By Shwa Laytart Anything But Nirvana By Eric Gladstone Before there was music streaming and click-bait journalism driven by SEO words, a music junkie had to put in the work to find the latest underground and independent bands that were changing the landscape of music here in America. For this, we needed journalists who […]
By Shwa Laytart
Anything But Nirvana By Eric Gladstone
Before there was music streaming and click-bait journalism driven by SEO words, a music junkie had to put in the work to find the latest underground and independent bands that were changing the landscape of music here in America. For this, we needed journalists who were also music junkies, that were putting in the work to introduce us to the latest bands and were willing to peel back the layers to discover who these bands were and what drives their creativity. In the 90s, one of the best journalists attacking this job like a hungry hyena was Eric Gladstone. Eric’s writing style is animated, soulful, and just as exciting as the bands he interviews. Anything But Nirvana is a collection of those articles sprinkled with parts and pieces left out by editors and each with a retrospective preface that adds even more depth to what are already detailed and insightful articles from Rock’s last great era.
Although Nirvana was not in the book, Anything But opens up with a rejection letter from an assistant editor of Request magazine. The 1992 letter reads in part: Dear Eric, Thanks for giving Face the Music some thoughts. Unfortunately… Nirvana will be ancient history by the time the issue we are currently working on hits the stands in April.
Although Eric never got that Nivana article, his eclectic ear for music and his ability to tell an informative and captivating story guided him through dozens of fantastical articles on cutting-edge bands of independent music. Eric’s articles created millions of devoted fans for an era of music that is still permeating through our culture today.
Eric’s very first article may have begun the extremely devoted fanbase of the enigmatic band Ween. The article wasn’t a paid gig, but it was a chance to make it in Alternative Press, give voice to his friend Mickey’s band, and thus taking Ween nationally for the first time. When the article came out in 1990 I’m pretty sure none of them, not Alternative Press, Ween or Eric could see the future they would help design.
One of my many favorite articles of Eric’s covers the band Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and the peace-poet, singer Michael Franti. In the 90s, living in California and a fan of all forms of hiphop’s evolution, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy combined hiphop with what, at the time, I thought was industrial music- powertools, and dragging chains over metal. Along with beats and samples that became the soundtrack under the words of a younger, more angry Franti, whose anti-establishment lyrics I so desperately craved and seldom heard. Frontrunners of a sound that was so cutting edge most journalists avoided. Lucky for us, we had a hungry hyena.
Another band I fell in love with, while driving through the hills of the Central Coast, higher than the setting sun on some outdoor Indica, was Monster Magnet. Their first album, Spine of God was a potion that swirled in my whole body. In a time of grunge, Monster Magnet was heavy metal drugged-out cosmic stoner music that was like no other. I really liked grunge, but I absolutely loved Monster Magnet. So when I was lucky enough to find an article on them, I would be just as astonished as stoked. Eric was one of those few and far-between journalists that did just that. And the article does not disappoint, whatsoever.
If you happen to be a grunge fan, well the Godfather of Grunge (no, not Nirvana) Mudhoney is in the book, too.
I would be lying if I said that I was not a total Beastie Boy head. The week when the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique came out, I walked miles to get a cassette tape of the band’s second, and landmark album. Well, a landmark in my mind but at the time, it was hard to find someone who agreed. Luckily I wasn’t alone. Eric was also a major fan and had multiple interviews with the three amigos at one of their most crucial points of their musical career, Check Your Head. Eric was so well-liked by the Beasties that he would go on to be the editor of the short-lived Grand Royal magazine. But that’s another story. Eric’s article is an inside look at what it would feel like to be hanging with the Boys, and it will give you warm fuzzies, even if you were never a fan.
But the Beastie Boys may never have continued past License To Ill if it weren’t for The Dust Brothers. Once again, Eric finds his way into friendship with two of the greatest mixmasters on the planet and gets an intimate look into the magic they were creating. The Dust Brothers would then introduce Eric to a fresh young talent they were working with who was going by the name of Beck.
Gwar, Sonic Youth, Dr. Octagon…
The thing is, these are just some of my favorite articles. With over thirty articles on emerging bands of that era, you will no doubt find a few of your own, providing stories you’ve never heard, or at least forgotten. I suggest you spark up and kick back with a copy of your own. This book is worth Reading Lit!
To hear my podcast interview with Eric Gladstone go to Avantpop Bookstore Presents on Spotify, on YouTube (with video) or wherever you listen to podcasts. Pick up a signed copy of Anything But Nirvana at Avantpop Bookstore in Las Vegas or at avantpopbooks.com