Mark Arm first entered the Seattle rock scene in 1980, when he formed a band, while attending Bellevue Christian High School, called "Mr. Epp and the Calculations" with singer Jo Smitty. The band played its first show in 1981, opening for the band Student Nurse. In 1982 they released a 7" EP entitled "Mohawk Man", produced by Johnny Rubato (of Rubato Records, a local used record shop for more than 30 years). The next year they added a second guitarist, Steve Turner, and released a cassette of both studio and live material. They also played with Ten Minute Warning and the Dead Kennedys at the Eagles Auditorium in April. Mr. Epp and the Calculations came to an end the following year.
After Mr. Epp and the Calculations ended, Mark Arm and Steve Turner (who had become close friends) joined the band Limp Richerds for a few weeks. Afterward, Arm and Turner took on future Pearl Jam members Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, as well as Alex Vincent, to form the band Green River. Green River released two EPs and a full length album before disbanding. Steve Turner left the band to finish college, and Arm was forced to find a new band again. After Turner returned from schooling, they resumed their Green River side project, The Thrown Ups.
Arm and Turner took on drummer Dan Peters, and bassist Matt Lukin, formerly of Melvins. The new band renamed themselves Mudhoney. In 1988, Sub Pop released Mudhoney's first single, "Touch Me I'm Sick". After extensive touring and an EP album, Mudhoney released their eponymous full length debut in 1989. Their next album, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge came out soon after, just before the explosion of grunge spearheaded by Nirvana's seminal Nevermind. At the time, Sub Pop, their record label, was "on the verge of bankruptcy, having trouble paying its flagship band, severely delaying the release of the album to July 1991." In 1992, they signed to a major record label, Reprise and released Piece of Cake. The album did not sell well, due to a combination of the band's uncompromising sound and an oversaturation of the genre; according to Stephen Turner, the album references "how easily things had come to them...the songs were kinda half-baked... and Mark wasn't at his best."
Although they never achieved the fame of some of their contemporaries, Arm and Mudhoney have made significant contributions to grunge music. Mudhoney is one of the few grunge bands that continue to release albums; in 2002 they released Since We've Become Translucent, The Lucky Ones in May 2008 on the Sub Pop label, and Vanishing Point, their latest release, in April 2013 on the Sub Pop label again.
Arm released "The Freewheelin' Mark Arm", a solo single in 1990.
He was a singer and guitarist for the group Bloodloss and singer for the Seattle supergroup The Monkeywrench. Monkeywrench members include Arm, Turner, Tim Kerr (Lord Hi Fixers, Big Boys, Poison 13), Tom Price (Gas Huffer) and Martin Bland (Bloodloss). He has also made guest appearances on several albums, most notably on Alice in Chains' 1992 EP Sap.
In 1998, he made an appearance on the motion picture soundtrack for the film Velvet Goldmine with Ron Asheton, Mike Watt, Thurston Moore, and Steve Shelley under the name Wylde Ratttz.
In 1999, he recorded the vocals for the song "I Need Somebody", a cover of the song by The Stooges, featured on Nebula's first album, To the Center.
In 2000, Arm, Turner, Peters, Scott McCaughey, Tom Price and Bill Henderson recorded the album "The New Original Sonic Sound" under the band name The New Strychnines. they recorded a compilation of 16 songs by the legendary mid-60's Seattle garage band The Sonics. The album was released by Book Records.
In 2004, he toured with MC5, standing in for the late Rob Tyner on vocals.
In 2013, he contributed vocals on The Scientists' cover version of "Set It on Fire" from Melvins' album Everybody Loves Sausages.
When grunge exploded in the early '90s, Arm wrote a comedic nonfiction essay about smoking pot and going to the Clinton White House with Pearl Jam.
In 2008, he told the Washington Post's Express, "I don't smoke pot all that much. I did get stoned last night, though [laughs] – after the show. I'm not opposed smoking pot or to people smoking pot. Every now and again I smoke a joint, but I don't get stoned and come up with creative ideas. I usually get paralyzed on the couch."
According to a recent article in magazine, MOJO, Mark Arm started using heroin in 1987 and by the summer of 1989, "...it had all caught up with me.". Apparently, the band had little patience for his addiction, so he would "use heroin when Mudhoney were off the road, then stop as they prepared to leave. 'So I was real used to quitting,' Arm says. 'You go through these flu-like symptoms for a couple of days, then you think about it for months.'" Arm hit his nadir on New Year's Eve 1992 when he overdosed for the fourth time. He stopped using heroin in 1993 upon becoming involved with Emily Rieman, now his wife.