While the role played by Seattle’s Sub Pop record label in the development of US alternative rock in the ‘80s and ‘90s is undeniable, music historians tend to focus upon the contributions made by Green River, Mudhoney, Soundgarden and Nirvana in pushing the Pacific NorthWest’s ‘underground’ music scene into the public consciousness.
At the tail end of the 1980s however, it was Seattle four piece Tad – fronted by the charismatic Tad Doyle – who were considered the scene’s brightest hopes: indeed when [now defunct] UK magazine Sounds elected to preview Sub Pop’s 1989 Heavier Than Heaven tour, it was Tad rather than their tourmates Nirvana, who were chosen as the issue’s cover stars. Some 27 years on, Tad Doyle continues to make awe-inspiring, heavyweight music, and his ‘new’ band Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – who released their excellent self-titled debut album through Neurot Recordings last year – kick off their first European tour in London on April 2.
TeamRock caught up with Doyle at his Witch Ape Studio in Seattle for his guide to the finest sounds currently rattling his stereo speakers…
YOB – Clearing The Path To Ascend (2014)
Tad: “This is such a heavy record, but beautiful and lush at the same time. I’ve been a big fan of Yob for a long time, their riffing and song structures are so powerful. We’ve played many shows with them, and I actually recorded [frontman] Mike Scheidt’s solo acoustic record Stay Awake a few years ago. They’ve been around a long time and have a great catalogue, but I think Clearing The Path To Ascend is the finest record they’ve put out to date.”
LEVIATHAN – Scar Sighted (2015)
“Leviathan is a one man American black metal band, a vehicle for a guy called Wrest [Jef Whitehead] who lives in Portland, Oregon and is married to our friend Stevie Floyd, who was in Dark Castle and Taurus. They’re really good people and he is an amazing songwriter. This record is amazing. It was mixed by Billy Anderson [Melvins/Neurosis/Sleep] who also did our self-titled record, and I think it’s a masterpiece, it was my favourite record of 2015.”
JERRY GOLDSMITH – Planet Of The Apes OST (1968)
“I’m a really big fan of orchestral music and I get a lot of inspiration from it. This soundtrack is just amazing, it’s creepy and unsettling, and I just love it. I’m into longer pieces of music now, music that has variations and movements, not the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-outro pop song structure, and the ambience and tones and percussion on this record is something any musician could learn from.”
EDGARD VARESE – Complete Works (1998)
“This is a two-CD set from a French composer who I first heard about in high school because my music teacher mentioned him to me. He spent much of his life in the US and he was the first modern composer to use synthesisers in his music, which I found very intriguing. You would see a lot of shared themes between that Planet of the Apes soundtrack and Edgard Varese, his music is pretty amazing stuff. He’s my favourite composer of all time.”
NEUROSIS – The Eye Of Every Storm (2004)
“This is one of my favourite Neurosis albums, and the song that really got me was Burn: it actually brought me to tears the first time I heard it, it provoked an emotional response, which for me is always really important in music. Neurosis are just an incredible band, every record they have is amazing to me. These guys have always been cutting edge, they’re true originals, and I think that’s why a lot of musicians love them. We’re honoured to be on their label, and they’re still a band that inspire me.”
VERDUN – The Eternal Drift’s Canticles (2016)
“Verdun are a French band who came from the hardcore scene, but are playing sludgier, slower material now: I just mixed this record, which is coming out soon. I’m really proud of the work that they did, and pretty happy with the work that I did too. I love their guitar textures, the drumming is wide open, the bass is low and deep and the vocals have a good variation between screaming and actual singing.”
ABBATH – Abbath (2016)
“I’ve always been a fan of Immortal, who had a great energy, and Abbath is obviously a very intelligent human being, and funny too: you have to admire a guy in corpse paint who can make jokes and have a laugh at himself. My wife has been playing this record a lot and it’s really growing on me: I love music that sinks in slowly with every listen, and I’m really enjoying getting deeper into this.”
CHERUBS – 2 ynfynyty (2015)
“Cherubs are a great band who came from the Austin, Texas psychedelic noise scene in the ‘90s and this is their new record: it’s so good. If you were ever a fan, this is everything you ever loved about Cherubs and more. No-one expected this record, it took everyone by surprise when it came out, but it’s dirty in the best way, and a perfect 10 record for me.”
JOY DIVISION – Closer (1980)
“A classic. I loved this when it came out and it still resonates to this day, it’s so deep and emotional for me. When I was growing up in Boise [Idaho] I played with a lot of musicians and everyone was really excited when this came out. I was a fan of Warsaw, and the depth of pain and sorrow that Ian [Curtis] would display in his vocals was just monumental.”
SUMA – Ashes (2010)
“This is a band from Sweden who have big riffs and a great sense of dynamics and atmosphere: it’s dark and plodding and really good. I grew up listening to The Beatles on AM radio and since then I’ve always wanted to discover new music. I’ve been blessed to record a lot of bands at my studio and when you talk to other musicians you’ll always get turned on to new bands.”
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth begin a two week European tour at London’s Black Heart on April 2. For more information, click here.
For more on Tad, the band, check out the excellent 2008 documentary Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears here.