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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Sep 2019 > SEATTLE SYNDROME


Sub Pop, the greatest grunge-exporter of them all, turns 30 this year. Gareth Murphy meets Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman, the men behind the legendary Seattle label

The student quickly came to realise how “England’s indie infrastructure was far ahead of the US. NME had an indie chart. John Peel and the BBC were playing indie releases. In contrast, there was no central media outlet in the US that was doing the same.” And so, while still at college, Pavitt began the Subterranean Pop fanzine to review releases and create the first US Indie Charts. In 1981, he shortened its title to Sub Pop and began alternating the fanzine with a mixtape of interesting alternative bands – mostly from America’s smaller cities.

But Pavitt was not the only college DJ barking up the same tree. Further upstate, in Seattle’s University of Washington, there were other alt-rockers bumping into each other at KCMU, Seattle’s publicly funded station. Among them was Jonathan Poneman, another Midwestern rebel who would later join Pavitt as Sub Pop’s co-boss. Having grown up near Detroit, he got kicked out of a boarding school in Michigan before landing the right way up Seattle. “I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out”, Poneman says of middle America. “The Northwest enchants nomads, dreamers and outsiders. It’s a place where people came to escape and reinvent themselves.”

A cloudy town with soft summers and rainy winters, Seattle is built on seven hills between an isthmus and a lake. “When I moved in 1983”, says Pavitt of his post-college years, “Seattle was still very working class. Rents were affordable, dining options were affordable. It was relaxed and unpretentious. There was no money, but people had fun.” Another key witness is Jack Endino, a drummer who would later produce nearly all of the seminal bands on Sub Pop. “The biggest employer was the port itself”, he explains. “You had the shipyards, military contractors, Boeing and the many US military bases.” Beyond this backdrop of docklands, plane factories and sprawling blue collar suburbs, a vast wilderness of forests, wheat fields and mountains stretched for thousands of miles.

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About Long Live Vinyl

It's Just Rock 'N' Roll! Issue 30 of Long Live Vinyl celebrates the 25th anniversary of Oasis' stellar debut album, Definitely Maybe. Our exclusive collector's covers, shot by Oasis photographer Michael Spencer Jones, allow you to choose between Noel and Liam editions – or buy both! Inside, some of the band's closest allies talk us through the making of an album that sold 7 million copies and changed the face of British guitar music. In our packed interviews section, we sit down with Black Francis to hear why new Pixies album Beneath The Eyrie is among the best records they've ever made, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard take a rare break from recording to talk us through their new LP, Infest The Rats' Nest. Elsewhere, we meet one of the hottest new bands of 2019, WH Lung, and the founders of Sub Pop, the Seattle label that put grunge on the map. You'll also find an in-depth look at Talking Heads' 1979 classic Fear Of Music as well as 40 Essential Dream Pop albums to add to your collection. If all that's not enough, we bring you the most comprehensive range of new album, reissue, turntable and hi-fi reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers. Pick up your copy today…