Grunge Legend Jack Endino on His New Single, Sub Pop’s Silver Jubilee Celebration and More

Jack Endino got famous by recording a slew of early records from then-burgeoning grunge superstars, including Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney. And though he’s remained an in-demand producer ever since, he’s also a first-class musician with a steady stream of releases over his 25-year career, both as a solo act and with various bands, most famously, Skin Yard. With a new solo 12” out this week, a new full-length out in August and a gig at Sub Pop Silver Jubilee next month, the Ballard resident is as busy as ever. For the latest edition of Tell Me About That Album, we caught up with Endino to get the scoop on the Rumble 12”, which is out now via Fin Records.

How many of the three songs from the 12” will end up on the LP version that’s being released in August? Two. There’s a live song on there because I figured I needed a bonus song for the single. I had this live thing in the vault that I recorded in ‘96 with Barrett [Martin] and Rob Skinner. And Barrett is about to become a rock star because the Walking Papers got a record deal. Duff McKagan’s in the band. They’re going to explode, you watch.

How did you decide to do the record with Fin? [Fin Records owner] Christian Fulgham just raised his hand on Facebook and said, “I want to hear it.” And that was that. I said, “Really?” I’ve known Christian for like 20 years. I substituted for him at a Sister Psychic gig in 1992. It was New Year’s Eve or something. He was in Japan and they had a show opening for Gruntruck at the Paramount and I said, “Yeah, I know all your songs. I’ve already recorded you guys. I can play the gig.” So he liked it and said he wanted to put it out.

Why is this a Jack Endino solo record and not a band record? Here’s the story: I didn’t have a band. [My previous band Kandi Coded] was broken up. I was playing bass for Rocket Surgery, but that’s a different thing — it’s not my band. I’m just the bass player and I don’t write the songs. So I said, alright, it’s a Jack Endino record. It’s got three different drummers on it, a couple bass players and it’s all me on guitars and doing all the vocals. And I signed a deal with Fin. When I signed the deal I told Christian, “Look, I don’t have a band. There’s not going to be any live shows. Are you sure you still want to put this record out?” And he said, “Yeah.” But I started thinking about it and in December I called up Johnny and Sam, the bassist and drummer from Kandi Coded, who had broken up two years earlier. I said, “What do you think, guys, do you want to learn my songs?” And they said, “OK.” And then what do I call it? Do I call it Jack Endino? No, it’s a band. It’s got to be Endino’s something. My name’s got to be in it. So what did I have? I had a band called Endino’s Earthworm in the ‘90s. So we’re going to be Endino’s Earthworm and we’re going to support the Jack Endino record. And that’s that.

Will it be a rigorous touring schedule? No, but we’ve got three shows this month and I’m open for more. I’ve got the Sub Pop thing coming up, I’ve got a show with The Dt’s in August and we’ve got Hemp Fest.

Can you explain why there was a delay releasing the Rumble 12”? The pressing plant sent the test pressings and they were correct. They sounded good. But then when they sent the actual order of the 500 copies, they looked beautiful, it was the clear vinyl, the labels were correct — except it was the wrong music. It was some other Fin artist with my label stuck on it. They must have switched the catalog numbers or something like that. And they had to eat it. It was completely a pressing plant error because they had gotten right on the test pressing.

Do you like the process of putting together the artwork and the packaging as well? Since you usually have to hand a record off once it’s done being recorded, it must be nice to actually work on the other parts of making a record for a change. Here’s the thing, I got my friend Jim Blanchard on board, and Jim Blanchard is a very formidable artist who was tied in with the whole Fantagraphics crowd for years and years. He moved here from Arkansas or something back in the early ‘80s. He actually did a couple of Skinyard album covers back in the day, and Jim hadn’t done a record cover in years and years and years, but he was like, “OK, I’ll do this.” So he did the cover art for both the 12” and the album.

I got a kick out of watching the video that you did with Mark Arm and Tad Doyle and Kim Thayil promoting Sub Pop’s Silver Jubilee ? I gather you’ve kept in touch with all those people over the years? Yeah, of course. Jonathan [Poneman] and Megan [Jasper] basically hatched this at Sub Pop. They said, “We really want to get you four guys to do this.” Everybody talks about “the good old days of Sub Pop,” even though they’re selling way more records now, but everybody talks about the old days so they wanted to get us old guys out of retirement, so to speak. The joke was how do we get Kim to get out of bed because he doesn’t function in daylight very well. He’s a vampire. He gets up at like 5 p.m. and stays up all night. But we got him. He showed up 15 minutes late but he was there, in daylight, squinting a little bit. We finished doing that and we walked around the corner towards Georgetown Music and there was [Fantagraphics Books’] Larry Reid and Russ Battaglia standing there. Russ of course used to run Fallout Records and I’m just like, “What decade is this?”

You must be looking forward to the Silver Jubiliee? It’s going to be killer. I told Jon and Megan that day that I have a band now. I said, “If anybody drops out of your thing…” And they just looked at each other and said, “Yeah, we’d love to have your band play.” I wasn’t actually on Sub Pop, but I was part of the posse.

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