March 24, 1995 in Features, Seven

Sinister Six Was Part Of 1991’S Grunge Explosion In Seattle

By The Spokesman-Review

The Seattle music scene saw an unforgettable year in 1991.

It was the year Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam rocketed grunge into the mainstream.

It was also the year four Emerald City garage punks - singer Doug White, guitarist James Burdyshaw, bassist Mark Ferkingstad and drummer Erik Hildahl - formed the Sinister Six. The band plays Mother’s Pub on Saturday.

As the band took to the local scene, then a blossoming music haven swarming with contract-toting, major-label artist and repertoire reps, Sinister Six wasn’t looking to be the next MTV darling.

Certainly Burdyshaw, a former member of Yummy, Catbutt and 64 Spiders, could have justified hyping his latest project, since he was involved with bands instrumental in shaping the Seattle music community. But he didn’t. That wasn’t why the Sinister Six got together.

No, the band formed for the thrill of playing music.

Because the Sinister Six wasn’t writing theme music for a sludge plow, a common trait among many Seattle bands at the time, the band won the respect of punk and garage aficionados across the country.

Today, the monster of raucous garage punk has recorded a host of singles on various independents, a marvelous debut album called “Outta Sight” on eMpTy Records and a newly released EP for Seattle label Bag of Hammers.

In April, the Sinister Six will be embarking on a three-week tour of the West Coast. Between dates, the foursome will cram in time to record its new album in Texas.

Three Spokane bands, the Fumes, Fatty Lumpkin and the Rizzos, will share the bill with the Sinister Six.

Music starts at 9:30 p.m. The cover is $5. Bring ID.

Elsewhere in the night

Usher of the apocalypse Grotus is back in the Northwest and gearing up to lay its doomful sound upon its horde of Spokane followers at the Big Dipper Thursday.

Grotus, known as an apocalyptic industrial band, has played here several times in the last few years. The San Francisco band formed in 1989 and steadily rose in the ranks of the underground.

In 1991, Grotus unleashed its first album, the unsettling “Brown.”

“Luddite,” an EP, followed in 1993.

Just before the release of “Luddite,” Grotus signed to upstart independent label Alternative Tentacles. The signing was logical since the label had, and still has, a reputation for taking on bands who charter unexplored musical frontiers.

For Alternative Tentacles, Grotus produced just one album, a disturbing yet spectacular release aptly titled “Slow Motion Apocalypse.”

The album, released in 1993, won praise from underground fans, music critics and college radio stations.

“Slow Motion Apocalypse” also prompted London Records, a major label, to sign the band. (Its majorlabel debut, yet to be titled, will be released in June.)

What makes Grotus special is that the band doesn’t sound like anything else. Indeed, the quartet’s music nods to the industrial genre. However, the quartet is more organic than it is mechanical - meaning, the band doesn’t let electronics like drum machines and voice modulators overwhelm its music.

Rather, Grotus anchors itself with a simple array of instruments - guitars and various drums - and Lars Fox’s guttural bellows (similar to those of the Tibetan monks).

Samples and synthesizers serve merely as a backdrop.

Columbia recording artist Season to Risk, another band that’s played here a handful of times, and Spokane’s Cringe will open.

Music starts at 9:30 p.m. The cover is $5 ($6 the day of the show).

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