Feature Index / Northwest Passage

Pearl Jam

The origin of "grunge"

The term "grunge" was almost-universally reviled by the bands it was supposed to describe. Where did the name come from? And how did it stick? A look at the etymology of grunge Read more


All your lies: myths of the northwest music scene

Was Pearl Jam part of the birth of grunge? Was Nirvana's worldwide popularity inevitable? Did Kurt Cobain's death signified the end of northwest music? We explore some of the myths around the northwest music scene. Read more

Lexicon of Grunge

The lexicon of grunge

In the early 90s, the mass media went crazy for anything "grunge," even going so far into finding out the slang of flannel-wearing kids in the northwest. And in typical Seattle fashion, they made a joke out of it Read more

Modest Mouse

Up and Away: The Ballad of Up Records

Seattle's reign as capital of the music universe was short lived, but great music continued to be made in the pacific northwest even after the peak of grunge. Up Records was one of the labels that documented the "new" Seattle scene Read more

Mr Cobain

“Going Out of Business Since 1988!”: An Oral History of Sub Pop Records

How Sub Pop – the label that brought you Nirvana and the Shins – survived constant money woes (rubber checks!), drunken rock stars (microbrews!) and grunge-era insanity (flannel!) Read more


Rock Collection: The Northwest Passage book list

The “grunge scene” made an impact on the music charts, but it also spawned a number of very good music books. Here’s some reading material for your grunge library Read more

Reciprocal Recording, Seattle

Reciprocal Recording: The Story of a Recording Studio

The small, unassuming, triangular-shaped building at 4230 Leary Way NW in Seattle might not look like much, but in its heyday, it was an epicenter for Seattle rock music Read more

Mark Lanegan and Kurt Cobain

The Jury: the story of the Cobain/Lanegan collaboration that could have been

Back before either was a household name, Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan were working on music together. This collaboration ended after a few songs, however Read more

Pearl Jam

Momma-Son and the Making of Pearl Jam

After the death of Mother Love Bone vocalist Andy Wood, Wood’s former bandmates Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were still trying to figure out their next move. This excerpt from Jessica Letkemann's mini-book explains how a series of coincidences led to the creation of Pearl Jam. Read more

Alice Mudgarden

Come Together: The Forgotten Collaborations of the “Grunge” Scene

Mad Season and Temple of the Dog may have been the two most notable grunge "supergroups" but they weren't the only ones. Read more

Sub Pop Lame Fest

Sub Pop Rock City: the story of the first Sub Pop Lame Fest

On June 9, 1989, Sub Pop hosted a showcase at the 1,400-capacity Moore Theatre with Nirvana, Tad and Mudhoney. The sold-out show would be the first time any of the bands had played to an audience that large. It wouldn’t be the last. Read more


The ugly truth: 10 things you need to know about the Seattle music scene

Once "grunge" hit the big time, it took a life of its own, and liberties were taken with the truth about Seattle and the so-called "grunge" scene. We attempt to correct the record Read more


Better Days and Better Moments: The Story of Seaweed

Not quite part of the Seattle scene, Tacoma, Washington’s Seaweed was nonetheless sucked up in the whole grunge thing in the early 90s. This is the complete story of the punk band that made a career on the outskirts of Seattle’s city limits -- and its success Read more


Deep Sixed: The Making of the First Grunge Compilation

The Deep Six compilation has become the stuff of legend in the Seattle music scene as one of the first important records in the history of “grunge.” It shouldn’t be a surprise considering considering the lineup. But back in 1986 when it was released, Deep Six was ignored for the most part. Read more

Poneman and Pavitt, Sub Pop

The Grunge Years: Sub Pop and the Quest toward World Domination

Even before Nirvana made them rich, Sub Pop founders Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt always had big goals for their label. This excerpt from Gillian Gaar's World Domination: The Sub Pop Records Story looks at the early days of the influential label. Read more

Pearl Jam vs.

Five Against One: the Story of Pearl Jam's vs.

In 1993, Pearl Jam released their much-anticipated follow-up to their hit debut album, Ten. In this excerpt from Clint Brownlee's vs. (part of the 33⅓ series), we see how their second album was a massive success - almost despite the band's efforts Read more


How Push Came to Shove: the Little-Known Rise of Gruntruck

The act’s original manager (and storied Seattle record store owner) relates the enduring impact and legacy of “the most underrated band in Seattle music history” Read more