Interview with MARK ARM

Photo: Emily Rieman

conducted by Dakin Hardwick

MARC ARM is the frontman for grunge legends MUDHONEY. In a prior life, Mr. Arm was the lead singer for GREEN RIVER, another legendary Pacific Northwest band that happened to feature both STONE GOSSARD and JEFF AMENT, two dudes that would eventually go on to start PEARL JAM. Arm was able to take a break from managing the warehouse at Sub Pop Records to talk to us about his life in bands, balancing his day job and music in general.

Of the other bands of your era, Mudhoney seems to be one of the most active. What is the secret for sticking around for so long?

Well, I think the secret is that we have always been friends. We weren’t a band that came together based on aspirations or look and attitude. There are a lot of bands playing the Boogaloo with a similar world view — to play music to have fun.

How do you balance working at the Sub Pop warehouse and playing music?

Working at the Sub Pop warehouse allows me to play music, regardless of how well our sell. It frees us from commercial intrusions.

The last Mudhoney record I bought was a split 7” with THE SONICS. You have a pretty involved relationship with that band, even with many members being 20 years your elder. How did that come to be?

Do you know what the EMP is? [It’s the EXPERIENCE MUSIC PROJECT, located in Seattle, WA!] For their opening party, they wanted to do a tribute to all of these Pacific Northwest bands, and they could not get The Sonics to reform. Scott McCaughey thought they really should be represented and maybe we should just do a tribute band for this one event. Dan, Steve and I from Mudhoney, Scott McCaughey, Tom Price from GAS HUFFER, Bill Henderson from GIRL TROUBLE, with Greg Flori on sax. A couple of The Sonics saw it and were stoked on it! They had no idea who any of us were, but that’s how we met.

On the subject of legendary bands you affiliated with…MC5 are touring this year. You were the singer last time they toured…Any reason why you aren’t involved this time around?

Yeah, I just can’t do it. I would love to. WAYNE KRAMER asked, but I only have a limited amount of time with Mudhoney putting out a new record this year. I mean, it would be super fun to play “Kick Out The Jams” every night for however many months they are on tour, but I have a job that I don’t want to lose. A good job. It’s hard to find a place that lets you do what you need to do as a musician. Lucky for me, we have a record label that understands.

I guess you have the same employer for both jobs.

Well, I’d like to think of the band as self-employed, but we can let Sub Pop believe they are in charge.

Any idea as to what the “Loser Edition” of the new record will be like?

We haven’t gotten to that point yet. We’ve just started working on the cover…I don’t think the packaging will be different. Maybe some colored vinyl, only with spikes through it so isn’t even playable.

Fun! I really appreciate that!

“FUCK! Now I have to buy another one.”

And another turntable! OK. Last historic band I’m going to ask you about…There’s been talk of something coming out from GREEN RIVER. Do you have any more information on that?

We have a couple of things in the works. Jackpot is doing a reissue of Come On Down, our first record from 1985, that’s been long out of print. JACK ENDINO has been going through the old tapes for Dry As A Bone and Rehab Doll and there are a whole lot of songs that I forgot about that he’s remixed. Rehab Doll has been remixed and we’ve removed all of the 80’s production with the gated snare…And now it sounds like a big rock record. It sounds better than I thought it would, because I didn’t have high hopes.

Would you ever consider taking Green River out on the road, even for a short period?

It’s not entirely up to me. If everyone was up to it, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. Stone (Gossard) and Jeff (Ament) have something else going that’s a lot more lucrative, however…

Who are you most excited about seeing at Burger Boogaloo?

Well, I’m only going to be there on Saturday and my heart belongs to DEVO. They were the first non-arena show that I ever saw and it flipped the switch that got me on the track that I’m on. It went from sitting down in seats watching a band 100 yards away to being at The Showbox in Seattle with a sprung dance floor, pogoing up and down. It was so tightly packed that you couldn’t help but bounce up and down the whole time. And I somehow wormed my way up until I was one person away from the front. Then I had an epiphany — this is what a rock show is supposed to be about.

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