Subscribe to The Atlantic and get 2 free issues

The Only Black Guy at the Indie Rock Show

Loving alternative music, but feeling like an outsider:

"One day in gym class, sitting on the bleachers adjacent to the football field, the popular kids in class came to sit next to me as we waited for everyone to suit up. Among hushed whispers, one of them turned around and asked me who my favorite musicians were. I rattled off Nirvana, the Ramones, and a host of third-tier grunge bands whose names I’m now far too embarrassed to mention publicly. (I’m fairly sure I also talked about how much I wanted to move to Seattle because of grunge; how I actually ended up here was by happenstance.) My intrepid interviewer smiled and mouthed 'I told you so' to his friends, who reacted with a small eruption of snide giggles.

"When I listened to rock music as a kid, it often felt like I was sneaking past the guards of racial barriers and into a cool party I wasn’t invited to. But I didn’t want to feel that way. I just wanted to enjoy the music just like everybody else."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 16, 2013
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3170 words)

The Making of 'Nevermind' (Excerpt from 'Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge')

DAVE GROHL: (Nirvana drummer; Foo Fighters singer/guitarist) “More low end! I want it to sound like the Melvins!” “It has to be heavier, heavier, heavier!” Butch was doing his best to do what Kurt wanted, and it just wasn’t turning out. BUTCH VIG: The mixes were sounding kind of muffly, and Gary Gersh and Silva came by and listened and they were like, “Let’s just get a good mix guy in, and we’ll try and keep the band away from the studio a little bit and let him do his thing.” I was like, “Cool.” So they sent over a list of all these mix guys. I showed the list to Kurt and at the bottom was Andy Wallace, and it listed Slayer first on his credits. He said, “Call that guy.” If he’d looked further on Andy’s credits, it had Madonna. If Madonna’s name had been first, Andy wouldn’t have gotten the call.
AUTHOR:Mark Yarm
PUBLISHED: Sept. 19, 2011
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3578 words)