Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge

At the time of their second LP’s release in July 1991, Mudhoney was arguably the most visible and vital representative of what was becoming Seattle’s most important export: grunge. That (and just about everything else) would change in a matter of weeks with the arrival of Nirvana’s Nevermind—along with Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger and Pearl Jam’s Ten—but Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge found Mudhoney already moving away from the sound they’d helped pioneer. “Before the full-on explosion, we already felt like Seattle was oversaturated,” frontman Mark Arm tells Apple Music 30 years later. “The hype was palpable, but more on a kind of music magazine, fanzine, college radio kind of level, instead of a massive, popular culture, Newsweek, Time, evening news kind of level. Maybe some of our friends did, but we had no idea that playing music would reach that place.” After scrapping an earlier session with producer-engineer-fellow grunge architect Jack Endino because the recordings felt too polished and professional, guitarist Steve Turner sought out a simpler arrangement in the local basement studio of Conrad Uno—named Egg after the empty cartons he’d pasted to its walls for soundproofing. Working with a ’60s-era eight-track console that had originally been built for Stax in Memphis, Uno offered the right space and equipment for capturing a leaner, rawer, more elemental Mudhoney, influenced from the start by early garage rock and punk. “He would let you be yourself and not put a stamp all over it,” Arm says of Uno, who also founded PopLlama Records. “The stamp came with the studio. It was kind of like we were trying to find lost sounds—the good sounds.” And though they’re as focused and ferocious here as they ever were during their first decade together, Arm had become increasingly distracted by heroin at the time—references to which you can hear in the vertiginous snarl of “Something So Clear” (“definitely, probably a drug thing”) and the languid menace of “Good Enough” (“mostly a drug thing, but also probably a relationship thing”). “My main focus was on staying high,” he says. “At best, music had become secondary. I kind of feel like, because I was so fucked up and semi-checked-out, Steve actually drove the direction of the record. Dan [Peters] and Matt [Lukin]—everyone else stepped up to the plate.” That Mudhoney would soon leave Sub Pop—a Seattle institution they’d saved from financial ruin and would later return to 10 years later—for a major label never changed their worldview or trajectory. Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge is so powerful, in large part, because it’s definitive on a smaller scale: These songs weren’t meant for stadiums, but neither was Mudhoney. “We didn't want to be super compressed, slick, clean versions of ourselves,” Arm says. “We wanted to remain gritty and fucked up, kind of loose but also kind of tight. We never had any illusions about becoming pop stars, because we knew what we were.” Below, Arm shares the lessons he learned from the experience, as well as he can remember it. You Can’t Lose If You Don’t Compete “Don't go for the brass ring. Don't compete. Just have fun. Do what you like. I'm not a good surfer by any means, because I started later in life, but I don't pay attention to surf competitions at all. It means nothing to me. I'd rather just do it and have fun. I don't think I could have looked at myself in the mirror if we’d had a hit like 'Runaway Train.' Soul Asylum were kind of our contemporaries—they’d started before we did, but we played shows with them and they were on a very similar level. They have this huge hit and this one record that just sells like crazy, and they probably alienated their entire fanbase that they'd been building up all those previous years. Then what? You need another 'Runaway Train' to keep that thing going. Good luck.” Ignore Hype, Avoid Fame “It just doesn't fucking matter and it can be detrimental. I watched friends have to navigate those waters. In a way, I feel like we're lucky that we never really had to. Watching Ed Vedder have a stalker who crashed her car into the wall that he had to build around his house to keep her out—shit like that, it’s insane. I like being able to go to the store and get my groceries.” Take Risks “It was a minor risk, but it was a risk nonetheless, not working with the same person. Jack Endino had recorded Green River, The Thrown Ups, and the first couple Mudhoney records. But it was like, why not take a chance on working with someone else, with Conrad [Uno]? And we went further by bringing in some influences that had been less apparent on our earlier stuff. ‘Touch Me I'm Sick’ was definitely a nod to '60s garage, but we brought that in more and messed around more with odder rhythmic things. Like the song 'Move Out' is kind of—I hate to say it, because that's way more complicated than what we were doing, but—like [Captain] Beefheart. It’s maybe our version of Clear Spot or Spotlight Kid or something like that.” But Embrace Your Comfort Zone “We could have just kept mining the sort of Blue Cheer stoner-rock thing, and we didn’t. I think it was like we were getting back to a place where we feel more comfortable. If you looked at our record collection at the time, most of the stuff was underground music from the '60s and '70s, and a lot of that stuff was on major labels. The MC5 never broke through, The Stooges never broke through. There'd be exceptions here and there, like Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath and David Bowie and whatnot, but most of the records that we were really, really stoked on were underground bands. Through no fault of their own, except they just sounded too good.” And Don’t Do Drugs “It's not worth it. The things that you learn from it are all the things you have been told about it before you ever got into it. Growing up in the late '60s and the '70s, there's all this misinformation about drugs, so you end up—at least I did—feeling like, ‘Sure, what the hell, I'll try this.’ But I also kind of went into it with my eyes somewhat open, because I knew people around who were definitely addicted. So for a couple years, I was just able to keep it as sort of a weekend thing, kind of recreational. Eventually that caught my own tail. I feel lucky that I came out relatively unscathed, but looking back it’s almost in the same category of me being an Eagle Scout when I was 16—a weird thing I did that doesn't really have a lot of bearing on my life right now.” The Thought Counts “It was a really tough decision to leave Sub Pop. I actually anguished over it—I think everyone did. We never really thought of it as business until it became apparent that there were some cash flow issues. The thought was that to save our friendship, we’d move away from the business aspect, but then that just hurt everyone's feelings as well. If we had stayed with them and the label collapsed, at best there would have been bad feelings. If we would have known that they had had points on Nevermind and that that record was going to go multiplatinum and they would be fine financially, we wouldn't have left. But we didn’t.” Songs Aren’t Substitutes for Words “I was in a shitty, dysfunctional relationship, but I didn't want to just sing a breakup song or something stupid like that. So I kind of couched things in other terms. 'Into the Drink' reminds me of how I was passive-aggressively trying to get out of it—but it didn’t work. I was just a dumb young guy whose ability to communicate with people was not so great. I was someone who didn't like conflict, and probably actually created more conflict in the end. I should have just been straight up.” Never Cut Your Hair “We cut our hair around this time, and I remember getting some crappy reviews in the UK, people saying, ‘The action isn't there anymore. They cut their hair.’ Steve's was really short, and you could probably see my earlobes or something like that. It just wasn't this long thing, like in a Charles Peterson photo. That always just struck me as really, really funny and superficial, looking at it from a fashion point of view. But then, of course, we all went out and bought wigs.” Be Your Own Audience “It doesn't really go any deeper than we're trying to write songs that we like. That's how I feel like about all of our stuff: We try to please ourselves first, and if we're happy with something, then that's great. If it speaks to other people, that's a bonus. But that's not the point for us.”

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