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The Rock ’n’ Roll Casualty Who Became a War Hero
July 2, 2013 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Jason Everman has the unique distinction of being the guy who was kicked out of Nirvana and Soundgarden, two rock bands that would sell roughly 100 million records combined. At 26, he wasn’t just Pete Best, the guy the Beatles left behind. He was Pete Best twice. Then again, he wasn’t remotely. What Everman did afterward put him far outside the category of rock’n’roll footnote. He became an elite member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, one of those bearded guys riding around on horseback in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.
posted by Rangeboy (49 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, awesome that this was written by the lead guitarist of Bullet LaVolta.
posted by mykescipark at 11:48 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


There was an Atlanta drummer who got chucked out of both Drivin 'n Cryin and Michelle Malone's band, as soon as they got signed to major labels. Both times, the record company (Island and Elektra, respectively) did it. They thought he was unreliable, which may have been true.
posted by thelonius at 11:49 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I predict this guy will one day have a most awesome obituary. Hopefully many, many years from now.
posted by 4ster at 11:52 AM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Neat find. This transports me back.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:54 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It remindsme of the story of the tiger raised by goats.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:01 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Without talking about the very troubling term "War Hero", I'll instead just say that this is a pretty amazing story.

It's a long read and I'm not through it, but so far my favorite line is:
"He offered me funyuns."
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:04 PM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Amazing story.
posted by bongo_x at 12:16 PM on July 2, 2013


There was an Atlanta drummer who got chucked out of both Drivin 'n Cryin and Michelle Malone's band

Yeah, but Nirvana and Soundgarden are famous.
posted by biffa at 12:20 PM on July 2, 2013 [23 favorites]


Also, awesome that this was written by the lead guitarist of Bullet LaVolta.

AND the lead guitarist of Chavez, one of the best bands ever. TRUE FACT. And not just that but he wrote the underrated movie Joyride, and he's writing Dodgeball 2 (?!) . . . and based on this article he's a killer journalist/author too.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 12:23 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bullet LaVolta were terrible, however.
posted by josher71 at 12:25 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The entire time I was reading this, I kept bracing myself for the gut-punch horrible ending that I just knew was coming. So glad my worst fears were ill-founded.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:34 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yikes.

In “Come as You Are,” the definitive book on Nirvana, by Michael Azerrad, Cobain dismissed Everman as a “moody metalhead.” Even worse, he boasted about not paying Everman back for “Bleach,” claiming it was payment for “mental damages.”


And you thought the guys running the record company were bastards.
posted by bukvich at 12:39 PM on July 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


The cloud didn’t go anywhere; it just didn’t matter anymore. As one of his Special Forces colleagues (who is still on active duty and requested that his name not be published) told me: “He would get moody sometimes, but it didn’t interfere with the task at hand. I would rather work with somebody who is quiet than ran their suck constantly.”

He found a place where he fit in, with all his talents and his warts. We all have to find that. Cool story.
posted by caddis at 12:47 PM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh well whatever nevermind
posted by riverlife at 12:50 PM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't want to blow anyone's mind here, but Mindfunk were also pretty awful.
posted by josher71 at 12:55 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting story, thanks for posting. I feel like it's just a primer. Got finished reading and expected/wanted 6 more pages or so (maybe it's just me - I feel like, recently, even the longer form pieces I read, that when I get to the end, I say "and then?"). But a nice read, thanks.
posted by J0 at 1:01 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


This guy's True Hollywood Story would be pretty good.
posted by JoshFPettigrew at 1:14 PM on July 2, 2013


I saw photos of Everman in fatigues on a warship (“an antipiracy operation in Asia”). A shot of Everman with Donald Rumsfeld. Another with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. And that’s when it hit me. Jason Everman had finally become a rock star.
yuck.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:16 PM on July 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


@josher71 Tried to jump on the 'funk metal' bandwagon of the RHCP and a couple of bits of Faith No More, failed ...
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:23 PM on July 2, 2013


