+ Conversations with Author Greg Prato +

unnamed

Apart from being one helluva guy, Greg Prato is a New York based journalist, author,  and contributor at Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of several unique publications including  ‘A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon,’ ‘Touched by Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story,’ ‘Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, ‘No Schlock . . . Just Rock!,’ ‘The Eric Carr Story,’ ‘MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video,’ ‘Sack Exchange: The Definitive Oral History of the 1980s New York Jets,’ ‘Too High to Die: Meet the Meat Puppets,’ ‘Dynasty: The Oral History of the New York Islanders, 1972-1984,’ and ‘The Faith No More & Mr. Bungle Companion.’

We were honoured to get the chance to pick his brain with the help of our trusty correspondent John Wisniewski.

JOHN: What ended or contributed to the end of “grunge”?

GREG: A few different factors contributed to the end of the grunge movement – tops being Kurt Cobain’s death, followed by the break-up of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam not touring as much for a while, and Alice in Chains grinding to a halt due to Layne Staley’s drug problems. Also, add in record companies signing horrific grunge rip-off bands (Bush, Silverchair, Candlebox, etc.) that stunk to high heaven. It was rather sad to see how quickly most rock fans flocked right back to acts of the mid-late ’90s/early 21st century that embraced the same overindulgent “rock star” grossness that hair metal bands flaunted in the ’80s.

JOHN: What made grunge so popular?

GREG: Because most mainstream rock fans seemed fed up with the same predictable/stinky mainstream rock bands that were stinking up MTV and radio at the time. And in my humble opinion, there is nothing better than a hard rock band sounding like real human beings playing their instruments in a “live” sounding manner (a la early Led Zeppelin, early Kiss, Ramones, Sex Pistols, etc.)…something that more artists nowadays (who are under the spell of Autotune, meddling outside songwriters and producers, etc.) should wise up and take note of. Also, I always appreciated that such gentlemen as Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder weren’t afraid to speak their minds on a variety of touchy subjects in interviews – something that most rockers post-grunge would never have the cajones to do, because they wouldn’t want to risk losing their sponsorship, commercial ads, clothing line, etc. But most important was the quality of the songwriting – I probably still listen to more bands of that era (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Faith No More, Primus, Jeff Buckley, Blind Melon, Meat Puppets, Melvins, Truly, Radiohead, Morphine, My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins, Fishbone, Sonic Youth, Rage Against the Machine, Tool, etc.), than I do of any other. 

MeatPuppets03

JOHN: Can we speak about the Meat Puppets next, Greg? Did the band anger the hardcore fans, when they began to mix elements of country and psychedelia into their musical sound?

GREG: According to the band when I interviewed them for the book ‘Too High to Die,’ yes, they seemed to anger (or confuse) fans…probably not so much fans of theirs, but fans of the bands they were playing with – specifically Black Flag. Black Flag’s fan base didn’t want to sit though Grateful Dead-like jams, which is what Puppets drummer Derrick Bostrom said they were doing in ’84, during an opening stint for Flag. Personally, I thought it was fantastic for the band to merge punk with country and psychedelia, and many of my subsequent favorite bands seemed to agree – Soundgarden, Nirvana, Melvins, etc. You can certainly hear the proof in ‘Meat Puppets II’ and ‘Up on the Sun,’ two of my favorite all-time albums, that never seem to grow old.

JOHN: What was the relationship like between producer Paul Leary on “Too High to Die”, with The Meat Puppets. Why did they decide on Leary as producer?

GREG: The relationship seemed to be good between Leary and the band on ‘Too High to Die.’ They were friends beforehand (Leary is a long-time member of the Butthole Surfers, for those who don’t know) for a long time. Interestingly, I found out from speaking to Leary for the book that when the Surfers hooked up with Led Zep‘s John Paul Jones to producer the 1993 album, ‘Independent Worm Saloon,’ the Puppets asked Leary to put in a good word with Jones re: if he would produce the Puppets‘ next album (which turned out to be ‘Too High to Die’). Surprisingly, Jones supposedly didn’t care for the music, which is quite shocking, as I would think that the Puppets’ music is more in line with what Mr. Jones would be into.

JOHN: What was the relationship like between Kurt Cobain the Meat Puppets?

GREG: The relationship between Mr. Cobain and the Puppets seemed quite swell, after all, he was kind enough to invite them to tour with Nirvana in ’93, and to play a few of their songs on Nirvana‘s now-classic ‘Unplugged’ performance. But according to Curt Kirkwood, he and Cobain weren’t best friends that hung out – more acquaintances. Either way, I’ll always think it was cool that Cobain made it a point to help promote the Puppets.

unnamed-2

JOHN: Can we speak about Shannon Hoon-what contributed to his death at a young age? It was a shock as was Kurt Cobain’s death, to the music world.

GREG: Blind Melon drummer Glen Graham has a theory (which he discusses in my book, ‘A Devil on One Shoulder…’), that Shannon was bipolar, and was medicating himself with drugs. I believe I remember hearing others say the same about Kurt Cobain, as well. Shannon ultimately wound up dying from a cocaine overdose.

SHANNON HOON- BLIND MELON

I remember being saddened and shocked by both Cobain and Hoon’s deaths (in 1994 and 1995, respectively), but I think Hoon’s may have hit me hardest, because I was more of a Blind Melon fan at the time than a Nirvana fan (since then, I probably like both bands equally). Regardless, some of my favorite all-time singers/musicians/songwriters died during that decade – Cobain, Hoon, and Jeff Buckley, among others.

eric1

JOHN: What was the reaction by fans of KISS, when Eric Carr joined the band?

GREG: I remember it being quite positive. I think most fans – myself included – thought the arrival of a new member may get the band back on track and their next album would be a return to glorious heavy metal, a la ‘Destroyer’ or ‘Rock and Roll Over.’ But instead, Gene and Paul went off the deep end, and Kiss did ‘(Music From) The Elder,’ which was a bombastic rock opera, which turned out to be the band’s worst-ever selling album. And to Eric’s credit, he expressed concern to his new band mates that this was a bad move. Their next album, ‘Creatures of the Night,’ was the return-to-metal album most fans had been waiting years for, and Eric’s drumming was a huge reason why the album sounded as great as it does.

unnamed-1

JOHN: Could you name some of your favorite bands, Greg?

GREG: I listen to a wide variety of music, but if I had to pick a single favorite rock band of all time, it would have to be Queen, since they could pull off just about any musical style, and all 4 chaps were superb songwriters. But off the top of my head, some of my favorites include Soundgarden, Faith No More, Nirvana, Meat Puppets, Blind Melon, Jeff Buckley, Primus, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Stevie Wonder, Sly & the Family Stone, The Stooges, Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, The Pretenders, Joan Jett, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Bad Brains, Talking Heads, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, The Ramones, Neil Young, AC/DC…I’m sure I’m leaving too many others out, I apologize to those artists!

To see what I’m up to (and for ordering info for my books), feel free to visit twitter.com/gregpratowriter.

Make sure to click here to purchase any number of Greg Prato’s truly awesome publications!

Well, until we meet again!

Talk soon,

 LIKE US ON FACEBOOK & FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

Sincerely,

+ + + {theEye} + + +

+

+

Similar Stories:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s