TAD: Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears: DVD

Aug 21, 2008

My memory of the two times I saw TAD in Vancouver, touring Salt Lick and 8 Way Santa, is remarkably hazy, given how strong an impression TAD’s live show made; faulty synapses notwithstanding, for about a three year period, TAD was the Seattle scene, to me: the best live band, the heaviest, the raunchiest, the most fun to contemplate. Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden—even the fucking Melvins, when they came to town—had nothing on TAD, in my book. I religiously spun TAD’s LP (God’s Balls), EP (Salt Lick), a Sub Pop single, Loser, which remains my favorite song of theirs; and, yes, the cassette version of the soon-to-be-recalled 8 Way Santa. I thought I’d found the ideal soundtrack to twenty-something self-destruction; and then suddenly my enthusiasm was gone, along with, it seemed, the Seattle scene itself—the concentrated energy of “grunge” diffusing out across North America with the breaking of Nirvana until it was nothing but a somewhat silly, flannel-clad cliché.
Looking back, I find myself with a ton of unanswered questions; I mean, I know that Tad Doyle wasn’t really a former slaughterhouse worker or any of that bullshit, but what was the full story with the censored album cover, anyhow? Why, given how much I loved their earlier output, did I buy neither Inhaler nor Infrared Riding Hood (and why did they disappear so quickly, with so little fanfare, upon being released?). Why did Nirvana, Soundgarden, and, to a lesser extent, Mudhoney reap all the benefits of the hype while the loudest, ugliest, and by far the grungiest of “grunge’s” so-called exponents fade away with a whimper, to be almost completely forgotten today? Was there something inherent in the sheer TADness of TAD that simply couldn’t be sustained for long? Was it a joke that was only funny in context? Was it just that I straightened up and didn’t think songs about getting drunk, high, and, say, drowning in a 4X4 accident were that entertaining anymore? Is that what the band went through, as well? This DVD will be great fun for anyone for whom these questions have resonance, and it answers more than a few of them, plus questions I never thought to ask, like, “Where did the title God’s Balls come from, anyway?” Or, “How did Tad Doyle’s Mom feel about it?” Or, best of all, “What does it look like when the gigantic, sweaty giant at the helm of TAD stage dives onto a crowd of much smaller moshers?” Interview-rich, including the big man himself and most of his former bandmates, Sub Pop’s Pavitt and Poneman, Jack Endino, Krist Novoselic, Kim Thayil—even Peter Bagge explaining Doyle’s “guest appearance” in Hate, which is pretty cool; and natch, there’s lots of footage of TAD doing their thing.
Token complaint: why not include a full concert or two with the extras, in the manner o’ the Minutemen DVD? (We only get their rock videos, which are fun, but not the same as getting to see the band at work). And what’s with the hint they drop about a 2008 release of previously unissued Tad material? Where is it, already? –Allan MacInnis (MVD Visual, PO Box 280, Oaks, PA 19456)