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Bundle Of Hiss


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Bundle of Hiss drew their inspiration from post-punk groups like Joy Division and Gang of Four, but they also had an interest in proto-punk bands, such as the Stooges, and the classic rock of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix.
By combining these elements into one unit, Bundle of Hiss -- along with groups like the U-Men and Skin Yard -- created what was to become known as grunge. The one thing that was different was the fact that Bundle of Hiss was crafting the Seattle Sound roughly six years before it exploded with groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Singer Russ Bartlett and bassist Kurt Danielson formed Bundle of Hiss with guitarist Jeff Hopper in 1980. The group went through a string of drummers before they recruited 15-year-old Dan Peters in 1984. It was also around this time that Hopper left to pursue a college degree at Western Washington University. On the prowl for a new six-string player, Danielson stumbled upon Jamie Lane at a University of Washington poetry workshop. When their lineup was finally stabilized, the members stepped into a Seattle studio to record their first demo tape. With help from producer Gordon Halperin, the group recorded the tracks "Famine at Dawn" and "Metamorphosis/Afterimage." The two tracks found their way onto a compilation titled I Fucking Forget. A year later, Bundle of Hiss visited Ironwood Studios to record the song "Nitro" for a vinyl compilation called Lowlife, which was released by Ironwood. At the beginning of 1986, just two months after producer and Skin Yard guitarist Jack Endino opened his infamous Reciprocal Studios, Bundle of Hiss asked for his services to record several songs. These tracks contained the number "Push," which then appeared on a compilation titled Bands That Will Make Money released by local radio station KCMU. By the end of 1986, however, Bartlett left the band to pursue a solo career; Lane took over lead vocal duties when the decision was made. In the beginning of 1987, stripped down to a trio, Bundle of Hiss decided to utilize a new studio and producer for their refined sound. With Rick Vaughan manning the control boards, the band made themselves at home at the Audio Designs studio in Seattle for a year, recording fresh material that they proceeded to re-record several times. They brought in one of their friends to fill the second guitar slot. The guitarist's name was Tad Doyle, a former drummer for a band called H-Hour and the future bandleader of a little group named Tad. By the end of the year, Bruce Pavitt and Jon Poneman began Seattle's seminal underground record label Sub Pop. The duo heard what Bundle of Hiss had been doing and took a keen interest in the group. By June of 1988, however, Bundle of Hiss had reached the end of their line before they even had the chance to release a full-length album. The band splintered due to the fact that Lane wanted to continue his studies at school. This led to his decision to leave the group that summer, just after Doyle had played his first show as an official member of the band. While Lane left to receive his graduate degree in English, Danielson and Doyle formed Tad and Peters joined former members of Green River and the Melvins to put together Mudhoney. After Bundle of Hiss split up, everyone lost track of the studio recordings, until 1992 when Lane and Danielson recovered them from Audio Designs. Several years later, in the fall of 1998, Endino contacted Lane about remastering and remixing all of the sessions. But Lane realized that within the past six years, the tapes had been lost once again. Asking for Danielson's and Peters' help to find them, the tapes were finally retrieved from Peters' basement. Once Endino had searched through the box, though, he found that one of the three master tapes was blank. The last sessions with Doyle from Audio Designs had been lost. Luckily, the other two tapes contained the Reciprocal, as well as some of the Audio Designs, sessions. When the tapes were found, Endino inspected them and found that the reels were caked with mildew. After a long process of baking the tapes in a vegetable dryer, Endino finally restored the music, and in July of 2000, the first Bundle of Hiss recordings saw the light of day under the moniker Sessions: 1986-1988 on Loveless Records. ~ Stephen Howell, Rovi


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