Wait, does anyone actually need to be told that a band called "Mindfuck" is terrible? The only way it could be any more obvious is if it were spelled "Myndphunk."
posted by entropicamericana at 1:24 PM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's something pretty odd about someone who is apparently so punk-rock and introverted, who is for some reason able to feel good about participating in the "wars" on drugs and terrorism. Weird dude.
posted by anarch at 1:29 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


anarch: " about someone who is apparently so punk-rock and introverted, who is for some reason able to feel good about participating in the "wars" on drugs and terrorism. Weird dude."

the hero marches alone
across the highway of death
it's not a matter of right
it's just a matter of war
don't have a reason to fight
never had one before
posted by boo_radley at 1:33 PM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


This piece read like a recruitment brochure: "Fail at everything? Getting older? Tired of seeing your friends be miles more successful than you'll ever be? Do something they don't have the guts to do - join the U.S. Army and become a real rock star!"

I have a friend who was in a fairly popular band - not Nirvana/Soundgarden popular, but popular - who recently joined the Army because they promised her a bunch of the stuff that they promise everyone. With the obvious major difference being the levels of fame involved in the two stories, with a few minor adjustments this could've been about her. The recruiters obviously saw someone who was 27 with no real skills other than playing in a band, someone who was starting to realize she's getting older and her band's never going to be the next Soundgarden or Pixies or whoever. They quickly figured out what she wanted to hear and told her exactly that, and it was extremely disappointing to see her lap up the recruitment lies they fed her. When she was first talking about it, I hoped she'd be smarter than all that, but in the end the siren-song dupery of "We'll make you a doctor! We swear!" was just too much for her wayward ass to resist.
posted by item at 1:39 PM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


yuck

Interestingly, it's like when the hippy generation cashed out around the time grunge hit, when 60s music and boomer counterculture became highly monetized.

Imagine Cobain eating fro-yo. It's easy if you try.
Auctioning old t-shirts and rolling on by.


The gap between rebellion and conformity seemed large when I was young, but now it seems like two sides of a bigger coin. Not sure if it's just my old fat ass getting even more cynical than I thought was ever possible.

This piece read like a recruitment brochure

In a weird way, I think you're right.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:39 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm only ever right in a weird way.
posted by item at 1:42 PM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


In “Come as You Are,” the definitive book on Nirvana, by Michael Azerrad, Cobain dismissed Everman as a “moody metalhead.” Even worse, he boasted about not paying Everman back for “Bleach,” claiming it was payment for “mental damages.”

Y'know, I couldn't ever get into the band after their first hit single, either. The music just didn't do it for me... but the way Cobain always came off as such a jerk never left me interested in giving them more of a shot.

I'm grateful Nirvana led to the Foo Fighters, though. And to this story.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:56 PM on July 2, 2013


I found this story sad on multiple levels, mostly because I hate the military machine and I hate the valorization of "war heroes". I'd find his story more moving, more triumphant even, if he'd done what thousands of others have done, without expecting extra credit: found in the "ordinary" course the rewards and depths offered simply by living a good life. Working in their communities, mostly unknown to the larger world, raising kids, working at an regular job. There is a nobility to be found in the unsung life which is more valuable, to me, than being a professional killer. The outpouring of approval in the comments section in the NYT really speak (at least to me) of a kind of anxiety about what it means to be a man and to be a success: where joining the Army is a logical kind of consolation for missing out on the heroism of the rock star. Guns and guitars. I'd rather read about the guy who got kicked out of Nirvana/Soundgarden and went on to raise a family and found meaning offstage. The unsung heroes, you know? "The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
posted by jokeefe at 2:21 PM on July 2, 2013 [18 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT!
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"... I think I'll be a bartender." Doesn't say much for Columbia's undergrad philosophy program. Or, maybe it does...
posted by paulsc at 2:38 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, item, my brother was Navy, though it wasn't a happy experience (for a variety of external reasons), and still wishes it were otherwise. I considered the Navy myself but ultimately rejected that course, considering the truism that recruiters could promise the moon and the stars and you still end up checking bills of lading in Long Beach, and I'm glad I did. But it's definitely a life that some people find rewarding and I don't begrudge them that, especially if they can succeed (and a CIB is definitely evidence of that). I also salute people coming to the military from a variety of backgrounds (like the iconic Tom Hanks character in SPR, a teacher), rather than all being third-generation Tea Party gung-ho Christian nationalists, and this article seems to support that idea.

