Tad were one of the heaviest Seattle grunge bands, fashioning a loud, slow, lumbering grind that -- unlike many of their peers -- was inspired far more by '70s metal than punk. Less melodic and accessible than grunge's biggest names, Tad's music simply steamrolled over everything in its way, which likely contributed to their being the last homegrown band on Sub Pop's grunge-era roster to snag a major-label deal. Although the whole band dressed like Northwestern lumberjacks, their redneck image chiefly came courtesy of 300-pound frontman Tad Doyle; their publicity usually emphasized Doyle's previous job as a butcher, and his lyrics often sent up local white-trash culture. Tad's sound changed little even as grunge's heyday passed, and after several years without a record deal, they disbanded.
Tad was formed in Seattle in 1988 by lead vocalist/guitarist Tad Doyle (born Thomas A. Doyle in Boise, ID) and bassist Kurt Danielson, who had previously played together in a group called Bundle of Hiss. They added guitarist Gary Thorstensen and onetime Skin Yard drummer Steve Wied to complete the lineup, and soon landed a deal with Sub Pop. Their debut album, the assaultive God's Balls, was released in 1989 and produced by Jack Endino. Songs like "Satan's Chainsaw," "Pork Chop," and "Nipple Belt" established the band's collective persona, and they supported the record as Nirvana's opening act on the Bleach tour. Their follow-up, 1990's Salt Lick, was recorded with noisemeister Steve Albini in the producer's chair.
Switching producers once again, Tad turned in their most melodic Sub Pop album under the guidance of Butch Vig (of Nevermind fame) with 1991's 8-Way Santa, which spawned the tongue-in-cheek single "Jack Pepsi." The original cover photo -- a man fondling a woman's breast -- had been found at a garage sale, and was subsequently removed when the woman in question discovered the record and sued. Meanwhile, Tad was enjoying a growing cult following, underlined by Doyle's brief cameo in Cameron Crowe's Seattle-based romantic comedy Singles. The band was offered a major-label contract by Warner Brothers subsidiary Giant, but drummer Wied exited the group before they began work on their next album. He was replaced by Josh Sinder, formerly of hardcore punkers the Accused, for Tad's major-label debut, Inhaler. Produced by Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis and issued in 1993, Inhaler failed to make the band into breakout stars, despite an opening slot on tour with Soundgarden. Compounding their disappointing sales was Giant's displeasure at a controversial promo poster for the album, which featured a picture of Bill Clinton smoking a joint with the caption "This is heavy sh*t."
Giant unceremoniously dropped Tad from its roster, and guitarist Thorstensen left in 1994, reducing the band to a trio. They subsequently recorded Live Alien Broadcasts, a live-in-the-studio look back over their career that was released by Futurist Records in 1995. They also secured a second major-label shot with Elektra subsidiary EastWest, which released Infrared Riding Hood later in 1995. The album went nowhere, and Tad were dropped once again. They kept gigging for a few years afterward; Sinder left in 1997, later joining Willard, and was replaced by ex-Foil member Mike Mongrain. However, after a final single release on Amphetamine Reptile, Tad gave up the ghost in 1998. Kurt Danielson joined up with the Screaming Trees/Mudhoney side project Valis, while Tad Doyle formed a new group, Hog Molly, that released an album called Kung-Fu Cocktail Grip in 2001. ~ Steve Huey