Seattle wasn’t a particularly hip place in the late 1970s, still seen as the hinterlands by most of America and probably only known for Boeing and University of Washington Huskies football. A little tech company called Microsoft was just starting out, but no one had any idea as to what a juggernaut it would become. It’s only major league team for most of the decade was the NBA’s Supersonics who closed out the decade by winning the league championship, the city’s first major league title since hockey’s Seattle Metropolitans hoisted the Stanley Cup all the way back in 1917, and its last until the Seahawks finally won a Super Bowl in 2013 (that’s right kids, three major professional sports championships in 100 years…).
Seattle in the 1970s was a city that didn’t have a lot to cheer for.
It was also very behind the times musically. While other cities established some musical subcultures, you could have probably fit all of Seattle’s punks inside a school bus (OK, maybe two school buses). But if you want to get to the roots of what later became the grunge scene in the city, you have to go back to these earliest punks, further back than Green River, further back than the Melvins. All the way back to what was arguably Seattle’s first punk rock show, the “TMT Show” on May 1, 1976.
One of the trio of bands that played that night was The Telepaths, and it just so happens that they also left behind a 7″ recorded in 1978 to document their existence. I came across this via a Facebook group – a local collector had a few of these along with some original advertising posters for the Seattle Syndrome compilation he was selling, and I was fortunate enough to pick up one of each. I won’t lie – I was probably more excited about the Seattle Syndrome poster, which I got framed today and up on my wall (see above). As for the 7″, I unknowingly cut my finger while opening the box and subsequently bled all over the faded white paper sleeve, which I guess is kind of punk rock in a way.
This 1978 version of The Telepaths does not sound very punk rock. They sound very folk/prog rock, so I’m not quite sure what the story is here. At one point the vocals reference screaming peacocks. I seriously don’t know what’s happening here, but it’s bizarre. There’s probably a hint of the Velvet Underground, and maybe a whiff of the Doors at their trippiest, but man, it’s just unusual.
This 7″ came out shortly before the band broke up, reforming later as the post-punkish group The Blackouts, a much better outfit in my opinion. Still glad to get my hands on this OG Seattle recording though, regardless of its level of bizarreness.