Kurt Cobain wrote in his journals that a Portland trio called the Wipers helped him conjure Nirvana, the alternative-rock trio that changed the mind of radio tastemakers with the release in 1991 of Nevermind. Other early-’90s Northwest trailblazers such as Mudhoney and the Melvins have also cited the proto-punk band as an inspiration.
Brad Davidson, 48, played bass in the Wipers from 1981 to ’89 and appeared on five Wipers albums. He now works as a machinist in El Cajon. For the past three years he’s been navigating his next turn in rock as the frontman/bassist for a “sci-fi, ’50s, black-and-white” band called Phantom Ratio.
The band just released its first CD, Bring Us Your Young. With no agent, the local trio was tapped to open three upcoming Jesus and Mary Chain shows, at the Fillmore in San Francisco (June 14), at the House of Blues in Las Vegas (June 16), and at the San Diego House of Blues on June 17.
These plum gigs apparently are due to Davidson’s one-year stint as a “hired-hand” bassist with the Jesus and Mary Chain in 1992, when Davidson lived in England. He played Lollapalooza with JAMC. But, Davidson says he wasn’t right back then. “I never settled down. I probably partied a little too hard.”
He was not an official Mary Chain partner. “They paid me musician-union wages. I got paid on a scale.” He says the hourly rate differed if he was in band practice or on tour. “I had to keep track of the hours.”
JAMC founders, brothers Jim and William Reid, apparently were fond enough of their ex-bassist to invite him and his new band to go on tour even though Davidson admits he was not a perfect bandmate 20 years ago.
“I was told by a tour manager that [the Reid brothers] said I was the best bassist they ever had. That put my lack of discipline into overdrive.” Davidson says that rock-star bravado increased his partying to his detriment. “My contract was not renewed.”
Davidson said he stayed in the U.K. for a while. “I had just got off a [JAMC] tour and I thought I was God’s gift, yet I had to get a day job. I didn’t handle it very well. I wanted to keep the party going, but nobody else was on my wavelength.”
Davidson eventually cleaned up, migrated to San Diego, and hooked up with attorney and former Night Soil Man guitarist (1987–’90) Eric Stene and drummer Scott Taylor, who MCs skate demonstrations for Tony Hawk.