Yes, there are other paths than the military, but very few nations don't have a military or a military analogue. This wasn't hagiographic glurge about "heroes", it's a profile of a thoughtful man who tried other things and then tried the military, which turned out to be the best choice for him. I respect that.
posted by dhartung at 2:39 PM on July 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


This wasn't hagiographic glurge about "heroes", it's a profile of a thoughtful man who tried other things and then tried the military, which turned out to be the best choice for him.

All due respect dhartung, but the article was a hagiographic glurge, of the worst sort, because it transferred the adulation of the audience to the adulation of a dealer of death in the Special Forces. It specifically makes them equivalent: I saw photos of Everman in fatigues on a warship (“an antipiracy operation in Asia”). A shot of Everman with Donald Rumsfeld. Another with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. And that’s when it hit me. Jason Everman had finally become a rock star.
posted by jokeefe at 2:44 PM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but Nirvana and Soundgarden are famous.
posted by biffa


Sure, but no one knew that those Atlanta artists were going to flounder. DnC got signed when U2 liked their tape and called Island executives, it looked like a real big deal. The Mr. Crowe's Garden drummer, in fact, quit to replace the guy who Island sacked, and everyone understood - it was a chance for the big time. Of course in a couple of years, they changed their name to the Black Crowes, and went on to have a much bigger career....a valuable lesson for everyone who thought that the major label chariot was coming to swing low and make them famous, just because there was a contract.

No one knows what's going to stick with the public. Hell, the article even says the author's circle all thought Nirvana were lame.
posted by thelonius at 3:07 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"the article was a hagiographic glurge"

I will try not to be combative .. but aren't you letting your "hate the military machine" color your perception of an article which is an interesting depiction of someone who could have been oh-so-famous went on to change his life completely and did something very different with quite some measure of success?

Perhaps the writer doesn't share your intense dislike for "valorization of war heros" but his observation of Jason becoming a "rock star" is true in context of those who worked with him .."Dude, do you know what that guy’s done?"

To me, the article is superficial in the sense that it doesn't examine or search for why the choices were made as they were .. its more of a narration of what happened. There is really not much there about why Jason was moody or what was the driving force between his change from music to guns ...

It might have to do with the fact that Jason doesn't seem very communicative about himself.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 3:10 PM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm afraid I am replying a little bit combatively. When I read this line: "Dude, do you know what that guy’s done?" all I could think of was dead children in a ditch. But yes, I am probably letting my hatred of the military colour my reaction, so I will bow out here. It's a lovely day outside, after all.

I still like Nirvana, after all these years.
posted by jokeefe at 3:17 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


it was extremely disappointing to see her lap up the recruitment lies they fed her. When she was first talking about it, I hoped she'd be smarter than all that, but in the end the siren-song dupery of "We'll make you a doctor! We swear!" was just too much for her wayward ass to resist.

Yeah, because the military couldn't actually be right for anyone, and none of those benefits and education could actually be true.

I'm sure she appreciates your sneering disdain for her own agency in the matter.
posted by ctmf at 4:14 PM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Chavez, one of the best bands ever.

Holy fuck, yes - everyone GO BUY THEIR RECORDS RIGHT NOW!!!

Interesting article, Rangeboy. Thanks for posting.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:30 PM on July 2, 2013


Lots of good lines in there. Here's one:
"It’s almost like a dare that went too far — and it keeps going.” At 45, he just received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
posted by notyou at 4:36 PM on July 2, 2013


who recently joined the Army because they promised her a bunch of the stuff that they promise everyone. . .

Hadn't she seen Private Benjamin??

