Cobirds Unite's Rusty Willoughby on the Seattle Hysteria, Circa. 1991: "It Scared The Crap Out of Me"

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Shown here with Cobirds bandmate Rachel Flotard, Rusty Willoughby was a big part of the Seattle music scene when grunge exploded. Cobirds Unite play SW's Reverb Fest's Conor Byrne stage Oct. 8 at 12:30 a.m.
This post is part of the 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.

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

Rusty Willoughby: I'm not sure about everyone else, but it shook me to the core and I hated playing music for a long time after watching what a bit of media attention did to the music community of this town. It was a shifting point, culturally, so I can see the interest from a purely archaeological perspective, or a music history perspective. But I was young and impressionable and it scared the crap out of me.

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

RW: Today's bands? Yeah, I hear it in some Arctic Monkeys stuff, some other stuff too. But I mostly listen to music from the '40s and '50s now, grunge had no effect on Pee Wee Russell.

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

RW: We were alive playing music in 1991 and given that we've never stopped, I suppose it's part of our continuum. Like a river. grunge seeped into our lives way upstream and now is but a thing for music historians, authors, and photographers to interpret.

SW: How do you describe the Seattle sound today?

RW: Eclectic. Once the internet and a certain critical mass is developed, it's much harder to pinpoint a single style or approach.

SW: What were you doing on October 8, 1991?

RW: Playing shows at the Vogue, the Central, the Off Ramp, house parties, etc. Playing in Flop, Sick Man of Europe, and the Fastbacks. Watching the ever-changing musical landscape in my neighborhood and thanking the stars that I was witnessing so much creative energy. I was smoking tons of weed and egging cars. I was mooching off my girlfriend. I was watching my little daughter grow up and start school. I was watching TV back then before it all went to shit. Now, I never watch TV. Hey, should I stop talking?

 
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