The dark side of grunge music is not always about heroin and death. In the story of the band Tad, the dark side takes the form of careless marketing choices and the corruption of the music industry. Tad was a band that seemed to be cursed with bad luck — with two recalled releases. One album, Eight-Way Santa, had an unlicensed photo of a couple on drugs. The couple saw the picture on the album cover and sued the band. And the single “Jack Pepsi” was recalled because Pepsi took offense to the use of their name. The band was dropped from a label (they went from label to label all through their career) because of a band poster that pictured Bill Clinton smoking a joint. Also, when they finally had a big label release coming out on Elektra, the story goes that the label only spent 650 on promo then dropped the band when sales weren’t good.
Starting out, Tad seemed to be the band to bet on to get noticed outside of Seattle. They were one of the heaviest and most primitive-sounding groups of the grunge era. Frontman Tad Doyle relocated to Seattle from Boise with his group H-Hour, but they broke up after the move. Tad Doyle decided to make his own demo where he played all the instruments. He recorded three songs and played them for the fledgeling Seattle label Sub Pop in 1987, and the label put two of the songs in their singles series. The 7-inch record got great reception, and Sub Pop helped Tad get a real band together. The original lineup of the band Tad was Tad Doyle (guitar and vocals), Kurt Danielson (bass), Steve Weid (drums) and Gary Thorstensen (guitar). Thorstensen’s unique guitar style and Tad’s energetic stage presence earned the band a loyal following.
Despite the band’s bad luck, Tad Doyle continued to make music long after grunge was pronounced dead in the early ’90s. He went on to make music with his new bands Hog Molly and Hoof. His new band is Brothers of the Sonic Cloth.
For more on grunge history, check out Experience Music Project’s new Nirvana exhibit. Info and tickets can be found at empsfm.org.
KEXP Documentaries are created by Michele Myers with assistance from John Felthous, Tiffany Grobelski, Mary Janisch and Executive Producer Kevin Cole. If you would like to follow along more closely in the creation of these radio stories, we post research materials, songs and videos on our Facebook page and on Twitter.