How 16 Rock Stars Changed Their Sound


Nothing was the identical after grunge arrived, and rock’s greatest artists reacted to the sudden and seismic adjustments in very totally different and typically stunning methods.

The close to simultaneous early ’90s mainstream ascendancy of bands akin to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains completed the job of killing the ’80s that Guns N’ Roses had begun a couple of years earlier. Hairspray, processed studio sounds and lyrics about partying all night time lengthy have been out; plaid shirts and moody, earthier songs about extra critical subjects have been in.

“I am going to always remember strolling into [Columbia President] Don Lenner’s workplace, seeing this large poster of Alice in Chains’ Filth over his secretary’s desk,” Warrant entrance man Jani Lane instructed Musician. “And I assumed, ‘Hi there, Seattle … goodbye, Warrant.'”

Some profitable careers did grind to a halt that shortly, even those that tried to slot in with new information that sounded quite a bit like those dominating the airwaves. Some artists cherry-picked a couple of suggestions and tips from their new competitors and have been capable of stick with it comparatively unscathed. Others welcomed the chance to maneuver away from the ’80s aesthetic in utterly new methods. Some even joined forces with their new friends. And nearly all people received new haircuts.

We check out the Album After Grunge Hit: How 16 Rock Stars Modified Their Sound beneath.

Van Halen, Stability (1995)

Though the intense, darker temper of Van Halen’s fourth and final album with Sammy Hagar can partially be attributed to large adjustments of their private lives – together with Eddie Van Halen‘s newfound sobriety, fracturing interpersonal relations inside the group and the dying of supervisor Ed Leffler – Hagar instructed UCR the arrival of a brand new breed of rock star positively had an affect. Tracks like “Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do)” present the band adapting to the brand new local weather, however the album is taken into account the least cohesive of the “Van Hagar” period.

“I feel it fucked with all people’s head slightly bit,” Hagar stated of the grunge revolution. “As a result of we began getting pushed apart by MTV and the media. Everybody began taking a look at grunge as the subsequent large factor. If you’re one of many greatest bands on the earth, it’s like Elvis [Presley] with the Beatles, I suppose, you’re sort of going, ‘Will we embrace this, or can we fuckin’ say that they suck?’”


Rush, Counterparts (1993)

Though some followers have theorized that the heavier, extra guitar-oriented method of Rush‘s 1993 Counterparts album was a response to the ascension of grunge, Alex Lifeson instructed UCR it wasn’t that clear-cut. “Possibly slightly subconsciously,” he famous. “I feel there have been some moments the place we leaned in direction of that grungy sound or association. I feel extra so, it was a response to the last few information, Roll the Bones and Presto. We modified coproducers, and people information, when it comes to sound, have been lighter. I used to be by no means fairly comfy with that.”

Nonetheless, the guitarist was fast to reward the youthful bands and acknowledge their connection to Rush. “Soundgarden, Pearl Jam – I beloved these bands and I assumed they have been all so good,” he stated. “I feel we influenced a number of these musicians. Definitely a number of them have talked about us of their bios. It is good to have been part of it in that approach.”


Kiss, Carnival of Souls (The Closing Classes) (1997)

Kiss have been responsible of pattern chasing greater than as soon as of their profession, pursuing disco within the late ’70s, concept-album pomposity on 1981’s Music From ‘The Elder’ and keyboard-heavy hair steel on 1987’s Crazy Nights. However Paul Stanley needed no a part of Gene Simmons‘ plans to go grunge on 1997’s Carnival of Souls. “I used to be lifeless set towards doing that sort of an album,” he recalled within the 2001 e book Kiss: Behind the Masks. “I by no means believed that the world wants a second-rate Soundgarden, Metallica or Alice in Chains.’ Though Simmons labeled Carnival “a really courageous report” in the identical e book, 20 years later he instructed UCR his opinion had modified a bit. “Was it as sincere and genuine as our different stuff? No,” he defined. “It is like going to a different nation. You’re keen on the best way East Indians dance, and also you go, ‘Oh, that is cool.’ Then you definately stand up on the dance flooring and also you attempt to do it. Can I dance in addition to anyone who has been dancing East Indian dances all of their lives? No.”


