Bombshelter Videos was a music video show that ran from 1987 to 1992 and featured "alternative bands on independent labels." This series was hosted by Frank Harlan (a.k.a. Bill Bored) who formed No-Budget Production to produce the show. The series was unique in that it bought infomercial time rather than being produced like a typical television show and in some aspect it could be viewed as an infomercial for alternative music and bands. The show focused on bands that were little known at the time and were not marketable enough to be featured on MTV. Bombshelter Videos provided exposure that helped many of the bands achieve mainstream success, such as Soundgarden, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, that defined the Seattle sound and would later be known across the United States as grunge.
Bombshelter Videos was a half-hour long music video show and aired late night on small independent TV channels in the Puget Sound area of Washibgton state. The show was dedicated to showing independent bands on indy labels from all music genres including alternative, disco, rap, punk, ska, heavy metal, rockabilly as well as spoken pieces and short films. The show catered mostly to the punk and skateboarding scenes.
Frank Harlan formed the video production company, No-Budget Production, in order to create the show. His production company produced the show as well as the commercials that aired during the show. No-Budget Production also created music videos for several of the bands that appeared on the show. Harlan's alter ego, Bill Bored, hosted the show and would open it with the same line, "Hello and welcome to Bombshelter Videos. My name is Bill Bored and I'm your host for a half an hour of UndergroundGarageBandArtThrashNoiseMusic."
To open the show during the first season, Harlan would played a newscaster, William Raydundent, with breaking news that "Bombshelter Videos is now on the air". Early on, the series relied on music videos distributed by Vusic Express, a service that sent videos free to night clubs. videos and skateboard culture
The beginnings of the show started in the punk scene of Anchorage, Alaska when, in 1983, the band members of Clyng-Onz decided they needed to make a music video. Harlan started WARNING fanzine with his then girlfriend Jane Doe. They published the magazine under their pseudonyms Bill Bored and Poly Vinyl and documented the music, art and politics in Alaska. WARNING became influential and soon it was being sent to Seattle and Seattle zines were being sent to Alaska. they were bringing bands from the lower 48 states to Alaska for music festivals. Bombshelter Videos actually started off as an offshoot of Warning fanzine, an Alaskan zine that helped promote independent bands in Anchorage Alaska. frank Harlan stated Bombshelter Videos as a music video show on public access channel, Catch 22, in anchorage.
Format and segments
The beginning of the show typically featured a local band that would come on the station and alert the viewer to "stay tuned for Bombshelter Videos, next on this station." Then there would be a commercial break. The introduction for the original series had Harlan in a wig and mustache, dressed as a newscaster from No-Budget News named William Raydundent, with a special news bulletin that "Bombshelter Videos is now on the air." The name was an in joke and came from William being the proper name for Bill and Raydundent being similar to redundant meaning this was another version of Bill Bored, the host. The show then broke in to the theme music Bombshelter by Naked Raygun. The host would then enter the set, climbing down a ladder and saying, "Hello and welcome to Bombshelter Videos. My name is Bill Bored and I'm your host for a half an hour of UndergroundGarageBandArtThrashNoiseMusic." The original series had three main segments, featured LP, music videos and record previews. The show would generally have five music videos and start with the featured LP segment. It would then show a video then go to the record preview segment and then a second video before going to the first set of commercials. The middleof the show would typically have the host introduce the next video, show the video then introduce the upcoming videos before going to the second commercial break. The last part of the show was usually the last two videos then host would close out the show, usually encouraging people to see a local concert or buy local music. The very end would have the host climbing up a ladder as if he were leaving an underground shelter. The featured LP segment did a quick review of an album each week and music from that featured LP was used as the background music for all the VJ breaks, the credit roll and during other parts of the show when the host was on air. The music video segment was the main part of the show and consisted of videos of "alternative bands on independent labels." The record previews segment had the host reviewing records, showing vinyl LP covers of the records on a black background, describing the band, album title, some of the songs, the record label and the city and state of the record label. Usually a disembodied hand would come from off screen and switch the records as each new LP was introduced.
The show changed its format a little after switching from KSTW to KTZZ. Having bands say"stay tuned" was gone and the William Raydundent character was also gone. In its place was an introduction by the host saying "Tonight on Bombshelter Videos" then a series of very short clips from the upcoming videos was shown while the "we're gonna have a TV party tonight" line was played from the song TV Party by Black Flag. The host's opening was also changed to include that this was the second generation of the show. "Hello and welcome to Bombshelter Videos, the second generation. My name is Bill Bored and I'm your host for a half an hour of UndergroundGarageBandArtThrashNoiseMusic." The host would usually show the peace sign with his hand while saying, "the second generation." The rest of the show was similar in format to the original.
The record previews segment was dropped during series "B" and series "C" to allow 6 videos to be shown instead of the 5 that were shown during the original series.
The show was produced in three series, the first being the original series that was broadcast on KSTW. Series "B" and "C" were broadcast on KTZZ when the show switched stations in 1989.
Northwest Rock and other spin offs
The show produced a couple of spin offs with the major one being Northwest Rock. Northwest Rock fully embraced the underground music scene of the Pacific Northwest with its motto of "Northwest videos hosted by Northwest bands on Northwest locations". Many of the bands that hosted the show would later go on to major success including Sir Mix-a-lot, Sky Cries Mary and Mudhoney. Another spin off was a children's show that Harlan hosted that ran on Saturday mornings on KTZZ called (fill in the blank).
Connections with Northwest icons
Many Northwest icons had connections to Bombshelter Videos. Harlan, as Bill Bored, hosted a number of free concerts at the Space Needle and Seattle Center during yearly events such as Bumbershoot and the bite of Seattle. JP Patches and Gertrude, icons of the Pacific Northwest since the 1950's, bought commercial time on the show and even hosted an episode of Northwest Rock. Tracey Conway, from Almost Live! did a program ID for the show and John Keister and most of the Almost Live! comedy troop were featured in the Inhale Einstein video from the Acoustinauts. All of the episodes of the Bombshelter Videos and Northwest Rock, as well as the videos from the Alaskan version of the show, were donated to the Experience Music Project owned by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen.
DIY ethic The show was a focal point for many music related businesses in the pacific northwest including night clubs, record stores, printers that printed telephone pole flyers for bands, record labels like sub pop and coffee houses that were popular before tarbucks.
Bombshelter Videos won several awards during its five year run including the TV Show category at the 1992 Northwest Music Awards hosted at the Paramount Theatre. Organizers coordinated the awards show with the 1992 NAMA Music Business Conference, which was held at the Washington State Trade & Convention Center. The conference and awards show allowed musicians and record industry insiders to intermingle during the period that grunge was sweeping the nation.
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- Macdonald, Patrick (March 23, 1992). "Nirvana Wins Five Awards At Music Fete". The Seattle Times (Seattle, Washington: Frank A. Blethen). ISSN 0745-9696. OCLC 9198928. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19920323&slug=1482554. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
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- BombshelterVideos.com— The Official Bombshelter Videos website