Born in Havre, Montana, Ament’s father, a barber, was the mayor of Big Sandy, Montana, for fifteen years. His mother played piano and introduced Ament to records, books, and drawing. Ament dropped out of the University of Montana after his sophomore year in 1983, and, with his bandmates in Deranged Diction, moved to Seattle, where he worked at the infamous Raison d’Etre coffee shop in the Seattle neighborhood of Belltown to save money for art school tuition. Before long, that band had collapsed and he’d joined Green River with Stone Gossard. When that group split in 1987, he and Gossard started fresh in Mother Love Bone. The band was preparing to release its first album when lead singer Andrew Wood died of a drug overdose in March 1990.
What was your first instrument? When and where did you start playing?
I took piano lessons from first to sixth grade in Big Sandy, Montana, from Mrs. Giebel. I mowed her lawn, raked leaves, and shoveled snow to help with the cost. From fifth grade through my sophomore year in high school, I played snare drum and percussion in the school band and also sang in the choir. I forgot all of this when I heard the Ramones and bought the same bass that Dee Dee played.
What was the inspiration behind why you wanted to play music?
Initially, it was Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, and Kiss, until I heard the Ramones, Devo, the Clash, and all the hardcore bands in California. Playing music was an occupation furthest away from what I thought was possible.
What are some of the earliest/most influential concerts you attended?
My first show was Styx on their Equinox tour in 1975. They played Havre, Montana, at the NMC Armory. I didn’t see another concert until I saw Van Halen in Great Falls in 1979. The most influential shows that I saw early on were X, the Clash, and the Who on my first visit to Seattle with some friends in 1982. I moved to Seattle the next year, and seeing Black Flag, the Ramones, Bad Brains, and a slew of hardcore bands at the Metropolis had the biggest influence on my musical life.
What are some of the best memories you have from playing early shows with your first bands?
Getting to play through a real PA was always a big thrill. Hüsker Dü giving us a joint and twenty dollars for opening up for them when the promoter screwed us. Mostly just trying to impress your friends. Hell, that’s still how it is.