Jason Everman holds a rare title of being a minor footnote in, not one, but two of the biggest grunge bands of the nineties, following his unsuccessful stints in both Soundgarden and Nirvana. But it’s these casualties that lead him on the path to becoming an American war hero, he says in a new interview by the New York Times.
The Alaska-born musician (above, centre right) started his career on a high when he became the guitarist for Nirvana. His metal-leaning music tastes endeared himself to Sub Pop who saw that as the perfect direction for the band, and the group warmed towards him when he played off the money they owed from recording debut album Bleach.
Soon, however, tour life and living on the road unravelled the stitches that held Nirvana and Everman together and plunged him into a dark hole that the rest of the band couldn’t penetrate. Frontman Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic soon wanted him out so, just like that, he was axed from the team.
Even with more than 20 years of time to reflect, Everman still doesn’t have a clear answer for what went wrong, “It just ended”. The band’s members, however, found it the musician’s own doing, with Novoselic claiming that Everman isolated himself from the group and Cobain coldly dismissing him as a “moody metalhead”.
Next on the agenda for Everman came an opportunity with fellow Seattle front-runners Soundgarden, with Everman joining the band when their bass player abruptly quit the outfit in 1989. The band took to the road and, again, Everman couldn’t cope.
Although a huge blow, Everman finally found his calling when he lay his guitar down and became an elite member of the U.S. Army Special Forces serving tours in Afghanistan and Iraq in 1994, just as the bands he was formerly a part of were reaching their heights of fame.
He had just started his last phase of training on September 11 2001 and was thrown onto the front row of one of the biggest conventional military operations since World War II. The Alaska-born musician likens his experiences in the Army to those of being in a band. “It’s a heightened state,” he says.
He recounted the experience to the publication: ”Iraqi tanks were exploding all around, turrets shooting off into the desert. I saw stuff I never thought I’d see. Buildings blew up in front of me, dude.”
Everman received medal after medal in the Army, including the coveted Combat Infantryman Badge. After seeing success fly past him on two occasions, the talented guitarist seemed to have finally found his place in the war.
Jason Everman was given an honourable discharge in 2006 and went on to enrol in philosophy courses at Columbia University.
You can read the full interview and NY Times piece here.