spent a lot of time over this past year waiting, waiting, waiting for things to happen. As soon as this does, then that will. Before their January show at Legends – just after Gilmore had cut his hair – I asked about how waiting and the anticipation was affecting them.
Gilmore: “It’s been pretty tedious lately. It’s been a lot of waiting.”
Wood: “A lot of hurry up and wait.”
Browning: “Is that what caused you to shave your head, Greg?”
Gilmore: “Actually it might have had an effect on my hairdo!”
Wood: Some of us are more anxious than others. Myself, I’m kind of really happy about this time we have right now before the tour starts, because I’ve got things to do as far as getting myself together. When we got back from Sausalito I went into rehab for thirty days, so I’m pleased to have time to feel a little more stable in the real world before we go out and assault. Then others of us are really chomping at the bit because it is a lot of sitting around.”
Browning: “But that’s really nothing new to you guys is it?”
Gilmore: “No, signing, finding a producer, recording can all take more time than you could possibly think. The one thing, I can say in our whole career so far, that happened on schedule was recording the EP, which pretty much went down on time like we had talked about it. I think we even started on it before we were signed. But then we waited for the EP to come out, we waited to go on tour, we started to look for a producer for the LP before the tour of the EP, before the release of the EP.”
Wood: “We did that real cheaply and real fast, in like, five days. Now it sounds like we recorded it in five days.”
Browning: So is the fact that you recorded Shine in five days and then spent over three months on Apple going to be pretty noticeable?”
Wood: “I think you will find that, yes, definitely.”
Browning: “Okay!”
Wood: “Without question!”

Apple has 13 songs totaling about an hour of music, including new mixes of two songs from Shine, Capricorn Sister (originally titled Mother Love Bone) and Crown of Thorns (minus Chloe Dancer). The other guitar ballad, Stargazer, and two piano ballads (Man of Golden Words and Gentle Groove) are prime examples of Wood’s haunting lyrics and immense talent as a songwriter. While the whole album is compelling, these close glimpses are captivating.
Stardog Champion and Captain Hi-Top provide rich, over-the-top anthems to sing along with as Heartshine and This Is Shangrila are good tunes to just groove to. April 17 and April 30 have both come up as release dates, love rock awaits you people. Don’t hesitate. Pick up Apple and give it a listen, always remembering that… love reigns supreme.

April 1990 City Heat Mother Love Bone 2April 1990 City Heat Mother Love Bone  April 1990 City Heat Mother Love Bone 4April 1990 City Heat Mother Love Bone 3

Mother Love Bone at The OZ Nightclub [City Heat – June 1989]

After months of writing concert reviews for local mag “Rumors and Rags” which the editor repeatedly failed to publish, I took the big step and submitted this review to the coolest magazine on the Seattle music scene (OK, most Seattle hipsters had already saddled alternative press primacy on The Rocket, but I was fresh from Oregon and still fully enmeshed in my hair metal butt rock mentality).

So my Van Halen, David Lee Roth and Styx reviews never hit print, but my brain was already moving in a new direction. Seattle’s next wave was coalescing right under foot.

MOTHER LOVE BONE
MAY 4, 1989
THE OZ NIGHTCLUB

We stepped into the Oz just as Love Bone stormed the tiny stage with the first song from their EP, “Thru Fade Away”.  Jeff’s bass intro filled the hall with as much power as any band who plays the Coliseum, and you can bet (your sweet ass) that these guys are arena-bound.

Looming larger than life, center stage was Dallas fan, Andrew Wood, sporting a Cowboy’s jersey and the ever present chartreuse green.  Bruce and Stone both were looking unusual
with their hair gathered up in a top-side tail.

They broke into a set of material I presume will be on the album currently being recorded down in California. Included were ”Come Bite the Apple”, “China”, and the surreal rocker ”This Is Shangri-La”, which, by the way, is just a killer song-it’s still runnin’ thru my skull.

When they played KISW’s hit single “Half-Ass Monkey Boy”, the crowd really got into it and the slam-dancers up front opened the pit, keeping the numerous fine skirts there on the outskirts. To settle things down a bit, they countered with a personal favorite, “Crown of Thorns”. Landrew the Love Child then introduced “Capricorn Sister” as ‘the bonus track’ (like it appears on the tape). Rounding out the set were a couple more unreleased tunes ”Holy Roller” and ”Stardog”.

Then it was Queen’s “I’m in Love With My Car” for a well-received, glitzy encore.  Tho they got loads of flash, they’re no flash in the pan, like Wood’s exiting words of wisdom, ”Love reigns Supreme!” As does Love Bone.

Watch for the LP later this summer, in the meantime, pick up Shine
and keep an eye out for Andy and the boys’ next local show. They are a must-see event!

Mother Love Bone are: Vocals; Andrew Wood, Guitars; Stone Gossard
and Bruce Fairweather, Bass; Jeff Ament, Percussion; Greg Gilmore.
# # #

1989.05.04 Mother Love Bone at Oz NightclubAt the OZ, I bought my first Seattle band shirt “Do What You Do” featuring the Shine EP cover art at the merch table. Wore that shirt out over the years (later, Ament gave me one of the “Air Love Bone” white long sleeves that became my absolute favorite shirt, alas, gone).

A few months later, I was so struck by Shine and the power coming from the scene (seeing Alice In Chains open for MLB both at The Central Tavern in Pioneer Square and down at The Satyricon in Portland) that when they played the big stage at Bumbershoot Labor Day weekend, I made a sign using the EP’s artwork and combining the titles of my favorite songs. In the following video you can see my orange painted “Chloe’s Crown” sign.

After I chucked it onstage Andy Wood picked it up and positioned it just before sitting down to the piano for the tracks. I was already deeply in love with the man and his message:

Love Rock awaits you people! Lo and behold.