Pell Mell - Biography

By Marcus Kagler

Pell Mell remained an enigmatic band throughout their seventeen year career. An underground instrumental alt-rock group comprised almost entirely of Northwest producers the group embraced multiple musical genres from surf guitars, psychedelic, Krautrock, ambient, and even dub often on the same album. Founded in Portland, Oregon in 1980 the band had a revolving lineup of musicians throughout the first half the 80’s with drummer Robert Beerman the only core member. After gigging around the Northwest the group released their debut EP, Rhyming Guitars (1982) on the tiny independent label Indoor. The following year keyboardist Steve Fisk joined the line up and the group issued the cassette only album, For Years We Stood Clearly as One Thing (K Records) in 1985. By this time Pell Mell developed a stable line up with Greg Freeman (formerly of The Call) on bass, and David Spalding on guitars. In 1988 the group released their first official full length, The Bumper Crop on influential indie label SST. The next two years found Pell Mell on hiatus as Fisk began producing acts like The Screaming Trees and Soundgarden while Freeman went behind the boards for Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 and Royal Trux.

Pell Mell returned in 1991 with a more streamlined album, Flow (SST). One of the Flow tracks was used in a Microsoft commercial, which led to the band signing with major label Geffen Records for their 1995 full length, Interstate (DGC). Although the album was critically praised it wasn’t the next Nevermind their label was hoping for. By this time the members of Pell Mell were living in different cities and focusing more on production jobs than the band. When Pell Mell completed a follow up, Star City, in 1997, DGC had already dropped the group. Indie tastemaker label Matador picked up the record and shortly after its release the members of Pell Mell went their separate ways.


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