TAD: A RETROSPECTIOVE | BY THOMAS ANDREW DOYLE
January 1988, shortly after leaving the band H-Hour, the band I had played drums in for many years, I went into Reciprocal Recording Studio with Jack Endino and recorded the first three songs that I had written solo. I played all of the instruments myself. Two of the songs, “Ritual Device” and “Daisy” were released on the first 7” in April. The third track, “Tuna Car” remained unreleased until now.
After the Ritual Device b/w Daisy 7” release, I decided to assemble a live band based on the musical direction I had taken. I was becoming good friends with the bassist from a band called Bundle Of Hiss. Enter Kurt Danielson. We both had similar music tastes and would play shows together in our respective bands, me in H-Hour as the drummer and Danielson playing bass in BOH. I was asked to join BOH as a second drummer but I really wanted to play guitar, so they added me as a second guitarist. BOH disbanded a few months later. Danielson and I decided that we wanted to continue to work together. We began to think of other musicians that would fill out the band. I had a drummer in mind that had played in other Seattle area bands. Steve Wied, whose current band at the time, Death & Taxes, was coming to an end and we both thought him a perfect fit for the band. Danielson knew of a guitarist that had played in a band with our mutual friend and Sub Pop co-founder, Jonathan Poneman. Gary Thorstensen was originally from Chicago and played guitar in the band Tree Climbers with Poneman. We contacted Thorstensen and asked him if he would be interested in getting together and playing the framework of what was that year to be the first TAD LP, “God’s Balls. Naturally, we chose to return to Reciprocal to record with Endino, whom I had an excellent working relationship with and who engaged us and our ideas in the experimental aspect of the music we were making at the time. I brought in some unusual instruments to the recording sessions, such as an empty gas tank from a car, a hacksaw and a large brass tube that was used as a part from a microwave transmitter that a friend had given me in Boise. We also used a cello bow on cymbals that would make a sound of something resembling guitar feedback. There were also some handheld microphones that we used that were traditionally used with Citizens Band Radios. Later that year we flew to Europe to play our first European tour with another Sub Pop band that you may have heard of. The tour was a month long with only two days off for the duration and covered the UK, Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy, Denmark and Sweden.
There were a lot of bands that we felt influenced by from the onset of TAD and too many to mention here. One in particular that was a favorite of the TAD band was a group from Birmingham UK. Head Of David had a chaotic, on-the-verge-of-destruction type of feel accentuated by their dark and dank apocalyptic guitar tone. They forged together industrial / tribal machine-like drum motifs that seemed embedded by the industrial landscapes of the city they had formed in. Overcast skies with damp, cold, weathered factories and the noise of the area had been emblazoned in their recordings. We looked to see who had captured this intensely hideous sonic beauty. Steve Albini was a part of what had made for this malaise of belligerent filth. I had been a fan of the things that Albini had been a part of musically and had mentioned this to Bruce Pavitt (co-founder of Sub Pop records) who shared the same appreciation. Bruce said, “Why don’t you go record a record with Steve in Chicago.” We loved the idea, so we flew out to Chicago so we could record the songs for what became the “Salt Lick EP”. We were picked up at the Chicago O’Hare Airport by Albini in his car and ushered to his house. The next day found us at the Chicago Recording Co. studio. We spent almost two full days tracking there with the songs that we had come up with since our debut LP. The songs had a different sound and feel as a result of Albini being involved but they were unmistakably TAD. We continued to expand and propound on the subject matter that we had laid the foundation upon previously. We had been playing together as a unit long enough to accentuate our individual strengths that would solidify our sound as a unit. Lyrically we had a lot of subject matter that was meant to be tongue in cheek from the beginning but had been presented by Sub Pop and ourselves as true-to-life. As a result, the press had taken it all seriously and began to feed on and ravenously devour the mythology that we had created.
Roughly a year later after the release of Salt Lick we had written a batch of new material. With already a few tours of the United States and two visits to Europe in which we logged tens of thousands of miles and hours on the road, we were more than ready to record the next full length LP.
We all had been fans of the band Killdozer. Their sound was such a refreshing take on what was defining the new heavy in independent music for us at the time. The drums sounded huge! The lyrical make up and delivery were right up our alley, and we considered them our older musical stepbrothers. Again we looked at who had recorded some of our favorite listening material. Butch Vig had recorded many of the bands that we loved and respected and the Killdozer records were among those that compelled us to seek him out and ask if he would record our next record. We loaded up the van again and made our may to the heart of the Midwest and into Madison, Wisconsin, a small college town full of educated beat generation offspring hippies and pseudo-socialist cologne wearers. There we were greeted by Butch and ushered into his Smart Studios main room. Butch had an alarm on his wristwatch that went off at precisely 5:00PM daily. The sound would signify that it was time to take a break and go get a beer. We gladly obliged him and imbibed at a local tavern that was within walking distance of the studio and the university. We had a full LPs worth of songs and some rough ideas that we realized in Smart Studios. On a particular 5:00 pm sharp lunch break, the rest of the band went to the pub with Butch while I stayed and fleshed out what became the song JINX. As soon as the band returned from their lunch break I went over the structure with them and we tracked it right then and there. This was the first record that we entertained the idea of using melody in our music. It was time we did. We always wanted to stay fresh and push ourselves to keep pressing on creatively. We never wanted to be that band that kept making the same record over and over every time. There was no point in that. Many touring dates and shows followed the record. 8-Way Santa was the last record with the original TAD lineup.
