Introducing Napalm Beach

This article was originally published for a website called Collapse Board in September 2013 under the title “Introducing the band that taught Seattle to rock.”


On July 11, 2013 my partner in music and life turned 60 years old. To celebrate, and to shift everyone’s focus, he set up a show at Portland, Oregon’s Star Theater, an old burlesque house transformed into a rock club. A local weekly called it “an exorcism masked as a celebration”. With this show he meant to bring closure to his old music projects, in particular, to his band, Napalm Beach. To prepare, he worked with 13 different musicians comprising five different bands from the past 33 years. In all these bands, Chris was the ringleader, songwriter, composer, arranger, vocalist, and lead guitarist. That’s just how it’s always been (at least until our band, Boo Frog, when he moved over, a little, for me).

With about 200 people in attendance, the club was full, but not overflowing. Two drum kits and all the players’ amps were set up ahead of time to expedite transitions. For the final number, ‘Why Do Parties Have To End?’ all band members from over the years came up and played guitars, basses, drums, keys, tambourine, all at once.

Meanwhile, upstairs, Flying Heart Records discreetly and without permission, set up a massive merchandise table from which they sold all manner of Napalm Beach and Snow Bud and the Flower People CDs, LPs, 45s, comic books, and T-shirts. Someone asked me, “Who’s that guy selling all the stuff?” I looked, I saw, and I left it alone. Because I didn’t want to harsh the buzz. Because all this is almost over. At the end of the night Flying Heart Records pocketed all the merch money, and disappeared into the shadows. For 26 years it’s been this way. Flying Heart Records manufactures and releases materials without notification or permission. Snow Bud and Napalm Beach never see an accounting, and they never see a dime.

That same day, three hours drive north, Sub Pop Records kicked off their Silver Jubilee by having their flagship band, Mudhoney, perform atop the Seattle Space Needle 500 feet above a crowd of 40,000. The event was covered by PBS, NBC, Billboard, and Rolling Stone.King 5 news noted that, “Sub Pop Records is credited with putting Seattle on the pop-music map with bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney. The record label continues to bring big money into Seattle to this day.”

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