Tad: Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears


Tad is the forgotten band of Seattle’s grunge explosion, but there is a case to be made for them being among the scene’s most important artists. In Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears, it is said that in 1989 "Yeah, I’m friends with Kurt," meant Tad bassist Kurt Danielson, not Cobain. They were perhaps the loudest and rawest of the bunch, giving even Mudhoney a run for their money, and their influence was felt throughout the tight-knit musical community. This film, chock full of interviews with everyone from the band members themselves to Jack Endino, Butch Vig, Bruce Pavitt, Jonathan Poneman and Charles Peterson, plus live footage and stills from the time, is really everything a rock documentary should be. It captures both the facts and feel of Tad’s story.

Everything is covered, from Tad’s first 7" (on which Tad Doyle himself played everything) and their European tour with Nirvana (where Tad was often the bigger attraction of the two) to their difficulty with MTV over the "Wood Goblins" video (MTV said it was "too ugly") and the legal and label troubles that plagued them each time they seemed on the verge of commercial success. Despite the difficulties, they came away with quite a few great stories including trouble with a Bill Clinton poster promoting their Inhaler tour and the lawsuit filed by the embarrassed parties over their 8 Way Santa cover.

All of this is set within the changing Seattle scene as grunge took off and in some ways left these favorite sons behind despite having left their mark on all of their friends who made it to the top. Best of all though, the film shows the real people behind the band. They deal frankly with their setbacks (including the role their own excesses played in their troubles). For a band that was on the outer limits of crazy, there’s a surprisingly down to earth story behind it all. At the end of the film, Kurt and Tad get together after seven years. It’s not a poignant moment after some bitter estrangement, just two friends happy to see each other and have a Sprite.

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