"There hasn't been anything real since grunge. That was the last movement led by music or an art form." - Daphne Guinness
Without even the slightest morsel of a doubt, grunge as a subculture defined the alternative 90s, both musically and culturally.
This decidedly lo-fi, unpolished, unapologetic Seattle-born sub-culture spawned some of the world's most significant musical and pop culture icons without trying. And there are very few people in the world that haven't heard a good grunge song - even if they don't quite know it.
Like all history-moulding sub-cultures, grunge has influenced generation after generation of bands and artists - and from those grunge revivalists, there have been some notable bands, some of which you no doubt admire.
Now, if you're into grunge and post-grunge and you want to start your own grunge revival band, taking the genre to potentially new and dizzying heights, you're going to want to do it properly. If you don't, you'll look like a fool.
Grunge is an unpretentious artform so if you're going to start a grunge revival band; you need to be authentic. And we're going to tell you how.
Know Your Grunge Onions
We are sure you're well versed on the origins of grunge and the music that changed the world. But, if you do have a few gaps in your knowledge (e.g. all you have is an old 'Nevermind' CD and Pearl Jam's 'Ten' on .mp3, both excellent albums but there's far more out there) - here is a quick-fire LP listening list for you:
- Gruntruck - Pushed (1992)
- Stone Temple Pilots - Core (1992)
- Nirvana - Bleach (1989)
- Green River - Rehab Doll (1989)
- Melvins - Gluey Porch Treatment (1987)
- Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger (1991)
These seminal albums are just the tip of the iceberg but they’ll get you deep into the realms of grunge, allowing that authenticity to wash over you like a warm beer at a dive bar gig night. And, to really immerse yourself in the genre, read this tribute to the one and only Kurt Cobain.
Know Your Grunge Revival Onions
Many say that when Kurt died, so did grunge - in its original form anyway. But it wasn't long before a new wave of grunge-influenced bands crawled from beneath the cracks, sparking a post-grunge movement.
Now, it's worth noting that there have been many posers and stinkers from the grunge revival camp in recent years (the kind you're obviously trying to avoid being one of) - so to help you get inspired in the right way, here is a grunge-revival album listening list:
- Bush - Sixteen Stone (1994)
- Silverchair - Frogstomp (1995)
- The Gracious Few - Self-Titled (2010)
- Creed – Human Clay (1998
These albums, in particular, have all of the ingredients that make an authentic post-grunge or grunge revival act - offering a mix of originality, urgent delivery, arrangement, honesty and raw production. Listen away, mould your musical intentions, then pick up your instrument and start to create, create, create.
Which brings us to our next part…
Achieve the Right Sound
If you’re reading this, we’re guessing you can already play an instrument and you have some grasp on musical arrangement. If you don’t, spend six months learning, hard, then come back and continue reading from...here.
Okay, if you’re clued up on your grunge history, you know the bands inside out, your musical loins are burning with inspiration, you’ve assembled your members (presumably a vocalist, drummer, bassist and guitarist) and you have a few riffs in the bank - the next thing you need to do is achieve that authentic grunge sound.
Of course, grunge is all about self-expression and putting your middle finger up to convention, so you should always add your own twist to anything you create, or try to emulate.
But, as a start, here is a curated list of videos that will help you attack your playing the right way, choose the right rig and give you the boost you need to get started:
- Drums: A grunge drumming exhibition (how to make your cheap drum kit sound amazing
- Guitar A Nirvana guitar tone tutorial
- Vocals: How to sing with distortion and rasp
- Bass: A simple grunge and punk bass lesson
- Sound like: How to sound like Alice in Chains without busting the bank
- Take your time looking through these resources, put together your rig and practice your hearts out - let the fun begin!
Get the Grunge Look
You know what your grunge heroes look like, but here's a piece of advice: don't imitate their look, item for item. If you do this you'll be nothing but a glorified tribute act (goodbye credibility).
Whatever you choose, be bold and brave enough to put your own stamp on it and for inspiration, check out everything you need to know about grunge fashion, plus this piece on grunge music and big knits. These two must-reads will enlighten you on the authentic grunge style.
Oh, and if you’re ready to grab yourself some new grungy garments, we have a whole section dedicated to this wonderfully pure, bold and gritty subculture.
"Whatever your walk of life is, I think you have to be real about it." - Eddie Vedder
We hope our guide to starting an authentic grunge revival band has steered you in the righteous direction and when you’re up, running and making that sweet, sweet noise, please share your pics and music with us on Facebook and Instagram.
Good luck (not that you’ll need it).