Mudhoney's Mark Arm Digs NPR's News, Not Music: "Jesus Christ! That's the Last Thing I Would Turn to NPR For"

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Jim Bennett
Mark Arm is a Seattle rock elder statesman. After fronting Green River, the band that would spawn Pearl Jam, he went on to form Mudhoney and lead the way for what would become grunge and the Seattle sound. Twenty years after Nirvana and Pearl Jam erupted with Nevermind and Ten, Arm lives a relatively quiet life in West Seattle (the neighborhood getting the deluxe treatment in this week's paper) as the manager of Sub Pop Records' warehouse.

We recently caught up with Arm--who's slowly chipping away on songs for the next Mudhoney record--to talk about skinny jeans, public radio, and why he calls West Seattle home.

SW: You're a big NPR fan, right?

Arm: If I listen to the radio, that's usually what I listen to, yeah.

Do you have a passionate take on the fallout from the Tucson tragedy?

No. It's just awful. I guess that Sarah Palin came up with some screed that it's ridiculous to blame the political . . . People need to take responsibility for what they say. Obviously, the dude was deranged. Did I just say, like, I didn't have a take on it? I'm sure what was going on around him fed into his thinking, you know?

People blamed Marilyn Manson after Columbine. When you say people need to take responsibility, do you mean Marilyn Manson needs to take responsibility for contributing to that?

I think there's a difference between some band and something that's constantly on TV all the time. Before an election and whatnot, it seems like it's kind of inescapable. Even if you're just casually watching TV, you're inundated with this shit.

Are you a big Second Amendment defender? A member of the NRA?

When I was a kid in the Boy Scouts I got a rifle and shotgun-shooting merit badge, and that was sponsored by the NRA. But I do not own a gun. I don't see the need to own a gun.

So needless to say, you feel secure enough in your West Seattle home to not have a gun?

If you publish my address, I might have to get a gun.

What drew you to West Seattle in 1993?

It was just really refreshing to get to a place that felt a little more real, where it wasn't just like, in the case of the U District, this yearly turnover of people, and in the case of Capitol Hill, everybody's not a fucking hipster. It was nice to actually live in a neighborhood where there are normal people, who aren't concerned about how tight or loose their jeans are.

Has it retained those qualities?

Yeah, it hasn't become Ballard.

Do you seek out any particular music, or just turn on NPR?

I don't listen to NPR for music. Jesus Christ! That's the last thing I would turn to NPR for.

Really? Sub Pop gets their bands up on NPR.

Sure, but you don't hear [label punks] Pissed Jeans on NPR.

That's true, but you've already heard [label fauxlkies] the Head and the Heart on NPR.

That's different.

Do you like the soft indie stuff that's been coming out of Seattle lately?

I've never been a fan of soft rock.

Note: Due to a boneheaded move on my part, I originally referred to Arm as "Turner" on second reference in the first paragraph of this post. I was, apparantly, thinking for a minute of Steve Turner, Mudhoney's guitarist. I apologize. For the error. Not for thinking about Turner.

 
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