They may never have made as big a splash commercially as some of the other "grunge" (a genre they pioneered) acts out of the Great North West, but Tad (named after band leader & ex-butcher Tad Doyle), who formed in 1988, sure made their mark in other lasting ways.
They were banned by MTV, sued by Pepsi, dropped by their label and got into heavy drinking and drugging, not to mention heavy situations, it seemed, wherever they went-- including landing in legal trouble over the found picture of a couple that they utilized (without permission) as an album cover.
Now finally there is a film about the long-defunct band Tad. Titled Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears and made by Ryan Short and Adam Pease for King of Hearts Productions, it's planned for release on DVD on February 19th. Check out the clip above and visit the film makers' MySpace for more info on this documentary which looks like it will be pretty damn good.
Exactly twenty years ago, in early '88, Tad was formed by singer/guitarist Tad Doyle and bassist Kurt Danielson who recruited both Gary Thorstensen as guitarist and Steve Wied (formerly of Skin Yard) as their drummer. That was the original lineup and the band signed to the then new label Sub Pop, who released their debut album God's Balls in early 1989. The album track "Wood Goblins" was released as a single and video but was reportedly banned by MTV over content (scroll down to see the video).
In 1991 their second album 8-Way Santa was released, apparently named after a type of blotter acid-- one of their drugs of choice (along with liquor). The album, which was produced by Butch Vig, was more accessible than their previous work and featured the single "Jack Pepsi" which became their most popular song to date but got them sued by the soft-drink corporation because for the artwork of they utilized the Pepsi logo, only with the word TAD photoshopped in to replace the word PEPSI.
Another lawsuit related to the album 8-Way Santa was over the original cover art -- a picture of a man fondling a woman's breast -- which reportedly band members found in a bunch of old Polaroids at some yard sale.
The couple captured in the photograph, one of whom had since become a born-again Christian and remarried, didn't share the joke when they later discovered to their horror that they were cover art material. They sued Sub Pop, who promptly recalled the album and changed its cover art.
A later piece of Tad artwork that landed them in yet more trouble was a promotional poster for their Giant Records (the Warner label that signed them away from Sub Pop after seeing the band's brief appearance in the movie Singles) release Inhaler that featured a picture of Bill Clinton smoking a joint with the caption "This is heavy shit." Giant Records were so unhappy and nervous with this poster image that it led to the band being dropped from their roster.
Throughout the nineties, Tad, who went through some personnel changes, continued to record & release records on different labels but never quite got the recognition that they deserved and finally broke up in 1999. Their final single "Oppenheimer's Pretty Nightmare"/"Accident On The Way To Church" on Up Records was released the previous year.
While some suggest that Tad's music was just too hard and heavy for the masses for the band to crossover, I disagree and my personal belief is that they were too non-conformist for the tight-laced corporate music industry -- not to mention that their lead singer Tad Doyle, a man of much girth, did not fit the streamlined, handsome, slim-and-trim image of marketable pop star. Let's be honest: the pop world is the most discriminatory of all.
Hopefully when it is released on DVD next month Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears will offer some more insights on the band that was Tad. Be sure to look for it and purchase it at any of the three Amoeba Music stores when it drops on Feb 19th. Meantime, peep the video for "Wood Goblins" below.