Signed Nirvana in 1989 – now coming to by:Larm 2020

September 20 2019

Bruce Pavitt of underground label Sub Pop: Going out of business since 1988

Dizzy heights, rock-bottom lows, and extraordinary tales of dirty dealing in the music industry. Just some of the things you’ll hear about when Bruce Pavitt, founder of legendary record label Sub Pop (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Fleet Foxes, etc.) comes to by:Larm 2020.

When Bruce Pavitt quit his day job to set up Sub Pop on 1 April 1988, there was more than a hint of the April fool in his company motto, ‘Going out of business since 1988’. Not many people believed that the tiny Seattle company, which grew out of Bruce’s fanzine and local paper column, would get anywhere. There was certainly no profit to be made from running an indie label in what was then a cultural backwater way off the beaten track in north west US.

But as the 90s arrived, Sub Pop bands tore up the United States with a new ‘Seattle sound’, grunge, with Mudhoney and Nirvana leading the way. The company went from being haunted by bankruptcy to raking in the dollars, almost overnight. The rollercoaster was just starting off, and the glory years of multinational impact led directly into financial ruin by the end of the 90s – before the pendulum swung back the other way around the turn of the millennium.

When Pavitt comes to by:Larm 2020, we will hear about his journey from pasting up fanzines to running one of the world’s most uber-hip labels. We’ll hear about the long process of raising Seattle’s profile from Hicksville to music metropolis. And of course we’ll hear some crazy grunge anecdotes straight from the man who signed Nirvana in 1989.