Jack Endino, who made his humble start in 1985 with a five-dollar-an-hour basement studio and a band named Skin Yard, would go on to produce records for some of rock's rawest and most influential bands. By the mid-'90s -- having worked with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and Tad -- Endino had become synonymous with loud, unpolished, underground rock -- what the media labeled grunge.
Skin Yard, for which Endino played guitar, was formed in 1985 and featured Matt Cameron (drums), Daniel House (bass), and Ben McMillan (vocals). Their self-titled debut, recorded fall 1985 to winter 1986, served as Endino's first step into recording albums for commercial release (C/Z Records 1987). Before the group ended all activities in 1992, they managed to go through a half-dozen noteworthy drummers: Matt Cameron (who later joined Soundgarden), Jason Finn (Presidents of the United States of America/Love Battery), Steve Wied (Tad), Greg Gilmore (Mother Love Bone), Norman Scott (Gruntruck), and finally Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), who stayed with the group until the end.
In 1986, Endino co-founded Reciprocal Recording with partner Chris Hanzsek and began work on Soundgarden's Screaming Life EP and Green River's Dry as a Bone EP. Green River consisted of Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Stone Gossard, and Jeff Ament. While the band didn't achieve any level of commercial success, these individual members would later infest Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone, and Pearl Jam. These two EPs became some of the first Sub Pop releases and marked the beginning of the Endino/Sub Pop relationship.
In the two years to follow, Endino recorded Mudhoney's classic Superfuzz Bigmuff, Screaming Trees' Buzz Factory, and Tad's God's Balls. It was during this time that Endino received a call from an unknown local musician named Kurt Cobain and ended up recording a ten-song demo for Cobain's yet-unnamed band (five of these rough demo songs would later appear on Nirvana's Incesticide). Thinking the group showed as much promise as any of the other Seattle-area bands he had been recording, Endino sent a copy of the demo to Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman.
In 1988 he recorded Nirvana's debut LP, Bleach, which was released on Sub Pop in 1989. Recorded for 606 dollars and 17 cents on an eight-track machine, this recording showcases Endino's knack for capturing raw energetic performances despite technological/financial limitations. Following Bleach, Endino would record Mudhoney's self-titled album, the Afghan Whigs' Up in It and Gas Huffer's Janitors of Tomorrow before leaving Reciprocal Recording in 1991 to pursue a career as freelance producer/engineer.
During the early/mid-'90s Jack Endino worked on records in his hometown of Seattle, as well as abroad in Europe, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. On the home front he worked on the Supersuckers' album The Smoke of Hell, Seven Year Bitch's Viva Zapata, and Mudhoney's My Brother the Cow. Abroad he worked with the band Titãs, earning two gold and two platinum records in Brazil. He also appeared in the 1996 movie Hype! (about the explosive Seattle music scene), in which he was humorously labeled "the godfather of grunge."
The late '90s found Endino still going strong with a whole new generation of loud rock bands. Some noteworthy post-grunge records include the Murder City Devils' Empty Bottles, Broken Hearts, Black Halos' The Violent Years, Zen Guerrilla's Shadows on the Sun, and Nebula's To the Center. As of 2001, having completed an album for the Irish band Therapy? titled Shameless, he is still extremely active as a producer and, occasionally, as a musician.