As writer Clark Humphrey noted way back in 1993, one of the biggest clichés when describing Northwest bands is that such-and-such a band "is not your typical Seattle band." Chances are you have seen everybody from Sky Cries Mary to Forced Entry to FCS North described that way. In truth, only about a handful of bands defined the “typical Northwest sound,” while the rest of them played hard rock, punk, garage, metal, new wave, or whatever. Obviously, labeling everything “grunge” or “not grunge” makes for crappy and lazy music journalism that only gives a narrow view of what happened in Seattle over the past couple of decades.
That said, Room Nine weren't your typical Seattle band (har har). If anything, their rainy day sound had more in common musically with 1980's UK post-punk bands like the Chameleons, Echo and the Bunnymen, and, at times, the Psychedelic Furs than with all the My War-era Black Flag meet Black Sabbath influenced punk bands. They played mid-tempo songs with plenty of reverb and chorus, which would probably sound a bit dated today if it weren’t for such a renewed interest in that sound among so many modern bands. Seattle, of course, had its fair share of other UK-influenced pop bands, such as early Pure Joy or Weather Theatre, which goes to show it wasn’t just stinky guys in flannel shirts abusing their Big Muff fuzz pedals in the club scene.
Room Nine was formed in the early 80s by singer/guitarist Ron Rudzitis (or Ron Nine), bassist/keyboardist Scott Boggan, and drummer Scott Vanderpool and was probably one of the few local bands that had their own lightman, Michael Laton. They made their live debut opening for Student Nurse and were signed to C’est La Mort records, which might have been Louisiana’s only independent label that specialized in synth pop, goth, and post-punk. Scott Vanderpool eventually moved to Olympia and showed up in bands like the Young Pioneers and Chemistry Set and was replaced by Shawn Allen, who stuck with the band until their break-up in the late eighties.
Room Nine contributed “Angel Sings” to the 1986 C’est La Mort compilation record, Doctor Death's Volume I, and “A Thousand Years” to the 1987 Ironwood Records compilation, Lowlife. The Lowlife compilation, which features a photo of Chris Cornell on the cover, was recorded Jay Follette and Paul Scoles and also featured songs by Vexed, Walkabouts, Pure Joy, Feast (featuring a pre-Mudhoney Dan Peters), Bundle of Hiss, Terry Lee Hale, Melting Fish, Clay Alien, and 5 Sides Collide. (Incidentally, Ironwood studio is also where Chris Hanzsek recorded Soundgarden, Melvins, Skin Yard, etc. for the 1985 C/Z records debut, the Deep Six compilation.) Room Nine then released their only full-length, the Voices….. of a Summer’s Day in 1987, played around town a lot, and then broke up around the turn of the decade.
Ron went on to form Love Battery and has since reunited with Scott Boggan and Vanderpool as the band, Down with People. Both Love Battery and Down with People will be playing the Geezerfest at the Crocodile on August 25th and 26th.
Seas Without a Shore
Don't Look Back
For some reason, mediamax won't upload the last couple songs, but you can get them all in a .zip file here.
- MC Tom