Brad Sinsel Looks Back on TKO, War Babies, and the Seattle Grunge Scene

demetriosdemetrios Posts: 80,334
edited November 2022 in The Porch

In War Babies’ early days, you gigged around Seattle alongside Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam. Do you agree with the assertion that grunge killed metal?

I had returned from Los Angeles and took over as frontman for the War Babies, who, at the time, were playing the typical Seattle venues such as the Central and the Vogue. Once again, music was changing, and somehow we found ourselves accepted in that musical community. I had surfed through numerous shifts in style in my lifetime; I felt like War Babies was a perfect fit during those changing times. I mean, we were all signed to the same management company, our audiences were the same, and we partied and played together as one big family. I don’t think grunge killed metal; I think it overstayed its welcome. As to whether or not change is a good thing, I cannot say. Had we all stayed in Seattle, everything would be just fine today; it’s when it went global that we found that disconnect.

The death of Andrew Wood shook the scene to its core. What are your memories of him, and how did his death affect the scene on the ground level?

Andy was special; I hadn’t really seen the likes of him since Jim Morrison. He loved all things rock ‘n’ roll, everything about it. At the time, I found that refreshing, being that I was starting on my sixth album and couldn’t see the good in any of it. I remember there was a party at manager Kelly Curtis’ house, and all the guys from Alice, Love Bone, and War Babies were there. So, Andy cornered me and enthusiastically asked me questions about life on the road, such as, “What’s it like on a tour bus? Is it great?” I found myself gilding the lily and did my best not to tarnish that pure, naive individual who, to me, was simply magical. The shock of his death deeply affected Seattle; looking back, it had a musical impact whereby chords, melodies, and rhythms clearly, and deeply darkened.

Jeff Ament was an early member of the band. How did he become involved, and what led to his departure?

War Babies signing to Columbia Records coincided with the passing of Andrew Wood and the consequential demise of Mother Love Bone. Their bass player, Jeff Ament, needed a job, and War Babies needed a bass player. Kelly approached us with the suggestion to bring Jeff on board. It was all done in-house. He basically was a salaried player doing some live shows and some demo work as well. Within a year, Jeff and Stone Gossard reconnected, forming Pearl Jam. We hired our third base player following his departure; the rest is history.

Had Jeff elected to stay, I’d venture to say that Pearl Jam’s rhythm section would not have the infamous signature it has today. Ultimately, our outcome would have been the same if he had stayed with War Babies, as grunge was clearly an unstoppable freight train. I’ve been involved with recordings with Stone as well as Mike McCready has contributed guitars on a few songs from my current project, Angels of Dresden, in exchange for my appearing on his charity event “Flight To Mars.” This summer, of course, Rich [Stuverud] filled in for Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron during their tour dates, so safe to say, to this day, we all stay in contact in contact.

Thirty years later, War Babies is warmly remembered. What are your plans for its anniversary?

We are currently in talks with Rock Steady Records to release the album again, with the focus on songs recently unearthed as bonus tracks. By the end of things, Tommy and I were at loggerheads, but we have since moved on. I’ve had them out on some TKO reunion shows doing cameos, and we’ve had a blast. We’re in contact with Guy Lacey, and as I said, Richard Stuverud filled in for Matt Cameron during the recent Pearl Jam tour. How perfect is that? We’re all discussing live dates as we speak, and if we only return to Seattle, that’s fine by me. The bonus tracks are my favorite thing about this release, and I truly hope you all enjoy them.


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