Green River was an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1984. Although the band had very little commercial impact outside its native Seattle, it proved to have significant influence on the genre later known as grunge, both with its own music and with the music its members would create in future bands including Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. Green River reunited for several live shows in 2008 and 2009.
Green River was formed in 1984 by vocalist/guitarist Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, drummer Alex Vincent and bassist Jeff Ament. Guitarist Stone Gossard joined the band later to allow Arm to concentrate on singing.
Vincent, Turner, and Gossard (as well as future Presidents of the United States of America drummer Jason Finn) attended the Northwest School together in Seattle. Prior to joining Green River, each member had played with punk and hardcore groups. Arm and Turner had played together in both Mr Epp & The Calculations and the Limp Richerds. Turner had also performed with Vincent in Spluii Numa, and Gossard in March of Crimes  and The Ducky Boys.
In early 1984, Vincent, Turner, and Arm decided to form a new band. They asked Ament to join after his band at the time, Deranged Diction, had broken up. They called the band Green River, taking their name from the Green River Killer, a serial killer who was infamous in Washington state. Gossard joined shortly thereafter. "We knew we wanted Ament," said Vincent. "Stone was in another band with Jonathan Evison called March of Crimes. [Stone] got fired and we picked him up just before we recorded the first demo."
By late 1984, the band was playing shows in and around Seattle. The band began production in December 1984 on its first record, Come on Down, which is cited by many as the first grunge record. By the time the band finished the record in early 1985, Turner had left the group, citing his distaste with the rest of the band's heavy metal leanings. He was replaced by former Deranged Diction guitarist Bruce Fairweather.
In mid-1985, the band embarked on its first nationwide tour to promote Come on Down. Release of the record was delayed, however, thus negating the purpose of the tour. From all accounts the experience was less than positive, though it helped cement alliances with other emerging American indie rock bands. Among them was Sonic Youth, who later quoted the song "Come on Down" on its own composition "Nevermind (What Was It Anyway)". After the tour, Come on Down was finally released by the New York-based Homestead Records. The record was released to little fanfare, and did not sell well. However it is often considered the first album to be released by a "grunge" band, as it predated both the Deep Six compilation album and the Melvins' debut album.
In 1986, the band continued to play in and around the Pacific Northwest to steadily larger crowds (especially in the band's hometown of Seattle). Early in the year, the now legendary Deep Six compilation album was released on the local C/Z Records label. Alongside two Green River songs, the compilation features the music of fellow Washington bands Soundgarden, Melvins, Malfunkshun, Skin Yard and the U-Men. Kathleen C. Fennessy of Allmusic stated that the compilation "documents a formative period in Northwest rock history".
Sample of the 1986 Green River track "This Town" off Dry as a Bone. Characteristic of the band are heavy distortion and Arm's frenetic vocals.
In June 1986, the band began production on its second EP, Dry as a Bone, with local producer Jack Endino. Green River chose to record Dry as a Bone for Bruce Pavitt's new label, Sub Pop. However, Pavitt couldn't afford to release it until the following year, and, as had happened with Come on Down, the record was delayed. In the meantime the band issued the one-off "Together We'll Never" single on the local Tasque Force Records label. Dry as a Bone was finally released through Sub Pop in July 1987, a full year after it was recorded. It was the new label's first non-compilation release. Dry as a Bone was promoted by Sub Pop as "ultra-loose GRUNGE that destroyed the morals of a generation". Steve Huey of Allmusic called it Green River's "strongest individual release...perfecting their sleazy, raucous fusion of '70s hard rock and post-hardcore punk".
Almost immediately following the release of Dry as a Bone, the group re-entered the studio to begin production on its first full-length album, Rehab Doll. Band in-fighting, though, took center stage over the music. A stylistic division developed between Ament and Gossard on one side, and Arm on the other. Ament and Gossard wanted to pursue a major-label deal, while Arm wanted to remain independent, viewing the duo as being too careerist. The in-fighting came to a head following an October 1987 show in Los Angeles, California. Apparently, without informing the group, Ament had filled the show's guest list with major label representatives, instead of the band's friends; nonetheless only two of the representatives appeared. On October 31, 1987, Ament, Gossard and Fairweather stated their desire to quit the band. Although the band members agreed to complete production of Rehab Doll during the next three months, Green River had by late October 1987 ceased as a band. Rehab Doll was released in June 1988. Ned Raggett of Allmusic called it "a record that sounded caught somewhere between grunge mania and metal/corp rock folly".
