What if you lived in a place where it rained nearly all the time, where going outside was uncomfortable, at the very least. You’d probably stay inside and write computer software code (the Microsoft option) or sit in your basement and practice guitar (the Rock option). The Grunge movement, which originated in the northwest and was tagged the “Seattle Sound.” Given the often-gray environment, the songs also had a certain bleakness to them. As if a dark cloud were hanging overhead. And much like the Punk movement, a decade earlier, this music provided a voice to disenfranchised young people who saw little opportunity.
But there was another factor that led to the creation and development of Grunge. The Seattle area had local record labels that fostered the scene. The most successful was Sub-Pop. Like Sun Records, nearly three decades earlier, Sub-Pop was the central cog for the new sound. Though Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden eventually signed with major labels, they wouldn’t have gone far without Sub-Pop’s support.
Arriving like a violent storm or rabid dog, Grunge marked its territory: the ’90s. Everyone in Seattle, except the mayor who was on a trade mission to Japan, jumped on the Grunge bandwagon. And why not? Who hasn’t felt “stupid and contagious?” Grunge was all about angst. Besides, a large chunk of a generation was walking around feeling left out or left behind. The “Gen-X” term was so condescending. The ultimate Brand X: vastly inferior to the real thing. But just who was the real thing?
It all got to be too much, so Cobain exited. The media wrote Grunge’s obit and moved on even though Grunge groups continued – for a while.