It’s weird to think that Elliott Smith’s solo stuff started out as a home-recorded side project to his main gig, Heatmiser, who would sign to Virgin Records in 1995. Ultimately, the solo work would eclipse the band but you might not have predicted that at the time.
Smith and Neil Gust were college pals and after they graduated they moved back to Portland and formed Heatmiser with Smith’s high school buddy Tony Lash on drums and Brandt Peterson on bass. They demoed “dozens of songs” in 1992 and self-released six of them on a cassette titled “The Music of Heatmiser” that they sold at shows and local record shops. And now Third Man Records is reissuing The Music of Heatmiser “on vinyl and streaming for the first time, along with 23 demos, live tracks, rare versions and never before released songs.” With the announcement Third Man has dug up a live video of “Lowlife” from a 1993 show in Fort Collins, Colorado.
It’s fun to hear young Elliott Smith rocking out and hollering. It’s two minutes of grungy Pacific Northwest juvenilia but there’s still a poppy sense of melody underneath and the band kicks ass.
Video: Heatmiser – “Lowlife” (Live)
The Music of Heatmiser is due October 6 on Third Man.
From Dead Air (Frontier, 1993).