--

This was a GREAT article. I can't imagine having that kind of life, with that many distinctly different AND interesting turns.
posted by MoxieProxy at 4:40 PM on July 2, 2013


boo_radley - you forgot the end of Hero:

They're gonna rip you apart
You're gonna burn at the stake
'Cause when it's time to collect
It's only heroes who pay
posted by Smedleyman at 5:06 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


//Yeah, but Nirvana and Soundgarden are famous.//

Drivin N Cryin is still making new music, still touring, still doing what they love. Kurt Cobain is dead. I think you might be misreading who the winner is here.
posted by COD at 6:48 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


From a Mefite who wishes to remain anonymous:
It might interest some of you that somebody here actually knows Jason and considers him a good person, both flawed and generous. He has become a much happier man in the years since joining the Army, and I honestly doubt he gives two flying fargos about the public perception regarding the band part of his life. Truth by told, I myself am ambivalent about this article, knowing what a deeply private person he is. Maybe Clay convinced him to do it somehow.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:46 PM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


jokeefe, respectfully disagree. I live in an area which is suffused with right-wing propaganda and what could (and in some ways is) a neat program [I won't name it here] which is primarily about giving the "Greatest Generation" veterans free trips to Washington to see the memorials, but is promoted with hagiographic glurge of the first order.

The NYT is not known for being the favorite publication of the Tea Party. I don't know what you want a leading publication to write about the people who serve our country. I know I don't want to hate them. I want to hate specific policies and choices that were not made by the men and women who carry them out. It's a difficult balancing act, but I think it's worth attempting.
posted by dhartung at 11:08 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


> both Drivin 'n Cryin and Michelle Malone's band Yeah, but Nirvana and Soundgarden are famous.

I am so confused about famous now.
posted by desuetude at 12:30 AM on July 3, 2013


The Blue is becoming a much more reliable place to get knee-jerk sanctimony these days, as witnessed by some of these comments.

Maybe he committed an unheard of Mai Lai, maybe he managed to live a moral life despite being in the Special Forces, we don't really know. Also, nothing about this article was meant to sell anything other than, here's a guy whose path was probably singular, who won't probably write an autobiography to tell you about it so I will, and that path continues as his third act looks to be academic or, as he put it, maybe tending bar.

I thought this was a nicely written piece about an interesting person, with a funny twist to his life path, thanks for the post.

P.S.

Drivin N Cryin were great.
posted by C.A.S. at 1:11 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I predict this guy will one day have a most awesome obituary. Hopefully many, many years from now.

Here lies Jason Everman: Former Bassist for Soundgarden, Nirvana and decorated member of US Special Forces who died tragically rescuing his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship
posted by Thoth at 3:26 AM on July 3, 2013


I like the article a lot. Jason sounds like a guy who's tortured by something unspeakable of which he may be unaware. Or maybe he's just an introvert who doesn't want to share his inner world with everybody. Regardless, he was really close to gobs of money and fame (twice!) yet he managed to find structure, purpose, and meaning. That's hard to do even without the dark cloud of leaving two stable bands.

The army isn't perfect, but a lot of people gain a sense of purpose and place through its structure. It sounds like Jason is far from a strawman meathead, and is quite a thoughtful guy (as evidenced by his philosophy coursework). I bet he has good stories, if he decides to tell them to you.

Also, Kim Thayil always sounds like the coolest guy.
posted by Turkey Glue at 7:10 AM on July 3, 2013


Drivin' n' Cryin' were also on the forefront of using punctuation in your band name.
posted by josher71 at 12:06 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sure she appreciates your sneering disdain for her own agency in the matter.

My sneering disdain isn't directed at her agency, but rather the bloated agency called the U.S. Army, an organization that by design represses and kills - no matter how many Great Life Skills one gets from being a part of it.

It's not the 1950's anymore - by enlisting in the modern Army, you're willfully joining up with an institution with a horrible human rights track record and I really don't give a fuck how great it looks on a resume or how wonderful it is at giving structure to misguided souls.

Fact is, my friend is very much in the wrong and deeply foolish for falling for their lies, and I pity her and anyone else suckered into joining up with that monstrous organization.
posted by item at 1:31 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


an organization that by design represses and kills - no matter how many Great Life Skills one gets from being a part of it.

Are you talking about the Army, or Wall Street?
posted by bongo_x at 5:57 PM on July 5, 2013


[Deleted the imaginary-place-of-work derail. Hey, guys, maybe stick more to the thread topic, or just take it to email if you want to spar one-on-one. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 5:49 AM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


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