By the early 1990s its popularity had spread, with grunge bands appearing in California, then emerging in other parts of the United States and in Australia, building strong followings and signing major record deals.
Other key pedals used by grunge bands included four brands of distortion pedals (the Big Muff, DOD and BOSS DS-2 and BOSS DS-1 distortion pedals) and the Small Clone chorus effect, used by Kurt Cobain on "Come As You Are" and by the Screaming Trees on "Nearly Lost You".He stated that while Nirvana drew on punk, Pearl Jam was influenced by classic rock and "sludgy, dark, heavy bands" such as Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Tad had a sinister metal tone.Grunge music has what has been called an "ugly" aesthetic, both in the roar of the distorted electric guitars and in the darker lyrical topics.Arm first used the term in 1981, when he wrote a letter under his given name Mark Mc Laughlin to the Seattle zine Desperate Times, criticizing his own band Mr. Grunge was also called the "Seattle sound" or referred to as the "Seattle scene", the latter a reference to the active music subculture in that city centred around the independent label Sub Pop, the "strong alternative scene", the University of Washington, and the Evergreen State College.Seattle musician Jeff Stetson states that when he visited Seattle in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a touring musician, the local musicians did not refer to themselves as "grunge" performers or their style as "grunge" and they were not flattered that their music was being called "grunge".Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, labeled by Time as "the John Lennon of the swinging Northwest", appeared unusually tortured by success and struggled with an addiction to heroin before he died by suicide at the age of 27 in 1994.The word "grunge" was used in print prior to the use of the term in mainstream publications, to refer to the Seattle music genre. Clark Humphrey, contributor to Desperate Times, cites this as the earliest use of the term to refer to a Seattle band, and mentions that Bruce Pavitt of Sub Pop popularized the term as a musical label in 1987–88, using it on several occasions to describe Green River.The success of these bands boosted the popularity of alternative rock and made grunge the most popular form of rock music at the time.Grunge was also an influence on later genres such as post-grunge (e.g.: Creed and Nickelback) and nu metal (e.g.: Korn and Limp Bizkit).Grunge fuses elements of punk rock and heavy metal, such as the distorted electric guitar used in both genres, although some bands performed with more emphasis on one or the other.Like these genres, grunge typically uses electric guitar, bass guitar, a drummer and a singer.