A Green River reunion occurred on November 30, 1993 during a Pearl Jam concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. Participating in the reunion were Arm, Turner, Gossard, Ament and Chuck Treece, who filled in on drums for Vincent, who at that time was living in Japan. The band performed the songs "Swallow My Pride" and "Ain't Nothing to Do" before leaving the stage. Green River reunited for four shows in 2008. The line-up for the shows included Ament, Arm, Turner, Vincent, Gossard, and Fairweather. The first show was a warm-up show on July 10, 2008 at the Sunset Tavern in Seattle. The band next played on July 13, 2008 at Marymoor Park near Seattle to honor Sub Pop's 20th anniversary. Green River played another live show on November 28, 2008 at Dante's in Portland, Oregon. Afterward, the band played on November 29, 2008 at the Showbox in Seattle to celebrate the Supersuckers' 20th anniversary. Green River played on May 22, 2009 and May 23, 2009 at the Showbox in Seattle to celebrate the Melvins' 25th anniversary.
After the break-up, Arm and Turner began rehearsing together. They recruited bassist Matt Lukin (formerly of Melvins) and drummer Dan Peters (of Bundle of Hiss and Feast) to form Mudhoney in January 1988. Mudhoney quickly gained popularity in the Seattle scene, with debut releases "Touch Me I'm Sick" and Superfuzz Bigmuff receiving positive reviews in the music press. Since releasing its debut album in 1989, Mudhoney has recorded a further nine albums and continues to tour.
Following the demise of Green River in late 1987, Gossard, Ament and Fairweather formed the short-lived covers band Lords of the Wasteland with Malfunkshun frontman Andrew Wood. By early 1988 the Lords of the Wasteland had become Mother Love Bone. Mother Love Bone quickly rose to popularity in the Seattle scene, and were about to release its debut album in 1990, when Wood fatally overdosed on heroin. That same year, Ament and Gossard (along with Chris Cornell, Matt Cameron, Mike McCready, and a guest appearance by Eddie Vedder) recorded the Andrew Wood tribute album Temple of the Dog (amidst the formation of the band Pearl Jam), which went on to achieve international mainstream success. After Temple of the Dog, Gossard and Ament founded Pearl Jam along with Mike McCready of Shadow, Eddie Vedder of Bad Radio, and Dave Krusen. Pearl Jam rocketed to fame with its debut album Ten and is still active today. Pearl Jam has released ten studio albums in total and continues to tour.
Fairweather joined Gossard and Ament as a member of Mother Love Bone. Following the band's demise, he replaced Tommy Simpson on bass in the psychedelic rock band Love Battery in 1992. He played on two of the band's albums and many of its tours before leaving that band as well and dropping off the radar. In 2006, he resurfaced in The Press Corps, with Garret Shavlik (The Fluid) and Dan Peters (Mudhoney). Vincent, Green River's drummer, moved to Japan after the break-up and did not return to the United States for many years. He now plays in his own band, Ex's With Benefits (with vocalist Dmitra Smith – a high school classmate of Gossard, Turner and Vincent's).
Green River made very little commercial impact outside Seattle, but what the band lacked in commercial success it made up for in influence. In general, Green River is widely regarded as being one of the originators of the genre later known as grunge. With its sludgy mix of hard rock, punk and metal, heavily influenced by The Stooges, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith, coupled with Arm's twisted lyrics and vocal delivery, Green River greatly influenced both its peers and bands that followed them. Even without the fact that some of its members would later go on to form some of the biggest bands of the Northwest music scene, Green River is still remembered for its musical foresight and innovation, years ahead of the rise of grunge.
|1990||Dry as a Bone/Rehab Doll
|1985||Come on Down
|1987||Dry As a Bone
|1986||"Together We'll Never"/"Ain't Nothing to Do"||Non-album single|
"Searchin' (Good Things Come)"
|Motor City Madness||Glitterhouse|
|Sub Pop 200||Sub Pop|
|Another Pyrrhic Victory: The Only Compilation of Dead Seattle God Bands||C/Z|
"Ain't Nothing to Do"
"Swallow My Pride" (1987 demo)
|Hype!: The Motion Picture Soundtrack||Sub Pop|