Def Leppard, Slang (1996)

For Def Leppard, the rise of grunge lined up with an inside want to shake up their profitable however more and more predictable ’80s sound. Singer Joe Elliott stated the band first began noticing bands like Nirvana and Alice in Chains across the time of 1992’s Adrenalize. “All of them began trying totally different, all that sort of L.A. glam-metal factor was going away,” he defined in a promotional video. “Swiftly there was youngsters that seemed like they simply received off the bed.” Musically, he preferred the place these bands have been coming from: “It is simply the Beatles with extra fuzz is all it’s, there’s nonetheless melodies.”

So, when Def Leppard received collectively to report 1996’s Slang, they determined to make a sonic shift towards rawer, less-produced music and deal with extra critical and private subjects of their lyrics. “We have been in a state of arrested growth within the band, singing songs like ‘Let’s Get Rocked,'” guitarist Vivian Campbell later instructed Classic Rock. “Grunge was very a lot taking place, and our stuff was anathema on the time. … At the very least it gave us the possibility to develop up slightly.”

In a 2016 interview with Eon Music, Campbell stated Soundgarden supplied notably robust inspiration throughout the Slang periods: “One album that we listened to greater than some other after we have been making that report, which I feel is the most effective report of the grunge period, was Superunknown.”

Whereas Slang did not match the industrial success of Def Leppard’s earlier albums, Elliott stood by the choice to make such large adjustments. “We had achieved three huge overproduced albums – in a great way, that is how we needed them to be – and after 11 years of doing that, we have been bored,” he stated. “So we did not attempt to make a grunge album. We simply tried to simply hone it again a bit and make it one thing that was bit extra sincere.”


Motley Crue, Motley Crue (1994)

Though Motley Crue have been among the many kings of exhausting rock earlier than grunge’s arrival, they have been wanting to rise to the problem. “I welcomed that with the most important open arms on the planet,” Tommy Lee instructed Apple Music in 2020. “I used to be like, ‘Sure. Anyone’s fucking stirring it up.’ All the things was simply sounding the identical.” Having just lately changed authentic singer Vince Neil with John Corabi, the band explored extra critical sounds and subjects on its self-titled 1994 album. The report wasn’t as commercially profitable as earlier information, nevertheless it’s thought of a inventive spotlight by followers and band members.

“I do not assume that Nirvana and Pearl Jam killed the bands you talked about,” Nikki Sixx instructed Kerrang! in 2021 when requested about grunge’s affect on acts akin to Poison and Warrant. “I feel they killed themselves. They have been making copycat music. We, alternatively, merely imploded.”


The Lovemongers, Whirlygig (1997)

The grunge motion could not have arrived at a greater time or place for Heart‘s Ann and Nancy Wilson. Though they’d given in to ’80s synthesizers and hairspray and were rewarded with multiplatinum albums, they weren’t joyful. “I simply sort of get up and go, ‘Properly, you understand, if having hit information means I’ve to be anyone else, then perhaps I am going to simply have information that are not large hits,” Ann Wilson instructed The Guardian of the band’s early ’90s return to a extra natural sound. “I am going to simply do what actually turns me on.”

Nonetheless, Coronary heart was based mostly in Seattle, floor zero for the grunge motion. Pearl Jam and Soundgarden have been among the many bands that recorded at the band’s Unhealthy Animals studio, and the youthful era readily welcomed the Wilson sisters into its circle. “I used to be shocked that there have been events we received invited to, and all people was like, ‘Come on, let’s jam,'” Ann Wilson instructed Classic Rock in 2010. “And all that ’80s stuff that we have been concerned with simply kinda melted away.”

Ann Wilson contributed background vocals to Alice in Chains’ 1992 EP, Sap, and the band’s singer, Layne Staley, returned the favor on Coronary heart’s 1993 album, Want Walks On. Inside a yr the Wilson sisters fashioned an acoustic-based facet mission, the Lovemongers, who launched their debut album, Whirlygig, in 1997.

“We’d taken off the corsets and the fingernails and the extensions, and we have been strolling round in our personal sneakers once more,” Ann Wilson stated. “It was wonderful. An exquisite musical therapeutic that came about.”


