Success is a Bitch, (Not That They're Complaining) (Part 2 of 2)

Author Vickie Gilmer
Publication Request Magazine
Date July 1995

(Continued from part 1)

You might expect Grant Young to be a bitter, jaded man. And he'd be justified. Yet he seems quite well-adjusted, displaying the same smart-ass, but good-natured nonchalance as his former bandmates. He even compliments Campbell's playing. Sure, moments of bitterness and disgust slip into the conversation, but he's basically come to grips with his lot, learning to appreciate the benefits of not touring, and says the best thing that came out of the whole debacle is that he and his wife now have a semblance of a normal relationship, something they'd never had before. (They are expecting their first baby in July).

Things with Soul Asylum began to unravel during the Grave Dancers Union sessions: young's frustration derived from producer Beinhorn's failure to provide instructive feedback and the rest of the band's seemingly noncommittal attitude to working things out. Finally, Campbell was called in, and Young left. (Four of the tracks Young recorded appear on Grave Dancers Union, including "Black Gold", one of the album's biggest singles. Campbell is credited with percussion in the album's liner notes.)

Young's final pink slip came long after the band had completed a lengthy tour for Grave Dancers union, and after he had recorded demos for the new album. manager Heaps called and told Young that the band was concerned about going into the studio again. Young had already demoed nearly 40 songs for Let Your Dim Light Shine, creating the drum tracks for two songs that appear on the album, and had helped select Vig as producer and even scheduled studio time. (Young looks at a tape of the new album I have and claims he could play all the songs except two he hasn’t heard). When the band's motives were becoming apparent, he even asked if he could accompany the studio drummer so he could learn what it was they were seeking. The band declined. Compounding matters, Young had to record a single with the band for the Clerks soundtrack, which he says had him "totally freaked out. I was playing under tremendous pressure - it was like I was trying to save my career by playing this song".

When he's asked if he saw any warning signs, Young still seems confused over the chronology of events. "We'd always, always argued," he says. "As long as I'd been in this group, there's always been times where, after a show, we've argued. I've been known to f__ things up, and we'd have arguments about music sometimes because our philosophies about music, or ideas about what we thought was good music, were often very different. I always thought that was what was one of the interesting things in the band, because there were four different guys in the band that had different ideas about what good music is, style-wise, and the coming together of all those different styles is what gave Soul Asylum a personality. Apparently, they feel it's Dave's vision now.

"It's like they get to a point and they can afford one of the greatest players around," Young says. "It's musical arrogance, and that's disappointing as hell, because I always thought this band was kind of on a high moral ground".

The end result is that Young is currently unemployed. He's trying to work out a financial agreement with Mueller, with whom he's been able to maintain a civil relationship. (Young hasn't heard from Murphy, but did receive a letter from Pirner, though Young didn’t return his phone call). To fill his time he's taking piano lessons, learning to play guitar, and working on his voice. He's been eyeing a couple of local musicians with whom he'd like to work, but first wants to hone his songwriting skills. A dedicated R B fan, Young has no intention of sounding like a Soul Asylum wannabee. "The last thing I want to do is be Tommy Stinson and have my music sound like Paul Westerberg's", he says. But he also says that he's interested in other areas and that "it's not of the utmost importance to my personal validity to be a musician". (He plans to attend carpentry school in the fall.)

Since the split, Young has hooked up with two drummers with similar experiences. ken Callahan, the former Jayhawks drummer, has a custom woodworking business in which Young is interested. And, on a whim, Young phoned Pearl Jam's departed drummer, Dave Abbruzzese, because they lost their gigs at the same time. The two have since become long-distance buddies, and Young hopes he'll soon be able to meet up with his new friend.

In the end, there's residual regret, but nothing that will arrest Young's future. And before leaving, he stresses that he harbors little ill will these days. He looks at the tape of Let Your Dim Light Shine. "These are good songs, it'll be a good record," he says. "Dave's writing good songs. I haven't got anything negative to say about it. It's a good f___ing record. I know it is."

So Quote Me Dave Pirner hold forth on a few of his favorite topics.

'70s Pop Music: "One day people will look back at that shit and not understand it, like it's cubism or something".

Train and Phone Songs: "I made a vow to myself to never write another song about phones or trains, because it's a stigma with people like me. You travel all the time, and you want to make it seem more romantic than it is. Actually, I wrote a song called 'No More Songs About Phones and Trains'."

A Solo Career: "I'd be in a f___in' art band if I wasn't in Soul Asylum. I'd be playing blenders and like scoring music for kitchen appliance and Jell-O."

Cooking Versus Music: "[Music] makes me feel like I'm worth something. It makes me feel like I have a great skill, because I sucked as a cook, really."

The British Press: "The British Press is like the f___ing fascist intelligentsia of music in Britain. Sometimes British journalists say the meanest, nastiest stuff about people. I just go 'Bah-ha-ha,' 'cause it's really funny. When they say it about me, I get pissed off."

Metal Music: "I think metal has got this whole self-sustaining element that is great. The allegiance to that shit is so stunning. They don't need the industry; they don't need the press. That will never go away, and, thank god, the industry didn't exploit it to death."

Dying: "I hope I die before all my friends go; that would suck to be the last one. 'Oh, who am I going to call today? They're all dead.' What a bitch."

Charlie's Angels: "[Kate Jackson] was the smart one. She was the only one that always had the plan. Jacklyn [Smith] and Farrah [Fawcett] always went out and swooned the guys, and Kate was the brains behind the operation. That's sexy."

Being a Jock: "I got chastised by my hockey team for not getting punk rock, and then I found Karl, who had bondage trousers on."

Hockey: "I watch it on TV and want to check somebody into the boards. [I played] left wing, and I was too kind. But when I got pissed off, I felt pretty manly on an athletic basis. I felt the rush of adrenaline and I just wanted to kill people. I understand that body chemistry can raise your adrenaline to the point where, indeed, you can be just a destructive mess, a trial of mayhem."

Being Negative: "I came from a family that suppressed their negative emotions, so I don't lay a lot of negative shit on people, and that is not a bad thing. Sometimes I take stuff out on myself a little bit too much, actually a lot. It's better than taking it out on someone else, I figure."

His Dad: "Talking to my old man on the phone, he's got this whole new outlook on life, where work isn't everything anymore. I was on a different level with him, and it was supremely satisfying."