Playing and creating the music that we did together was a special experience that will stay with me for all the days that I will remain on this earth. I learned so much from these guys. From Gary’s unique bent on the chords and rhythmic structures that he would bring to his southpaw approach to playing a right-handed guitar, down to his song structure contributions. Kurt’s excellent command of the English language and the lyrical content that he contributed, not to mention the authority and finesse that he exhibited in his unique bass playing style along with the girth and tone of his sound. Steve’s unconventional use of playing drums with the swagger and skill of the old jazz greats, hanging ever so slightly back on the beat while still keeping steady tempos and aggressiveness. The power and technique that came so easily to him that some drummers work a lifetime for and never fully realize. All of our personalities coming together to help support the musical vision that we forged together was a process that I didn’t see while we were in it.
In retrospect, we were on to something that was greater than the sum of our individual parts and contributions. Looking back at all of the music and times that we shared, it is evident that we were a band that went through a lot together and the synergy we had was the essence of what made our music stand alone as a distinct entity. Although the band had taken my name, it is clear that the music would not have had as much depth and impact if these particular comrades had not been involved. To this day, I will hear the things that Kurt, Gary and Steve added that provoke a heady visceral response in me. I am honored to have shared the times and roads traveled with these guys.
– Tad Doyle
TAD officially broke up in 1999 when Tad Doyle, Kurt Danielson and the last drummer, Mike Mongrain, decided that it was time to close the book on the legacy that was the band. As of the writing of this page, TAD has a full length record recorded and ready to release that was recorded in the final days of the band.
Tad were one of the heaviest Seattle bands to emerge from the mid to late 80s, fashioning a loud, slow, lumbering grind that unlike many of their peers, was inspired far more by ’70s metal than punk. Devoid of melody and focused on their feral-pounding rhythm and primal-tonal-assault, TAD are still respected and revered as one of the most ferocious bands to come from the U.S. West coast. Tad’s music simply steamrolled over everything in its way. Although the whole band dressed like Northwestern lumberjacks, their redneck image chiefly came courtesy of frontman Tad Doyle; their publicity usually emphasized Doyle’s previous job as a butcher, and his lyrics often set up local white-trash culture.
Tad was formed in Seattle in 1987 by lead vocalist/guitarist Tad Doyle originally a one man band, recorded drums and bass with Jack Endino in Seattle with the intent of playing his guitar and doing his vocals live to the recorded drums and bass. After careful consideration, Doyle decided that he wanted to have live drums and bass so he enlisted bassist Kurt Danielson of Bundle of Hiss who had disbanded in 1988. Doyle added guitarist Gary Thorstensen and onetime Skin Yard and death & Taxes drummer Steve Wiede to complete the lineup, and soon landed a deal with Sub Pop. Their debut album, the assaultive God’s Balls, was released in 1989 and produced by Jack Endino and Tad Doyle. Songs like “Boiler Room,” “Satan’s Chainsaw,” “Pork Chop,” and “Nipple Belt” established the band’s collective persona. Their follow-up, 1990’s Salt Lick, was recorded with noisemeister Steve Albini in the engineer’s chair.
Switching producers once again, Tad turned in their most melodic Sub Pop album with Butch Vig (of Nevermind fame) with 1991’s 8-Way Santa, which spawned the tongue-in-cheek single “Jack Pepsi.” The original cover photo — a man fondling a woman’s breast — had been found at a garage sale, and was subsequently removed when the woman in question discovered the record and sued. Meanwhile, Tad was enjoying a growing cult following, underlined by Doyle’s brief cameo in Cameron Crowe’s Seattle-based romantic comedy Singles. The band was offered a major-label contract by Warner Brothers subsidiary Giant, but drummer Wiede exited the group before they began work on their next album. He was replaced by Josh Sinder, formerly of hardcore punkers the Accused, for Tad’s major-label debut, “Inhaler” in 1993. Inhaler found TAD touring with Soundgarden and Alice In Chains in both the US and Europe.
Guitarist Thorstensen left in 1994, reducing the band to a trio after recording “Live Alien Broadcasts,” a live-in-the-studio look back over their career that was released by Futurist Records in 1995. They also secured a second major-label recording contract with Elektra subsidiary EastWest, which released Infrared Riding Hood later in 1995. The final single release by the band was on Amphetamine Reptile Records in 1998 and was shortly followed by the band breaking up in 1999.
Currently, Doyle has a new record out on Yuggoth Records entitled INCINERATION CEREMONY and is playing in “Brothers of the Sonic Cloth,” with his wife Peggy and they have released a full length record with Neurot Recordings in 2015 and split 10″ with Mico de Noche on Violent Hippy Records. BOTSC have toured the U.S. West coast in 2011 and Europe in 2015 are currently on indefinite hiatus.
Doyle has most recently started the NoiseFloor_ Podcast and the purpose of this ongoing podcast will be to share ideas relating to the creation, writing and manipulation of all types of music in a no-bullshit, straight to the point Manner. The goal is to have interesting guests including musicians, songwriters, audio recording , mixing and mastering engineers, sound designers and composers of film, television and gaming soundtracks from all over the world.