Skid Row, Subhuman Race (1995)

Though Skid Row had success with their first two albums, singer Sebastian Bach stated producer Bob Rock pushed them to change their sound to slot in with grunge on 1995’s Subhuman Race. “I keep in mind him saying, ‘Everyone is aware of you’ll be able to scream, Sebastian,’ and suggesting I sing like Scott Weiland [of Stone Temple Pilots],” he instructed Classic Rock in 2002. “Why do not you simply take a thoroughbred racehorse and hit him on the fuckin’ kneecap with a baseball bat?”

Subhuman Race obtained  some constructive evaluations, however Skid Row’s industrial streak faltered, and inventive variations led to Bach’s departure the next yr. “Bands like Nirvana and the entire grunge motion put bands like us out of enterprise for some time,” bassist Rachel Bolan instructed the Pittsburgh Tribune-Evaluate (through Blabbermouth) in 2005. “For some time, you did not wish to say you have been in Skid Row. Folks would say, ‘What, the ’80s hair band?'”


Dokken, Shadowlife (1997)

“Plain and easy, [it was] us attempting to have a distinct method … extra fashionable or no matter,” bassist Jeff Pilson stated of Dokken‘s 1997 album Shadowlife, which traded their melodic exhausting rock for one thing extra brooding and darkish. “The world had modified a lot, and it was us attempting to adapt,” he instructed the Double Cease in 2015 (through Blabbermouth). “Plus, the producer, Kelly Grey, was very a lot from the entire Seattle world. There’s a few actually great issues on there however general not an impressed or cohesive piece of labor.” Talking to Metal Titans in 2020, singer Don Dokken blamed his bandmates: “I hated that album a lot that I did not permit them to place my Dokken brand on that report. … It simply has a typical font. I instructed the fellows, ‘I simply cannot convey myself to place my identify on that. I feel it is crap!'”


Scorpions, Really feel the Warmth (1993)

Even with out grunge music now on the scene, Scorpions have been going through a crossroads whereas recording 1993’s Face the Warmth. There was temptation to duplicate the success of 1990’s political ballad “Wind of Change,” however as an alternative the band determined to reestablish themselves within the rearranged hard-rock area. “The Scorpions by no means jumped on any tendencies,” singer Klaus Meine insisted in a 1994 Los Angeles Times interview. “We noticed in our profession many waves come and go. [The ascendancy of grunge] does not imply the Scorpions go onstage with shorts on now.”

Nonetheless, the album’s stripped sonics betrayed at the least some capitulation to the brand new musical atmosphere, and Meine had nothing however type phrases for the motion. “I like a few of the stuff as a result of it is actually tough and really near the road,” he stated. “It is simply actual individuals enjoying music. I like the brand new Alice in Chains album, and Stone Temple Pilots is certainly one of my favorites.”

Years later, Meine instructed My Global Mind that one other Scorpions album was much more affected by adjustments within the musical panorama. “It was a time the place you needed to combat to outlive as a traditional rock band,” he famous of 1999’s Eye II Eye, “an album the place we experimented quite a bit. It was not very effectively obtained by our followers, however perhaps it was the most effective mistake we ever did. We discovered how necessary it was to return to the Scorpions DNA.”


Winger, Pull (1993)

Along with struggling as Beavis and Butt-Head‘s favourite objects of scorn, Winger took a direct hit when grunge arrived. “It was exhausting for all of the ’80s bands when that occurred, as a result of they have been ushering in Rob Zombie, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and all of these bands,” Kip Winger instructed the Lokaos Rock Present (through Metal Wani) in 2019. “All the ’80s bands like us have been portrayed as uncool, and I used to be actually singled out by it. We misplaced all our report offers, and rapidly we could not get a job.”

Earlier than Winger broke up in 1994, they have been capable of make an album they have been proud of, transferring away from the glam-metal trappings and material of their earlier work. “There have been issues that occurred on the primary couple of information that have been completely implausible, however there have been additionally some issues in there that didn’t fairly signify who we have been as a band,” Winger instructed Rhino Insider. “When Pull got here, and I used to be capable of work with a few totally different individuals, I used to be capable of refocus the sound of the band again to what I initially hoped for at first.”


