From the moment their debut single “Touch Me I’m Sick” was released in 1988, Mudhoney has defined the Seattle sound. Nearly three decades later, the band is still playing loud, wild rock music, even as countless imitators—as well as storied peers like Nirvana—have come and gone.
“The most important thing is we all just get along with each other and we all really like what we do,” says singer-guitarist Mark Arm. “We’ll take pretty long breaks sometimes, so when we all get back together it feels great.”
“Touch Me I’m Sick” became a grunge touchstone, pulling influences from garage and punk bands together into a song as catchy as it was raw. And though the band would release three records on Reprise, “Touch Me I’m Sick” began a relationship with Sub Pop that continues to this day. Arm also manages the label’s warehouse.
“It’s great and it feels really unique,” Arm says. “I’ve been working here at Sub Pop for 10 years and I’ve seen bands come and go on the label and that happens more often than not. For us to have a place that we can call home feels really, really great.”
Celebrating Sub Pop’s 25th anniversary in 2013, Mudhoney performed on top of the Space Needle, 605 feet above the town the band helped make famous for its music scene.
“It was cool, weird of course,” Arm says. “Luckily I wasn’t at the edge. (Guitarist) Steve (Turner) was so it was fine with me. Right where Steve was, the railing went from solid piece of metal to a wire. It was a total trip. We were standing on a little chunk of a platform that most people will never get to go.”
That summer also saw the release of Mudhoney’s ninth studio album, “Vanishing Point,” a return to the quintessential superfuzz sound that reached No. 9 on Billboard’s Heatseeker’s chart, tying the band’s previous best. While most of their peers and imitators have gone by the wayside, quit or pulled out acoustic guitars as they’ve gotten older, Mudhoney are still churning out raw tunes, brimming with punk energy.
“It’s a hard thing to put a finger on and explain,” Arm says. “Sometimes things are better felt than talked about. It’s just the sound that comes out when the four of us play together. Everything gets reduced to the common ground that the four of us have.”
On tour this fall amidst work on a new songs, Mudhoney will play career-spanning sets.
“We try to hit every record. There’s always something that gets lost here and there, but there’s plenty of early stuff and plenty of recent stuff,” Arm says.
There’s no set date for a new Mudhoney record, but Arm says the band is in the same groove as ever.
“We’re slowly working on new stuff, but it’s hard to get any momentum going when you take a month off,” Arm says. “We don’t have a principal songwriter or anything. We’re really a collaborative band and I like working that way. Sometimes it’s a little slower.”
With The Freeks
8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 21
311 E. Congress St.