Virgin Islands' Mike Jaworski: "It Would Be Cool If There Were More Seattle Bands Who Could Take a Page From What Happened 20 Years Ago."

Virgin Islands plays Reverb Fest's Salmon Bay Eagles stage at 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 8.
This post is a part of special Reverb Questionnaire series in which we ask local bands to discuss the legacy of the Seattle music explosion of 1991, as well as the class of 2011.

What do you think the legacy of the 1991 grunge explosion is for the Seattle scene?

Virgin Islands' Mike Jaworski: The legacy of the grunge explosion seems that it put Seattle on the map on a worldwide level. It brought some attention to the Seattle scene that wasn't here before. Before the grunge explosion, it seemed like it was a sleepy town with a cool subculture scene. Once certain bands hit it big, the music scene here became a viable contributor to the economy and the bigger record labels came in to try to cash in on "the sound" of grunge. Since the grunge years, it seems that the music scene in Seattle is more diverse, or at least more diversity is accepted on wider scale. Grunge still has its influence, but there are very few "grunge" bands these days. I would say that Virgin Islands is very much influenced by the grunge legacy and with the exception of a few bands like Unnatural Helpers or Milk Music in Olympia, we're probably one of the very few "post grunge" bands on the scene today.

Do you hear many influences of the sound in today's bands?

My previous answer seems to cover this one. Many good Seattle bands today are, without a doubt, influenced by bands from that era. It's hard not to be influenced by bands like Nirvana or Mudhoney if you're into rock n' roll. Both were/are killer bands who wrote great songs with guts and passion. Sadly, there are too many bands in this town at this point in time who seem to have missed it. There must have been a large glut of Crosby, Stills and Nash records in the used bins over the past few years. It would be cool if there were more Seattle bands who could take a page from what happened 20 years ago . . . before the dollars started coming in.

In what ways is your band influenced by the 1991 sound?

Virgin Islands is influenced by the sound of 1991 because we like loud guitars and good songs by bands who try to present rock 'n' roll in an interesting fashion with conviction and passion. Also, grunge music was generally dark and serious. If you've listened to any Virgin Islands lyrics you'll see that current carries through in our music. Virgin Islands is a fun band to see live, but we're not really a "party band." Our songs are a vehicle of expressing dissatisfaction with the current political norms as well as a release of emotion and frustration with the psychological challenges of the modern world, relationships and how it all relates. If grunge was a vehicle of expressing angst, Virgin Islands is definitely influenced.

How do you describe the Seattle sound today?

I don't think the sound of Seattle can be described with one unifying description. There seems to be many "micro scenes," and some of them are more popular than others at the moment. The punk/post grunge scene is definitely one of the least popular sounds in the local scene today. It seems that more people are into championing the local hip-hop scene and the alt-country/folk /whatever it is scene in today's climate. It's really cool to think that many of these different sounds have a place in today's Seattle music scene. Fortunately, there is a really good punk/DIY scene happening too. All seem to happily co-exist with each other, but some are selling more tickets and records that others.

What were you doing on October 8, 1991?

I was probably listening to Mudhoney, Bleach or something by Jesus Lizard or Sonic Youth. Actually, I think I drove to Lawrence, Kansas, that day 20 years ago to see Nirvana open for Urge Overkill at the University of Kansas student union. Legendary show.

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