Sub Pop Records Will Have Their Revenge on Seattle: Looking Back on 25 Years, Part 4

Janice Headley

Today, we wrap-up our series of Sub Pop Memories. (Check out previous installments here, here, and here.) Surely, new memories will be made this Saturday, July 13th at the Sub Pop Silver Jubilee in Georgetown, and you can read all about those on the KEXP Blog in the year 2038.

J Mascis at KEXP, 4/29/11 // photo credit: Brian Cullen (view set)

I remember telling Bruce and Jonathan I wanted to be taken out to dinner on top of the Space Needle. And they did and it was awesome, spinning around eating swordish with those guys. I remember buying the first Mudhoney single when it came out thinking it would be huge, then buying the first Nirvana single and leaving it at a 4th of july party in Staten Island the same day. Then seeing Nirvana with Dale from The Melvins playing drums and Tad opening in Seattle. That show was sic. I remember walking into Sub Pop with Megan at the reception desk greasing the wheels so it could all happen. I think Megan should still sit there and greet everybody.-- J. Mascis

My favorite Sup Pop memory was when they put that whole, fried fish in my toilet. I didn't find it for DAYS and it stunk the place up!!!-- David Cross

Hard to pick one great memory of Sub Pop. From putting a dead fish in the hot tub of The Roosevelt with Nils Bernstein to having Dave Rosecrans shoving drunk blokes who were grabbing at Sarah's dress in Cork, Ireland, the range and depth of activities was like a grand chasm, but I'd say some of my best times were just having a day off at Joyce Linehan's house/office in Boston. Always felt like a home away from home on the road. Plus, it was haunted, which is a bonus.-- Brian Nelson, Velocity Girl

I remember five years ago, during the Sub Pop 20th anniversary, looking up at the Space Needle and seeing the Sub Pop logo flying on top in the form of a huge flag. I was taken back some 20 odd years earlier when I worked at Muzak with Bruce Pavitt. One day during lunch, I gave Bruce a ride to a print shop just a couple of blocks from the Space Needle. He picked up a custom-made rubber stamp with that same logo; it was about one by two inches big. He used it for letterheads and the outside of packages. That logo, as well as Bruce's original concept, had come a long way in that time, I thought as I watched that flag fly high atop Seattle's best known landmark this time hundreds of feet large.

Another memory is signing our contract for Love Battery with Bruce and John. The next day, The Rocket came out with the "Sub Plop?" cover. What an amazing journey. Much love and respect to Bruce and John, as well as all who worked so hard to make Sub Pop what it is.-- Ron Nine, Love Battery

Iron & Wine at KEXP's SXSW broadcast, 3/14/13 // photo credit: Dave Lichterman (view set)

I have unlimited fond memories from my time at Sub Pop. But perhaps the most memorable was when Sam Beam called me a pussy when I refused to handwrite his lyrics for Iron & Wine's second album, Our Endless Numbered Days. I had written the song titles, which he liked, but felt the entire lyrics would be overkill. "C'mon, LeDoux! Don't be a pussy! Do it! DO IT, YOU PUSSY!" It was simultaneously flattering and funny. (For the record, I didn't handwrite the lyrics. But I did compromise and set the type in a sans serif when I preferred the look of a serif.) The world would be a better place if there were more musicians like Sam.-- Jesse LeDoux, former Art Director for Sub Pop

TAD were the single unluckiest Sub Pop band ever. First, the band’s 1990 single “Jack Pepsi” got them sued by the Pepsi-Cola company, when the sleeve featured the soft drink logo in the design. The single was pulled.

That wasn’t the end of TAD’s woes. Their 1991 album 8-Way Santa, named after a kind of blotter acid, featured a thrift store photo showing a hillbilly guy grabbing his girlfriend’s boob. The woman saw the cover and sued.

While Sub Pop usually was able to capitalize on controversy, when albums and 45s were taken off the market that was a limit even savvy Sub Pop couldn’t overcome. “We just had some really bad, bad luck,” TAD bassist Kurt Danielson once told me. I remember Tad Doyle, the band's lead singer, coming into our offices at The Rocket and saying, "What's next?"

It was bad luck for Sub Pop too, but decades later, TAD still make for a great story.-- Charles R. Cross, former editor of The Rocket

Everyone knows that no story about Sub Pop is readable without mentioning VP Megan Jasper. It's possible that not everybody would agree with me that she essentially is Sub Pop right now, but it's a fact that without her wonderfully charismatic and intuitive guidance grounding the vision of the label, Sub Pop would not be what it is today. In the spirit of celebrating Sub Pop and one of the awesome folks at the helm of it, here are a few stories that make me spray coffee out of my nose all over my computer when I think about Megan.

• Showing up nervously to my job interview in the Spring of 2002 and having my interview with Megan consist mostly of dick jokes.• Blasting “Why Did You Kill Me Mommy?”, a creepy pro-life song by a minister who made an album in a baby voice, and rolling on the ground in tears laughing with her and former publicity guy Jed Mahue in the office at 9am.• Onstage in The Shins at Sasquatch, noticing mid-song that Jed has been dancing naked right behind James on a dare by Megan.• Being in Australia with a newly-hired Carly Starr as she's wondering why the cute boy that works distribution there, whom she’d been flirting with for months and was super excited to meet, is suddenly treating her like she has herpes. (It's because Megan just told him she has herpes.)• Being convinced by Megan (and subsequently concerned) that her wonderful mother Maureen was dangerously obsessed with me.

This past winter, I saw Megan and decided to apologize for what I thought was a poor performance as an employee 11 years ago, citing my consistent arrival at work every morning in various states of non-sleep, brutal hangover, or remaining drunk from the night before. She replied “Jesus, Dave you were the best! No matter what shape you were in you were behind your desk every morning at 8:45 sharp!”

Love you guys! Congratulations Sub Pop!-- Dave Hernandez, former Sub Pop employee, former member of The Shins

The Sub Pop Silver Jubilee is this Saturday, July 13th in Georgetown. Huge thanks to Sasha Morgan, Sub Pop's Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, for her invaluable assistance on this piece!

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