The Godfather of Alternative Rock, Tyson Meade, has influenced everyone from Nirvana to Smashing Pumpkins. Much like his friend and neighbor, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, Meade’s life is the stuff of legends. Iggy Pop once told him to be good. Billy Corgan has frequently praised his brilliant and unique song-crafting gifts. Pop Matters refers to him as a rock god! And his multi-octave voice has no equal.
In the 80’s, Meade fronted the American cult-band, Defenestration. Having been weaned on B-movies, Janis Joplin, and the Birthday Party, and possessing a total disdain for the malaise of corporate rock that permeated that decade, Meade led his pioneering alternative rock outfit to influence a new generation of rockers, including Kurt Cobain. After two critically-acclaimed records, Defenestration went its separate ways.
Not to be outdone by his own mythological creation found in Defenestration, in the 90s, Meade formed Chainsaw Kittens—a name giving nod to his new band’s trashy-glam- punk guitar sound and the baby-faced teenagers that Meade had surrounded himself with. Debuting with a sound described by SPIN magazine as “& The Smiths meet the New York Dolls meet the devil,” Chainsaw Kittens were active from 1989 to 2000. During that time, the Kittens produced five full-length records, released several EPs, and scored songs on numerous movie soundtracks. Having toured with bands like Jane’s Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, Iggy Pop, and PIL, and having bands like Toadies and Weezer open for them, Chainsaw Kittens achieved legendary status in the alternative-rock movement—Butch Vig and John Agnello produced their records, Spike Jonze and Phil Harder directed their videos, and The Flaming Lips covered their songs. Vogue magazine recently wrote about how Ethan Emory’s character in Empire Records wore a Chainsaw Kittens t-shirt throughout the movie.
After more than two decades of leading the alternative rock craze, Meade left music to become a teacher. Teaching eventually brought Meade to Shanghai, China, where he taught English and then later ran a boarding school where he prepared Chinese students for American High Schools and Universities. While teaching, Meade encountered a student violinist who goes by the moniker Haffijy. Haffijy’s violin playing inspired Meade to write music again. The result of this reemergence was his stellar third solo album, Tomorrow in Progress. Tomorrow featured Haffijy, as well as a who’s-who from the American alternative rock scene, including members of Smashing Pumpkins, Verruca Salt, The Flaming Lips, Other Lives, and Alan Parson’s Project.
Meade is now working on his fourth solo record. In his latest endeavor, Meade has enlisted Chinese alt-rock heavyweights, PK14. As SPIN, Out, Brooklyn Vegan, Pop Matters, Converse, and AV Club have all proclaimed, Meade is indeed the Godfather of Alternative Rock!