What was the first Skin Yard gig?
Our first gig was on June 7th, 1985. We opened for the "U-men leave home" show at the Odd Fellows Hall here in Seattle. U-men headlined. Other bands on the bill included Girl Trouble, the F-holes, and Baba Yaga. Prior to that, there had been a series of basement party gigs, but the "U-men leave home" show was the first official gig for us in front of a paying audience.
Your guitar player, Jack Endino recorded Nirvana's first record, Bleach?
Indeed he did, but even before that, he recorded their first demo, most of which ended up on the Insesticide record. One of the songs from that demo, "Mexican Seafood," was released on the Teriyaki Asthma Vol. I single on C/Z, and was the first ever Nirvana song released. Dale Crover (borrowed from the Melvins) played drums on that demo, and it was that tape which led to Sub Pop signing them, eventually releasing Bleach, which, yes, Jack recorded.
Is it true that Nirvana opened for Skin Yard a bunch of times?
Four times in total:
-July 30, 1988, Squid Row, Seattle
-Nov. 23, 1988, Speedy O'Tubbs, Bellingham (w/Coffin Break, Nirvana opened)
-Feb. 25, 1989, Hub Ballroom UW (w/Girl Trouble, Fluid, Nirvana opened)
-May 26, 1989, Green River Community College (Bible Stud opened, Nirvana played 2nd)
At this last show with Nirvana at Green River Community College, it was pretty clear that Nirvana's popularity had eclipsed Skin Yard's and that most everybody was there to see them...and they were utterly blistering that night. The crowd were accordingly appreciative. It was not an act that anyone would want to follow. After Nirvana's set ended, the room started emptying out, and we scrambled to get set up so that we'd have some people to play to. About half of the people stayed, but we knew that Nirvana would never be opening for Skin Yard again. And they didn't.
What were some of the bands that you guys shared the stage with?
The list seems endless. Lessee.... I'm sure there are MANY missing bands from this list, but it is a decent sampling: Alice Donut, Soundgarden, Snakefinger, The Goo Goo Dolls, Green River, Poison Idea, Room Nine, TAD, Bomb, The Butthole Surfers, Redd Kross, The Beatnigs, Animal Slaves, Malfunkshun, Pure Joy, NoMeansNo, Leaving Trains, Rhythm Pigs, Coffin Break, The Thrown Ups, Melvins, Specimen, Faith No More, Death of Samantha, Treepeople, Napalm Beach, Battalion of Saints, Saccharine Trust, Flaming Lips, Vexed, The Meat Puppets, Bongwater, Saqqara Dogs, Die Kruezen, Dharma Bums and Nirvana.
What's the story with you and Soundgarden?
Not much of a story really. Skin Yard and Soundgarden were friends, and were also fans of each others music. That led to our playing a bunch of shows together. Early on, the two bands were compared to some degree as being sister bands. We always thought it seemed strange, but accepted that it was probably due to both bands having more sophisticated arrangements than most of the other bands around at that time. Soundgarden always headlined when we played together, and we'd debate at times over who had the bigger audience. Before long the answer to that question was fairly apparent. The whole thing with Matt leaving Skin Yard and joining Soundgarden was actually something of a fluke. Matt had already left Skin Yard and didn't really know what he was going to do. It was several months after Matt had left, and it looked as if Scott McCullum was going to become the new SG drummer, but by some act of providence, Matt was asked to try out. The rest is history. Scott later ended up as the drummer on two Skin Yard records, Hallowed Ground, and Fist Sized Chunks.
What's the connection between Skin Yard and C/Z?
The connection is with Daniel. Daniel owns and runs C/Z records and was also the Skin Yard bassist for six and a half of the seven years that Skin Yard was together. Appearing on the first four records as well as on all of the tracks on the new Start at the Top collection, Daniel wrote or co-wrote at least half of the music on those records. The first Skin Yard record was initially released on C/Z as it seemed that no one else was gonna step up to the plate...so the logic was, "what the hell...it can't be that hard." You'd be surprised to find out how many indie labels have had similar beginnings.
Am I mistaken, or did Skin Yard drummers all seem to go on and "make it" so to speak?
It certainly seemed that way. What can we say? We had impeccable taste in great drummers. After cutting their teeth in Skin Yard, it was only a matter of time before they would end up somewhere where their talents would find greater financial success. Matt, as you already know went on to play in Soundgarden, but has also played with Pearl Jam, Wellwater Conspiracy, Geddy Lee, and even recorded an album with Smashing Pumpkins which never saw the light of day. Jason Finn played with us after Matt, and he is best known as the drummer for The Presidents of the United States of America. Barrett has played in a whole slew of bands and projects including R.E.M., Screaming Trees, Tuatara, Mad Season, and Mark Eitzel. Had I known, I might have decided to become a drummer instead!
How come you guys don't have any tabs pages?
Basically, it's just not us. The majority of the material that we wrote came from jamming on riff ideas and then structuring songs around those ideas. None us of were classically trained, but beyond that, even once songs were written, we never really wrote anything down. If you want to figure out how to play our songs, you've got ears. Use 'em.