Green River is an American rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington in 1984. The band was active from 1984 to 1988. Although the band had arguably little commercial impact outside of its native Seattle, Green River proved to have significant influence on the genre later known as grunge, both with its own music and with the music its members would create in future bands. In 2008, Green River reunited and has since played several live shows.
Green River (named after the then at-large serial killer of the same name) was formed in early 1984 by vocalist/guitarist Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, drummer Alex Vincent and bassist Jeff Ament. Guitarist Stone Gossard then joined the band to allow Arm to concentrate on singing. Prior to joining, each member had played with punk and hardcore groups. Arm and Turner had played together in both Mr Epp & The Calculations and the Limp Richerds. Turner had also performed with Vincent in Spluii Numa, and Gossard in The Ducky Boys. Ament had been asked to join after moving from Montana with his band Deranged Diction.
By late 1984, the band was playing shows in and around Seattle. In December 1984, the band began production on its first record, Come on Down. However, by the time the band finished the record in early 1985, Turner had left the group, citing his distaste with the rest of the band's heavy metal leanings. He was replaced by former Deranged Diction guitarist Bruce Fairweather.
In mid-1985, the band embarked on its first nationwide tour to promote the now completed Come on Down EP. Release of the record was delayed however, thus negating the purpose of the tour. From all accounts the experience was less than positive, though it did help cement alliances with other emerging American indie rock bands. Among them was Sonic Youth, who later quoted the song "Come on Down" on its own composition "Nevermind (What Was It Anyway)". After the tour, Come on Down was finally released by the New York-based Homestead Records. The record was released to little fanfare, and did not sell well. However it is often considered the first album to be released by a "grunge" band, as it predated both the Deep Six compilation album and the Melvins' debut album.
In 1986, the band continued to play in and around the Pacific Northwest to steadily larger crowds (especially in the band's hometown of Seattle). Early in the year, the now legendary Deep Six compilation album was released on the local C/Z Records label. Alongside two Green River songs, the compilation features the music of fellow Washington bands Soundgarden, Melvins, Malfunkshun, Skin Yard and the U-Men. Kathleen C. Fennessy of Allmusic stated that the compilation "documents a formative period in Northwest rock history."
In June 1986, the band began production on its second EP, Dry As a Bone, with local producer Jack Endino. Green River chose to record Dry As a Bone for Bruce Pavitt's new label, Sub Pop. However, Pavitt couldn't afford to release it until the following year, and, as had happened with Come on Down, the record was delayed. In the meantime the band issued the one-off "Together We'll Never" single on the local Tasque Force Records label. Dry As a Bone was finally released through Sub Pop in July 1987, a full year after it was recorded. It was the new label's first non-compilation release. Dry As a Bone was promoted by Sub Pop as "ultra-loose GRUNGE that destroyed the morals of a generation." Steve Huey of Allmusic called it Green River's "strongest individual release...perfecting their sleazy, raucous fusion of '70s hard rock and post-hardcore punk."
Almost immediately following the release of Dry As a Bone, the group re-entered the studio to begin production on its first full-length album, Rehab Doll. Band in-fighting, though, took center stage over the music. A stylistic division developed between Ament and Gossard on one side, and Arm on the other. Ament and Gossard wanted to pursue a major-label deal, while Arm wanted to remain independent, viewing the duo as being too careerist. The in-fighting came to a head following an October 1987 show in Los Angeles, California. Apparently, without informing the group Ament had filled the show's guest list with major label representatives, instead of the band's friends, only to have two of the representatives appear. On October 31, 1987, Ament, Gossard and Fairweather stated their desire to quit the band. Although the band members agreed to complete production of Rehab Doll during the next three months, Green River had by late October 1987 ceased as a band. Rehab Doll was released in June 1988. Ned Raggett of Allmusic called it "a record that sounded caught somewhere between grunge mania and metal/corp rock folly."
A Green River reunion occurred on November 30, 1993 during a Pearl Jam concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. Participating in the reunion were Arm, Turner, Gossard, Ament and Chuck Treece, who filled in on drums for Vincent, who at that time was living in Japan. The band performed the songs "Swallow My Pride" and "Ain't Nothing to Do" before leaving the stage. Green River reunited for four shows in 2008. The line-up for the shows included Ament, Arm, Turner, Vincent, Gossard, and Fairweather. The first show was a warm-up show on July 10, 2008 at the Sunset Tavern in Seattle. The band next played on July 13, 2008 at Marymoor Park near Seattle to honor Sub Pop's 20th anniversary. Green River played another live show on November 28, 2008 at Dante's in Portland, Oregon. Afterward, the band played on November 29, 2008 at the Showbox in Seattle to celebrate The Supersuckers' 20th anniversary. Green River played on May 22, 2009 and May 23, 2009 at the Showbox in Seattle to celebrate the Melvins' 25th anniversary. Green River has tentative plans to record a new studio album when the band members' schedules permit, to release a remixed and remastered version of the band's debut EP, Come on Down, containing bonus material, and to possibly tour.
1988 Rehab Doll