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Q&A with ‘Grunge Is Dead' author Greg Prato

Glenn Gamboa
Newsday (MCT)

Though Greg Prato had never visited Seattle before he started his latest book, something in the city's music scene from the early '90s - from Nirvana to Soundgarden - touched the writer so deeply he decided to submerge himself into its history.

"Music," he explained, "can shift society."

For "Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music" (ECW Press), Prato talked to 130 Seattle scenesters, from Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament to Sub Pop Records co-founder Jonathan Poneman, about the music's rise and fall.

Q. Why did you want to write about grunge?

A. In 1990-91, it really opened a door for me. It introduced me to punk music, to alternative music. Those bands really did change things, and I don't think the genre has been forgotten ... but I don't think there was ever really a book that was focused on it... . I was talking with Jack Endino (producer-engineer for Nirvana and Soundgarden) ... about how it would be great if there was a book of quotes straight from people who had actually been there.

Q. Is that why you made it an oral history?

A. I was aiming to make it definitive like "Please Kill Me" by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, only about grunge... . For a while, I didn't know if I had a book. But I kept talking to people and it started to snowball. I just had all these spreadsheets about each topic and quotes from all the people I talked to... . It was a great big puzzle.

Q. But you knew how to pull it together. Had you always wanted to be a writer?

A. It had never crossed my mind. I just started doing a few small write-ups and kept at it until I was supporting myself writing full-time ... if you believe in something enough, you can make it happen.

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