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Skin Yard

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Group Members: Barrett Martin, Jack Endino

All Music Guide:

Possibly the least appreciated of Seattle's early grunge pioneers, Skin Yard never broke out of the deeper levels of the underground. Unlike most of their peers, they never made it onto the Sub Pop roster, nor did their key personnel go on to breakout stardom with other bands. They did, however, contribute drummers to acts like Soundgarden and the Presidents of the United States of America, and guitarist Jack Endino became the local scene's pre-eminent producer and engineer, helming records for nearly every Sub Pop luminary. Endino and bassist Daniel House formed Skin Yard in 1985, at the dawn of the grunge era. They were joined by vocalist Ben McMillan and drummer Matt Cameron, the latter of whom had played with House in a group called Feedback. Skin Yard made their live debut in June 1985, and first appeared on record later that year with their contribution to Deep Six, a C/Z Records compilation that marked the vinyl debut of other important early grunge artists, including Green River, the Melvins, Malfunkshun, and Soundgarden.

Initially tabbed as something of a sister band to Soundgarden, Skin Yard's early sound shared the thick, molten, psychedelic sludge of Chris Cornell and company's formative years. The two also boasted relatively complicated arrangements, which in Skin Yard's case would later give way to a more straightforward heaviness. Their self-titled debut album, issued in early 1986 by C/Z, landed on the artier end of the spectrum, however, with the deliberate tempos leaving plenty of room for vocal and guitar dramatics. Matt Cameron subsequently left the group, and joined Soundgarden two months later. Replacement drummers Steve Wied (later of Tad) and Greg Gilmore (later of Mother Love Bone) played with Skin Yard for two gigs apiece. That fall, the band settled on Jason Finn as a permanent member, but he too left after a few months to travel to Europe; he would later go on to work with Love Battery, the Fastbacks, and the Presidents of the United States of America.

Scott McCullum (aka Norman Scott) came onboard as Skin Yard's new drummer for their sophomore LP, 1988's Hallowed Ground, which appeared on the Toxic Shock label. By all accounts, the supporting tour was a trying experience; upon returning to Seattle, the band cut one more album, the heavier Fist Sized Chunks, which was released on Cruz Records in early 1990. Meanwhile Skin Yard went on hiatus; by this time, Endino's career as a producer and engineer was picking up steam, and he'd already worked on landmark records by bands like Mudhoney and Nirvana (who had, at Endino's request, played their first Seattle gig opening for Skin Yard). House, meanwhile, had been working as a sales manager for Sub Pop, and had also acquired the C/Z label from founders Chris Hanszek and Tina Casale, which he built into a fairly successful indie enterprise.

Skin Yard's hiatus lasted for over a year, during which time McCullum departed and the band fully expected to call it quits. However, the band was revitalized by the arrival of Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin, who made his debut on what many considered the most fully realized Skin Yard album, 1991's 1000 Smiling Knuckles. Following its completion, Daniel House left the band to spend more time with his new family, and was replaced by Pat Pedersen. Pedersen debuted on 1992's Inside the Eye, a slightly more metallic record that also proved to be Skin Yard's swan song; they disbanded not long after. Pedersen and Martin both played on Endino's solo project Endino's Earthworm. Ben McMillan, meanwhile, reunited with Scott McCullum in Gruntruck, which got some attention from metal audiences; the two later reteamed in Mona Diesel. House continued to run C/Z into the new millennium, and Endino continued his production career. In 2001, C/Z issued a limited-edition collection of Skin Yard rarities and outtakes, titled Start at the Top.


Skin Yard was an American rock band from Seattle, Washington, who were active from 1985 to 1992. The group never gained a mainstream audience, but were an influence on their contemporaries – most notably Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, The Melvins, and Green River – alongside whom they are considered the early pioneers of the sound that would later be called grunge.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Music history[edit]

The band was formed in January 1985 by Daniel House and Jack Endino, who were subsequently joined by Ben McMillan and Matt Cameron. Skin Yard played its first official concert in June 1985, opening for the U-Men. In 1986, Skin Yard contributed two songs to the now-legendary Deep Six compilation. This album, in addition to featuring the first commercial recordings of The Melvins, Soundgarden, Malfunkshun and Skin Yard, was the first to showcase the early grunge sound. That same year, Skin Yard released their self-titled debut album and their first single, Bleed.

Shortly after these releases, drummer Matt Cameron left the band to join Soundgarden, after which the band went through a series of drummers. He was initially replaced by Steve Wied, followed by Greg Gilmore; however both drummers lasted only two shows. In the fall, Jason Finn joined, but left after eight months for personal reasons. Scott McCullum filled the vacancy in May 1987 and he remained for two years, during which time the band recorded and released their second album, Hallowed Ground (1988). However, McCullum left and the band took a fourteen month hiatus after a U.S. tour quoted as being "the tour from hell".

Skin Yard returned in 1990 with their third album, Fist Sized Chunks, and their final drummer, Barrett Martin. In 1991, as grunge was breaking into the mainstream, the band released their fourth album, 1,000 Smiling Knuckles. That same year, original bassist Daniel House left the band to spend more time with his family. He was replaced by Pat Pedersen, who stayed with the band for the recording of their final album, Inside the Eye, which featured the single "Undertow". After recording was completed, Skin Yard decided to disband, and the album was released shortly after.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).


Prior to the breakup, Ben McMillan and Scott McCullum had started the band Gruntruck as a side-project, and continued to perform with the band after Skin Yard's demise. By the time Gruntruck disbanded, they had released two albums and one EP. Ben McMillan died from diabetes in 2008.

Pat Pedersen and Barrett Martin worked with Jack Endino on his solo album Endino's Earthworm. Endino also released two other solo albums, Angle of Attack and Permanent Fatal Error. Endino has largely switched from working as a performer to working as a music producer. He produced several albums by the grunge bands Soundgarden (a band including original Skin Yard drummer Matt Cameron) and Mudhoney; more recently he has produced albums by artists such as Hot Hot Heat and ZEKE.

Daniel House, as owner and president of C/Z Records, continued to release records until 2001 when he released the Skin Yard rarities album, Start at the Top.

Barrett Martin joined Screaming Trees and drummed on their albums Sweet Oblivion and Dust. Screaming Trees went on hiatus and finally broke up in 2000. Martin has also toured with R.E.M.. During the late 1990s, Martin formed the grunge supergroup Mad Season with Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley, Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready, and bassist John Baker Saunders. Mad Season released one album before breaking up in 1999.

Jason Finn, who was replaced by McCullum in Skin Yard, went on to drum for psychedelic rock band Love Battery until 1995 and the post-grunge band The Presidents of the United States of America until their breakup in 1998. The Presidents of the United States of America has since reunited, with Finn still drumming.

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