Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard has completed an album by his side band, Shame, which also includes vocalist Shawn Smith, bassist Jeremy Toback and drummer Regan Hagar. Gossard, who has shorn his trademark long hair and dyed the remaining stubble blond, jams with Shame between Pearl Jam commitments. The band, which is said to be more raw and folky than Pearl Jam, has never played live and doesn't plan to. The album, written and recorded in a little more than two weeks, will be released on Epic Records in March, about the time Pearl Jam starts recording its next album in San Francisco. That album is scheduled for release in July but may be delayed if the current "Ten" continues to do well (it's been on the Billboard album chart for 13 months, and is still in the Top Ten - by the way, it has now spent more weeks in the Top Ten than Nirvana's "Nevermind" did).
-- Alice in Chains continues to be the latest media darling from Seattle. Musician, the classiest music magazine, features the foursome in its February issue, and writer Marisa Fox pries some provocative quotes out of them. "We're happy not to be associated with the Seattle scene," says guitarist Jerry Cantrell. "We're not a trend. We came out before it all exploded. Most people think of us as an L.A. band anyway, because we always record there." Fox doesn't buy it, though. "In a strange way," she counters, "they are pure Seattle, as doom and gloom as the weather." The piece also reveals that, in addition to lead singer Layne Staley's leg injury from a three-wheeler accident, Cantrell was also injured on the last tour, slashing his hand while trying to open a bottle of Gatorade, and requiring seven stitches. The band is also on the cover of the February issue of Request, a monthly that's given away at some record stores and sold at newsstands. Staley is more forthcoming than he's ever been about his withdrawal from heroin. He says he holed up with the Dean R. Koontz novel "The Bad Place" and went cold turkey. "The book was insane and so was I," he's quoted as saying. "It took my mind off my problems. I just stopped, and now, instead of picking up a needle or a straw, I pick up a beer. Life's still crazy, but not half of what it used to be."
-- "Live Melvins," a new release on Box Dog Video, sheds some light on the mysterious, influential Aberdeen band often cited by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana as his main inspiration. A force in the early grunge movement here, the Melvins relocated to San Francisco before the Seattle-scene explosion and has been headquartered there since. But it returned to this area to record the video, subtitled "Salad of a Thousand Delights," last May at the North Shore Surf Club in Olympia. The one-hour video is amateurish but the sound is good.
-- Northwest grunge may be a relatively new phenomenon but its roots go way back. That's shown in a new release by the legendary Kingsmen on Jerden Records. The CD-only "Live & Unreleased" was recorded 30 years ago at the Chase, a Portland rock club where the Kingsmen were the house band. The disc includes a version of "Louie Louie" that features a different lead singer than the original. Sax man Lynn Easton takes the lead on this version, which hasn't been heard since it was recorded in 1963. The disc also includes such period dance-floor hits as "Twist & Shout," "Do You Love Me" and "Ooh Poo Pah Doo."
-- Joining the list of Seattle bands who have signed with major labels are Candlebox, which is one of the first signees to Madonna's new label, Maverick (distributed by Warner Bros.), and Tad, which has reportedly signed with RCA Records. Candlebox is a relatively new band that started only last spring. It has released one independently produced cassette EP. The band was spotted at a Los Angeles showcase by a representative of Maverick. Tad has long been a fixture on the local scene, playing a rough-and-tumble, punkish brand of grunge.
-- It seems the movie just closed here a couple of weeks ago, but the video of "Singles," the Cameron Crowe romantic comedy set in the Seattle grunge world, will soon be released, in late February or early March, on Warner Home Video. Two scenes cut from the movie will be added to the video, following the closing credits. And due next Tuesday in the video stores is "Mother Love Bone: The Love Bone Earth Affair," on PolyGram. It's a music-video compilation from the late Seattle band, some of whose members are now in Pearl Jam.
-- Seattle jazz pianist Deems Tsutakawa thinks Minneapolis is pretty hip. The jazz station there chose his "Planet Deems" disc on J-Town Records as its No. 1 album of the year. KBEM-FM also named Tsutakawa's "Romance Blue" as its most-played cut of 1992. "Planet Deems" was the No. 1 jazz album in Minneapolis for six weeks, and was in the Top 30 there for five months.