90’s rock makes a redesigned comeback

by Matt Edwards

As ’90s rock music begins to churn toward the mainstream for a comeback, it looks like nostalgia and natural music industry cycles are the driving forces behind the revival.

“I think people are so sick of pop, so they’re coming back to rock,” says Sara Neppl, KSTM station manager. “It’s a combination of pop dying and people wanting rock.”

Nirvana’s recent greatest hits release, which also included a previously unreleased song, is the most obvious example of the comeback of 90’s rock.

The Foo Fighters, whose front man Dave Grohl was the drummer in Nirvana, have a new album out. It’s more of a raw, harder-sounding album than the Foo Fighters previous efforts, and thus has been compared to Nirvana more than ever.

Then there are The Vines and The Hives, both of whom have been noted as taking some of their musical cues from Nirvana.

Andy Hall, afternoon disc jockey on Lazer 103.3, sees what is happening as natural part of the music industry.

“The music industry works in circles, and this is an example of that,” Hall said.

He also thinks that today’s listeners are different. There are so many different ways to get music and it can change how people see music as a whole.

“People just aren’t as passionate about bands as much anymore,” Hall says. “They are less open minded for new music.”

Hall says he sees bands crossing over to different genres more than ever. He says it’s not uncommon for a song that starts off on 103.3 to end getting played on Star 102.5.

There are many Nirvana connections, but don’t go digging out your old flannel shirts from the attic just yet. This isn’t the comeback of grunge; it’s more like the folks of the Seattle scene saying they haven’t gone away.

Pearl Jam has a new CD out. The former lead singer of Soundgarden, Chris Cornell, has teamed up with the remaining members of Rage Against the Machine to form Audioslave. Additionally, former member of Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell, just put out his third solo album.

It doesn’t stop with the Seattle connection either. The Smashing Pumpkins have just released a live album, despite their breakup several years ago. Billy Corgan, the former Pumpkins lead singer, has now formed a new band, Zwan, and their album is due out very soon.

So as this comeback builds to a climax, you have to wonder how long it will last. If it follows the natural industry cycle like Andy Hall says, then it could be back to stay for awhile. However, Hall doesn’t know how most people are going to react to the comeback.

“I thought The Hives and The Vines would be the next big thing,” he says.

Yet, Hall notes that despite an impressive amount of support from MTV, neither has really taken off on radio.

Grunge had a type of culture attached to it that helped it take over, and this rock comeback doesn’t seem to have an identity yet. Whatever the driving force, what it really comes down to is the listeners simply embracing the music.

“I just hope that something happens soon,” Hall said. “Because I’m tired as the next rocker of this rap crap.”