Going into 1985, Pacific Northwest all-age venues were almost non-existent and only a handful of clubs booked original rock. As soon as one club opened, another met its untimely demise. A teen dance ordinance and a gig postering ban loomed large on the political horizon and the local music scene was pretty much given up for dead.
But hidden away in garages and basements, groups practiced their original songs. Geographically isolated and unconstrained by any conformity of success, a rock group was free to develop on its own terms. And sometimes if a band broke enough guitar strings, drum sticks and rules along the way, they managed to step past their influences and to find their own individual sound.
This is the sound of Variant Cause.
WHAT CRITICS SAID ABOUT EXCAVATING VOLUME 1
"By 1986, hard rock in Seattle -- at least the stuff getting noticed elsewhere -- was starting to sludge like Flipper crossed with the Birthday Party (or maybe Black Sabbath crossed with Led Zeppelin in bands' dreams), and that's not where Variant Cause were at either . . . Their just-compiled album rocks some dark-and-spooky carnival-goth slime, some psychobilly goo-goo muck, some proto-techno jungle drums . . . and a great song called "She's A Moving Violation" that dedicates surf guitar explosions and metal screeches and trippy garage organs to someone's backfield in motion. And it all has a goofball bounce to it that would have scared most grungesters back to their heroin dens."
--- Chuck Eddy, Paper Thin Walls Sept 2006
" . . my first impression was dead wrong. Definitely not hard rock or grunge, "Excavating: Volume I" is instead a collection of eccentric rockers, ranging from throbbing, dance rhythm songs not unlike David Bowie's later material to hip alternative rockers that bring to mind bands like King Crimson, Blue Oyster Cult and Devo (yes, I said Devo).
It's a fun and fascinating ride, with the band showcasing original songwriting and admirable musicianship while the production sounds fresh and near perfect."
--- R. Scott Bolton, RoughEdge.com Jan 2008
“Tunes like "She's a Moving Violation," "Right Now She's Not" and "Life in the Wind" sound like the love children of Thin Lizzy and Devo; shockingly, it for the most part works.
Part of it's due to Jan Gregor's appealing voice, but most of it is due to the group's unerring accuracy with hooks.”
--- Michael Toland, High Bias Dec 2006
"While the CD sleeve is quick to remind you that these forgotten oddballs once stalked the same stages as Green River, Soundgarden, and The Melvins, Variant Cause are way more interesting than just another second-rate grunge band. In fact, if anything, the songs collected here suggest that there was a lot more to the Seattle scene in the early 90's than we ever suspected. There are some loud guitars on Excavating, but there are also funk basslines, metronomic Devo beats, Oingo Boingo keyboards, and a constant stream of nice hooks from lead singer Jan Gregor. This is amazingly cheerful music coming from a region where it rains pretty much all the time . . . Not a single song on the compilation sounds like it's repeating another, with touches like harmonica solos and terrifically elastic, original bass playing complementing the band's plus songwriting. I very much hope that there will be a Volume 2."
--- Mark T. R. Donohue, Westy Gets Mail #3 Nude as the News 2007
"1980s Pacific Northwest rock that combines New Wave, bar rock, blues, jazzy weirdness, artsy aspirations and skid row-low expectations. The opening track is called "Kamikaze Cabaret," and that may as well be this band's genre. I love to hear reissues that don't fit into those categories for which countless reissues exist. Or any category for that matter."
--- Roctober Magazine Fall 2006
"This band was part of the late-80s Pacific Northwest music scene, rubbing shoulders with many flannel-clad faves of that era. As is often the case when a scene explodes, some worthy bands get lost in the shuffle, and Variant Cause can make a pretty compelling case that they belong with their better known brethren . . . Although this compilation showcases a driving post-punk style that shares a similarity to The Wipers, the band tried a few different things. For example, the blues harmonica breakdown in the middle of "Push Out Your Borders" wasn't exactly trendy back in the day (or now, for that matter). I also admire the Jon Lord-esque (as in the Deep Purple guy) organ on the desperate driving rocker "She's a Moving Violation". That song has a bit of Wipers-style urgency too, as do quite a few other numbers, including the cracking good “Kamikaze Cabaret”, which has blistering lead guitar work and a gigantic hook . . . This apparently is just the beginning, as the Cause has a lot of songs in storage. I look forward to hearing more."
--- Mike Bennet FUFKIN May 2007