I somehow got sucked into watching this documentary about the Foo Fighters yesterday. I have a generally neutral attitude toward Dave Grohl and his band; I vaguely thought he was an interesting guy, based on the fact that he later did some work with Lemmy and other heavy metal icons in Probot, and he could have just fucked off after his time with Nirvana and played golf or something, but he decided to keep going with music and keep grinding it out, which is more endearing to me.
I was probably too busy trying to collect every obscure Carcass bootleg to really pay attention through most of the Foo Fighters’ rise, but I found a lot of the music in it oddly familiar. Back when I worked at Spry, a fair amount of CD swapping went on when we spent long hours locked in our respective offices, and someone had a copy of the band’s first album, which I must have spent some time playing while toiling away at whatever Windows Help project I was screwing with at the time. I think I also heard a lot of the songs on the radio back in the late 90s.
That part of the documentary set off the nostalgia works in me, the stock shots of mid-90s Seattle that reminded me of my time there. I lived in two different Seattles, and one was those cutaway shots of Belltown coffee houses and the old Moore Theater and a monorail in the background, the Seattle of Singles and Sub-Pop bands and freaky art galleries and experimental films in the back of the Speakeasy bar and grill where 17 people showed up to watch a video of a guy from Idaho dressed as a very unconvincing Olivia Newton John singing badly at a talent show. (Seriously.)
(The other Seattle was the one that, I think, made me eventually leave, which was the October to March solid grey sky and pissing rain and constant 48 degrees depression. I liked my time in Seattle greatly, but that part of it, that seasonal affective disorder catalyst really put the zap on me, made the walls close in on me. I think if I would have moved to a bigger apartment, would have gotten into the habit of jumping on a flight to Vegas for a 4-day weekend every once in a while, and would have bought a full-spectrum light, I probably would have hung in for much longer. But I didn’t, and I lasted four years.)
I used to listen to a lot of radio back then, which seems strange to me now, especially since radio has all but died. But between tapes, I’d listen to 107.7, which was the big “grunge” station in the 90s, when Seattle was the capitol of alt-music fame. I never really got into grunge, and by the time of my arrival in 1995, the movement had all but died, but Marco Collins and the rest of the KNDD staff still pumped out a lot of now-classic alt-rock that got stuck in my subconscious. I had my own very specific programming for writing and in-car music, but I would fall back to whatever The End played, especially during late nights.
I remember many Fridays when I’d do the usual routine of Denny’s and Tower and Borders and back home for hours and hours of trying to write these god damned books. I’d load up my 6+1 CD changer, and after those ran through, I’d flip on the radio. And all of these songs would play: Smashing Pumpkins, Presidents of the United States, Everclear, Beck, Garbage. And the Foo Fighters would always appear in the mix too. At that point, that late at night, or early in the morning, I wouldn’t be paying any attention to the lyrics or artists or whatever, because I’d be so burned into the words and the muse, but now I hear some of those old songs and it reminds me of those late nights, trying to get the rest of a chapter done before the automatic sprinklers seven stories down would switch on and fill the background with their hissing and clicking, signaling that it was once again 5:00 AM and the sun would start burning across the horizon and it was time for me to dose up on Tylenol PM and quit for the night.