By Adam McKinney
Tiny Holes seemed destined for underground music fame, if they hadn’t disbanded so quickly.
The Olympia band only had a few months over the course of 1980 and ’81, in which to spread their delightfully inscrutable New Wave and art-rock stylings, before going their separate ways, with no full-length album ever released.
K Records is rectifying this issue by putting out City of Siege: Olympia, an unearthed recording of Tiny Holes’ last live performance, and celebrating it on May 17 with a release party 38 years (to the day) after that final show. Surviving members will be in attendance to spin music and talk about the album.
The members of Tiny Holes all went on to be deeply involved in many aspects of music: Steve Fisk would produce albums by Screaming Trees, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Beat Happening, among others; Steve Peters found prolific work in sound collages and other audio art; the dearly departed Phillip Hertz would play music, write for magazines and run labels around the world; and Bruce Pavitt eventually co-founded the label Sub Pop.
“They never really recorded in a studio,” said K Records owner, Calvin Jonson, “which was strange, because they were all people who seemed to be involved in recording.”
“But as a live band, they had a lot of energy,” Johnson continued. “They’d go off in different ways, but they were using New Wave instruments: guitar, bass, drum machines and synthesizers. They had these catchy pop songs, but they had this side to them where it seemed they didn’t want people to like their music, to a certain extent. It was a strange dichotomy, but lovable.”
Tiny Holes, as captured on City of Siege: Olympia, was challenging, almost defiant, in ways that aren’t always explained by its extensive improvisation. The first real song of the set, “Russian Satellites,” is abstruse in a way that gives no indication of the catchiness of later tracks like “Adventure.”
Tiny Holes, it seems, wanted to take us on a journey of exploration. But, if one decided they wanted to wait by the car, the band have would have no problem leaving them behind.
Tiny Holes’ City of Siege: Olympia Record Release Party
Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery
1201 S. Vale St., Seattle
Friday, May 17