Fascinating account of the period following Nirvana’s Nevermind during which record companies booted their flagship pop and hair metal acts to the curb in favor of noisy “bands with one-word titles, like Truckdriver.”
Ah, those heady last days of the seven-album-deal-with-“recoupable”-advance.
Too much good stuff to quote:
Every major label sent platoons of A&R scouts all over the world, armed with yearly expense budgets of up to $100,000 to wine and dine every halfway-decent (or sometimes not-decent-at-all) band in flannel shirts making dissonant guitar noise. Helmet, an unknown band that had Nirvana’s bludgeoning power but none of its radio-friendly melodies, signed to Interscope Records for a reported $1 million. Dave Katznelson, a Warner Bros. Records A&R vice president, paid In the Red Records’ Larry Hardy $5,000 per band to simply alert him to new discoveries, such as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Virgin Records spent more than $1 million on Royal Trux, not realizing there were only two people in the band; Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty had to scramble to find musicians to back them so they could play a showcase at Los Angeles’ Viper Room, on the Sunset Strip, for the many label scouts involved in that bidding war.
Content warning, for details on the death of Mia Zapata. But also: a twist ending worth getting to.