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Nine Artists Share the Sub Pop Songs that Inspired Them

30 years ago, Sub Pop jumped into the national music scene with an unlikely start: A punk rock 'zine that by issue 5 had morphed into a de facto record label.

To celebrate three decades of music that we love to listen to, we asked some of Sub Pop's biggest acts to share the songs that influenced them most.

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WOLF PARADE

Eric’s Trip — My Room

There are few better bass tones put onto tape then the sounds ripping on My Room. I remember taping the video off of an episode of “The Wedge” before I picked up the Love Tara tape - I was blown away how a band could have this kinetic fuzzed out freight train of a rhythm section with such breezy vocal melodies. The bridge starts with a complete stop and a sigh ringing out to silence - which holds for 15 seconds before a guitar fuzz freak-out instrumental chorus. It’s a kind of hash-induced patience that is impossible to repeat in the clutches of the ADD internet age. It’s a fucking 90’s masterpiece.
Arlen Thompson

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ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER

Beach House — Gila

This was the first song I heard from Beach House. The super sweet melodies grabbed me instantly. And of course, that voice. I think if you sped it up it would be an absolutely banging disco track, but that would just be gratuitous...it’s perfection.
Joe White

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BULLY

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever — French Press

I really admire the vocal delivery on this song it feels effortless and a little calming. It’s also always cool hearing a wordless chorus that still hits really hard.
Alicia Bognanno

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YUNO

The Shins — Sleeping Lessons

I was fascinated by this song when I first heard it. The way the song develops from a soft sleepy sound to an energetic blast of guitars was like nothing I’d heard before. I bought a cheap delay around the time I heard this song. It didn’t have many settings capabilities, but it was perfect for playing the lead line of this song on guitar.

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MOANING

Sunny Day Real Estate — Seven

This song makes me cry every time I hear it. I didn’t even realize this album was on Sub Pop until I stole the record from the airport store. More proof that this label puts out all my favorite music!
Sean Solomon

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J MASCIS

Mudhoney — Touch Me I’m Sick

Amazing first single.
The definitive grunge anthem.
The song Sub Pop is built on.

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METZ

Mudhoney — Suck You Dry

I remember taking my oldest brother’s CD single, in the slim jewel case, of Mudhoney’s “Suck You Dry”.  When he caught me listening to it and saw how enamored I was with all that fuzz he decided to let me keep it. ­­
Hayden Menzies

Parlour Games — Six Finger Satellite

Everything Made More Sense — Elevator to Hell

When I was 13 or 14 years old and really getting in to music I memorized my father’s credit card number and used to call Sub Pop’s toll free line and mail order almost anything that was being released. Most of the time I would be calling about an Eric’s Trip release and the operator would suggest other releases so I would just tag those on to the order.  This worked great until my father noticed the hundreds of dollars I had charged to his card without him knowing.  I got in a load of trouble but the music I got in exchange is priceless.  Thanks for never doing a security check Sub Pop, your lax credit card rules helped make me the man I am today.
Chris Slorach

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CLIPPING.

Steve Albini — Spoken Word Intro Thing

When we first signed to Sub Pop, we fielded a lot of interview questions about being a noise/rap group on a grunge label, and whether or not we agreed with whatever journalist we were talking to that we were a weird fit in the roster. We always pushed back against that question by pointing out that Sub Pop has never been one thing—even at the height of grunge, the label was never just that. They had Earth, and Tad, and Codeine, and Six Finger Satellite, and fucking Reverend Horton Heat, and all sorts of weird stuff that wasn’t going to get shelved next to Soundgarden. Sub Pop’s vision has never been isolated to a single genre—case in point: the first track on the first Sub Pop release ever: Steve Albini’s “Spoken Word Intro Thing,” which should have been called “Screamed Nonsense with Microphone Feedback Thing.” Honestly, this is noisier than anything Wolf Eyes put on either of their two Sub Pop Records. We paid tribute to Albini’s track—quoting some of his lyrics and emulating his piercing feedback—on the intro to our first album for the label, CLPPNG (and nobody noticed). It’s our favorite track because it reassures us that Sub Pop is the exact right fit for who we are and what we’re trying to do, and always has been.
William Hutson

This article originally appeared in the First issue of The buzz, A zine from Rudy's. To read more, Grab a Free copy From your local shop.
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