Warrant, Ultraphobic (1995)

“I do not understand how we survived it,” Warrant bassist Jerry Dixon instructed Eon Music in 2017 of the grunge revolution and the band’s drop in gross sales following 1992’s Canine Eat Canine. “We just about received blindsided by a complete musical change. I am not going to lie, we have been broken, and in some methods it tore the band up.” However in one other interview with Metal Rules, Dixon insisted the heavier grooves and extra critical material of 1995’s Ultraphobic weren’t a response to the altering instances. “That was the primary report that Jani did not write each music on. We weren’t attempting to slot in or attempting to be grunge. All of us received in a room and wrote that report, and we had a number of totally different guitar kinds and riffs … so that’s the reason it got here out totally different. I really love that report. It is simply robust when you do not have MTV and stuff like that pushing your information anymore.”


Excessive, Ready for the Punchline (1995)

Extreme had the misfortune of releasing their most bold album throughout the peak of the grunge revolution. “Proper when [1992’s] III Sides to Each Story got here out, which clearly was our most grandiose report, with the 70-piece orchestra and every part we threw in and placed on that report, it was proper on the time when Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam have been hitting,” bassist Pat Badger instructed Popdose. “So, all bands of our style and of our time, we have been sort of yesterday’s newspaper and swept below the rug. I feel that report got here out proper at the moment the place everybody was on the lookout for the subsequent Nirvana or Pearl Jam. The report firm sort of misplaced curiosity in Excessive.” The band stripped down its sound for 1995’s Ready for the Punchline, however the report did not reverse Excessive’s industrial fortunes, and they broke up quickly after its launch.


Poison, Native Tongue (1995)

Poison‘s fourth album revealed a definite shift within the band’s music and lyrics. However singer Bret Michaels insisted he by no means felt competitors with grunge artists, although his band was shortly shuttled apart throughout the period. “After I heard ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ I am going, ‘Properly, goddamn, what an incredible music,'” he stated within the e book Everybody Loves Our Town. “Somebody forgot to ship me the memo that I am purported to be hating this or threatened by that. My profession did not finish with grunge. My profession with the media ended with grunge. Most bands get a couple-year window to slowly die down. The media did not kinda shut us off. They utterly shut us off.”


Neil Younger, Mirror Ball (1995)

If one veteran artist had nothing to concern from the arrival of grunge, it was Neil Young. His music was an enormous affect on the style, and he simply occurred to be in the course of a sizzling inventive streak because the ’90s started. He was shortly adopted because the “Godfather of Grunge” and would up recruiting Pearl Jam as his backing band for his 1995 album, Mirror Ball. The partnership wound up serving to each acts. “He made all of it proper for us to be who we have been,” Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard instructed Spin. “He is not taking his profession so significantly that he cannot take probabilities. Immediately, our band appeared too critical.”


Alice Cooper, The Final Temptation (1994)

Like Neil Younger, Alice Cooper was joyful to welcome the grunge revolution. He even invited Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell to sing on his 1994 album, The Final Temptation. “I actually preferred ‘Black Gap Solar,’ and I met Chris Cornell and I stated, ‘You recognize, I actually just like the Seattle sound. It’s a distinct model of kind of a traditional guitar-rock sound, nevertheless it’s received some depth to it that I actually like,'” he instructed UCR. “I stated, ‘Do you will have something like that that I may write lyrics to?’ He performed me ‘Unholy Struggle,’ and I wrote the lyrics round that. [He also showed me] ‘Stolen Prayer.’ I stated, ‘That’s so good for this album.'”


Robert Plant, Destiny of Nations (1993)

After proving himself able to delivering ’80s exhausting rock with the hit “Tall Cool One” and Manic Nirvana album, Robert Plant turned his again on the last decade’s excesses with 1993’s acoustic-based Destiny of Nations. The LP seemed again to the ’60s, each musically and with its environmentally minded lyrics.

It would not seem grunge’s arrival performed any particular function in Plant’s stylistic flip, however the timing coincided completely with the altering tides within the music world. “I would just about forgotten how simplistic and harmless, and but how sincere, the cries have been on the finish of the ’60s,” he instructed the Orlando Sentinel. “I used to be astonished at how I by no means had the time to embrace that music for such a very long time.” Plant’s music continued to maneuver farther from his hard-rock roots, drawing from world music, folks and bluegrass in a collection of well-received albums.

High 30 Grunge Albums

From Nirvana and Neil Younger to Melvins and Mudhoney — the most effective works to come back from the ’90s motion.

Gallery Credit score: UCR Workers

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