Grunge is a uniquely positioned genre in rock music.
We all know what it sounds like, we can all bring to mind the look; we can even pin it down to a very specific place and time, that of the US pacific northwest from the late ‘80s to mid ‘90s. And yet, in spite of this established and influential iconography, it birthed few genuine breakthrough stars.
There’s Nirvana, obviously, and on the tier below them Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam (who were never really grunge). Beyond that, though, the sludgy, druggy, angsty rock of Washington, Oregon, and further afield remains mostly a cult affair, with great bands remembered perhaps by a devoted subculture but mentioned infrequently in the mainstream.
That’s a shame, because grunge has a lot to offer beyond the biggest acts. It’s a subgenre that boasts real intricacies and layers beyond the deluge of fuzz pedals and opioids. There were heavy acts, playful acts, sloppy acts and real virtuosos all finding themselves riding a wave at the same time.
While only a few of them ascended to megastardom, there are many more acts that deserve to be celebrated,
Tad came an awful lot closer than a lot of the bands on this list to making it huge.
Let by their immensely charismatic lead singer Tad Doyle, they made music with a muscularity and scale that set them apart from some of their more introspective contemporaries, as well as a daffy sense of humour that kept them grounded.
10 years later they’d have blown up in a major way, but instead they flew just under the radar as their erstwhile-tourmates Nirvana rocketed to the moon. Debut album God’s Balls is hugely assured, with Doyle turning the air blue on “Behemoth” and spoofing self serious rockers on “Pork Chop” above a colossal sea of riffs.
They scored a major label deal for third album Inhaler; it’s a catchy and often inspired record but it didn’t quite hit the zeitgeist, with tracks like “Lycanthrope” and "Just Bought the Farm" exhibiting a sense of humour that wasn’t in vogue for the genre.
Tad provided something totally different to the often self-serious grunge scene and are rightly celebrated by their fans, though they had the potential to hit another level.