In 1995, the Alternative/Modern Rock scene had become something corporate, as bands that led the way early in the decade found themselves under the constraints of the music industry. There was always a lot of angst to go along with the heavy guitars, but once it started selling, it was a completely different kind of misery: one that was feeding the machine.
Kurt Cobain, who killed himself in 1994, proved that this disconnect could have tragic consequences, but bands like Soul Asylum were already trapped in the cycle. The band was around for a decade before hitting it big with their 1992 album Grave Dancers Union
and the hit single "Runaway Train
." Their newfound success solved their financial problems, but caused many new ones, as they were now obligated to promote and perform at a relentless pace. Their fanbase became wider but more shallow, and they found themselves too often in the company of folks who were dependent on them for revenue. All this led to "Misery," the song lead singer Dave Pirner wrote to express his frustration.