Meet Eric E. Magnuson. He’s a writer and longtime Seattleite who leads a tour called Seattle Grunge Redux: The Walk That Rocks Through Seattle’s Music History. Eric’s taken grunge geeks all over town to past and present landmarks from when our city was the epicenter of grunge music. He started doing tours through Seattle’s Atlas Obscura Society, and he’s shown around everyone from casual music fans and New York fashion designers to German chocolatiers.
We caught up with Eric to talk all about Seattle’s grunge scene, music history, and how locals can experience city history.
Grunge sort of became a stereotype of Seattle. What do you think of it now that you’re giving this tour?
It was really overplayed outside of Seattle and I think, if you spent time here, you didn’t see the frenzy everyone thought existed. People wore flannel because it was cheap and you could find it at a thrift store. When [grunge fashion] was taken to extremes like Marc Jacobs’ fashion line in 1992, it was laughed at.
Maybe I’ve come to reclaim it. I feel like it’s time to embrace that which was hated.
What drew you to our city’s grunge scene?
It was seeing the music and what it brought together. I was especially interested in grunge because I had plenty of that mosh pit exposure where people you wouldn’t talk to on the street would pick you up off the floor — it was amazing. I love that heavy, yet still melody-driven nature of the music. I wanted to see it evolve.
You’re a grunge expert. What album would you recommend to someone wanting to learn more about that era?
Can you share a bit of Seattle grunge trivia?
Black Dog Forge in Belltown, which was recently sold, was an important spot. There were two metal-working artists who worked there. It’s important because downstairs from this blacksmith’s shop was a practice space where Pearl Jam used to work out their first album. Soundgarden used it, too.
A lot of the places you cover in your tour — Vogue, RKCNDY, the Off Ramp — are now gone. Does that ever make you sad?
I’m sort of relentlessly upbeat. I see great changes happening and great inequity, but I also see a hell of a lot of opportunity for this city.
What I’m trying to do is offer an accessible view of what happened here then. There aren’t maps to show people around.
I [started this tour because of] a very close friend, Bob Wayman, who was a huge Seattle music fan. Bob committed suicide four years ago. We had this beautiful friendship, one that was based off of this cultural connection. It’s really that I’m paying tribute.
Speaking of which, how have you seen Seattle change since you came here in the ‘90s?
The best example of the evolution — and there is a lot to pay tribute to — is what we now have with KEXP, which used to be KCMU. Right now, I finish up my tour at KEXP’s gathering space, this reuse of Seattle Center. KCMU was the first place where Nirvana had their first song played on the air.
I’m not crying-in-my-beer nostalgic about how it was then. I love the idea that I’m trying to keep up like everyone else. Seattle allows you plenty of opportunities to see music and that’s why I’m still excited about it.
The more the merrier. Our state just became the 10th in the last four years to automatically register people to vote when they sign up for other Big Important Things, like a drivers’ license. It’s part of a big package of changes Washington officials are making to see if they can get more of us to fill out our ballots. Key stat: In the 2016 election, as many as a million people could have voted but never registered. What else is changing? People will be able to register to vote on the same day as an election — finally! — and 16-year-olds will get to “pre-register” to vote. (The Seattle Times)
Jot this down somewhere. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are coming to CenturyLink for their joint tour on October 4 and tickets go on sale next Monday at 10 a.m. at LiveNation.com. Already a member of the “Beyhive”? Subscribe to Jay-Z’s TIDAL music service? You can snag your tix today. (KING)
Such an overachiever. Our hometown world-dominating tech giant started Tuesday as the third most valuable company in the world — but that just wasn’t gonna cut it. Amazon became the second most valuable company in the world when it ended the day with a market value of $766.5 billion. That beat out Alphabet (a.k.a, essentially, Google), which closed at $760 billion. Whoosh. In related news, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, took a big robotic dog for a walk yesterday. Do you have a big robotic dog? Yeah. Didn’t think so. 💰 (GeekWire)
Fudging it. So you know how people are getting fed up with how easy it can be to spread bad, misleading info on Facebook? Eli Sanders at The Stranger broke down one example of how that happened in a local election this past year. A guy named Scott Lindsay ran for city attorney and lost. But before he did, his campaign rans loads of Facebook ads saying something about Seattle’s crime rate that The Seattle Times had gotten Scott to admit was not quite right. This is worth a read. (The Stranger)
💡 3/26: Cheer on some amazing local entrepreneurs — many of them women and people of color — at InnoVentures, a small business pitch contest (Ballard)
🧀 3/28: Learn about fruitcake, the world’s oldest noodles, and other unusual eats with Atlas Obscura Society Seattle at The London Plane (Pioneer Square) — use the promo code “EVERGREY” for a special discount!
💡 Go behind the scenes on Bertha’s “boring” trip through the city (South Lake Union)
🍿 Watch movies about the effects of Seattle’s boom (Capitol Hill)
💡 Ask how artificial intelligence could change how we work (Capitol Hill)
🎩 Go old school at this old Victorian fest — through Sunday (Port Townsend)
🍴 Eat and drink your way through Pike Place Market (Downtown)
🎶 Hear a local musician’s take on growing up here (Central District)
🎟 Laugh it up with some improv (Downtown)
🗣 Join Seattle’s March for Our Lives to call for smarter gun policies — 26,000+ people interested (Capitol Hill)
🎈 Take the fam and your 80s gear to a dodgeball showdown (Rainier Beach)
🗣 Intro your teens to 30+ ways to make a difference (Queen Anne)
🍿 Watch flicks by indigenous filmmakers (Capitol Hill)
🎨 Shop local at this top Northwest arts and crafts show — through Sunday (Sand Point)
Send us a pic or tag #theevergrey. See more upcoming events (and submit your own) on our events page.
We’ll see you tomorrow. — The Evergrey