Jack Endino, the acclaimed Seattle record producer who’s worked with Nirvana, Mark Lanegan and the Sonics, can usually be found in the studio, adding to a résumé that runs to well over 400 recordings.
But he’s also a musician, with a single out next month (from his upcoming solo album, “Set Myself On Fire”), and a live date with his band, Endino’s Earthworm, Saturday at the Tractor Tavern.
Originally from Connecticut, Endino moved to Seattle in the early 1970s as a teenager. After graduating from the University of Washington and a stint as an engineer at the Bremerton shipyard, he returned to Seattle in 1984, intending to find work on both sides of a recording console.
“I was always interested in bands,” says the multi-instrumentalist, who plays guitar, bass and drums. “But I was also interested in the name of the producer on the record. I’d realized that the record producer must have a lot to do with what you hear. And I wanted to be that guy.”
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By 1987, he was indeed “that guy” for a new crop of Seattle bands — Green River, Soundgarden, Mudhoney — grunge’s starting lineup.
“The grunge thing when it started was basically people with indie rock roots, but maybe when they were in grade school they were listening to Kiss and Black Sabbath,” he says. “I just knew that I was in the middle of some sort of cool music scene, because band after band would come in and record with me. I got to hear all of it before anybody else got to hear it.”
He recorded Nirvana’s first demo, which landed the band its first record deal with Sub Pop, in 1988.
Endino was in bands himself back then, most notably Skin Yard, but after grunge took off, he says, “my career as a producer exploded, and I didn’t have time to be in a band anymore.”
In 2005, he revived his solo career. “Set Myself On Fire,” his fourth solo album, will be released by Ballard-based Fin Records, the neighborhood Endino also calls home as the manager of Soundhouse Recording studio.
When playing live, Endino bills his fuzzy, guitar-bass-drums power trio Endino’s Earthworm.
“I couldn’t really picture getting onstage and playing just as Jack Endino,” he says. “Am I a solo guy with an acoustic guitar? That would be ‘Jack Endino.’ But it’s a band! So I thought I would revive the perfectly good band name I used for my second solo record.”
Is there an act he hasn’t produced that he would like to work with?
“Pearl Jam,” he says, pausing for effect. “But I don’t think they need me.”
Gillian G. Gaar: firstname.lastname@example.org