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August 09, 1995 - Image 13

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1995-08-09

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Shudder to Think about success

y Ella do Loon
aily Arts Writer
Stream of consciousness. Ran-
m thoughts that translate into song
rics. From its conception, that's
ow Washington, D.C. band Shud-
er to Think has operated.
"We got our name from our first
rummer, Mike Russell," explained
ad singer and guitarist Craig
edren. "He said, 'I shudder to
ink that such-and-such a song
e're writing is going to be just an-
ther boom-pa, boom-ba hardcore
'eng.' So we were like, OK, that's
11 right, and then we woke up and it
sas too late to change it."
A long and varied history fol-
ows. Formed in 1986 with Wedren
n guitar and lead vocals, bassist
stuart Hill, guitarist Chris
tatthews, and Russell, Shudder to
lhink started out small, but armed
sith a biting, dark, dynamic sound.
Nedren related, "Our first record
dually was put out by a sister label
Dischord, which is called
Sammich Records, and that was run
by Amanda Mackaye, Ian's sister -
an who runs Dischord Records and

who is in Fugazi. They put out our
record, I guess Ian dug it, started
coming to our shows, and eventually
we fell into each other's arms."
Wedren and company then put out
three successful albums in their two
years on Dischord. After 1992's "Get
Your Goat," big changes.occurred.
Exit Matthews and Russell. Enter six-
string player Nathan Larson and beat
keeper Adam Wade, formerly of
Jawbox. Together with Wedren and
Hill, the new lineup produced the "Hit
Liquor"/ "No Room 9, Kentucky" 7-
inch. Next came the cut "Animal
Wild" on the 1993 "Sweet Relief"
compilation. Soon, STT (an acronym
used sparingly) began to receive more
attention, not to mention offers from
the big labels. They finally decided on
Epic Records in 1994. The band had an
ideal relationship and were enjoying
success with Dischord. Why the
Wedren revealed that it was "just
time to raise the ceiling in terms of the
number of people we could reach po-
tentially, and we wanted to do this full
time for a living. That (music as a full-
time occupation) was really hard on

Dischord. We all had to have other
jobs, and it was very hand-to-mouth.
And also we were starting to move out
of D.C. I went to college in New York,
and we were becoming an Eastern sea-
board band rather than a D.C. band."
With Epic, Shudder to Think has
made the EP "Hit Liquor" and their
major label debut, "Pony Express
Record." Matters have only improved.
Wedren reflected, "I think our albums
have gotten more comfortable, more
and more varied and more and more
interesting. 'Pony Express Record' has
this polar effect to it. When it's pop
and hooky and catchy and rocking, it's
the most that we've ever been. But
then it almost immediately gives way
to the most extreme, left, experimental
or unusual music that we've ever writ-
ten. I think there's a lot more dynamics
than there used to be."
In terms of major vs. independent
label, Wedren found, "There's a lot
more business, a lot more bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy is, obviously, not the
greatest thing in the world, but the
business is really fun. I think we
kind of embrace that. Other than
that, it's pretty much what you ex-

Getting to the heart of the matter,
Wedren continued, "The politics are
different. Dischord is a staunchly inde-
pendent label, and Epic is a staunchly
corporate label. But the people we
work with are all really passionate
about music and our music, so it's ul-
timately not that different except at a
fundamental, philosophical level."
And what about Shudder To
Think's philosophy'? "To keep mak-

K hits the spot: The Blank Generation goes acoustic at St. Andrew's

ing music as long as what we're do-
ing feels vital and fresh to us." stated
Sounds like a foolproof plan.
e on cs n c o et N

y Heather Pharos
aily Arts Editor
X's show at St. Andrew's Hall last
ednesday proved that some good things
on't necessarily have to come to an end.
For while X, one of the few remaining
punk bands from the LA scene in the late
'70s- early '80s scene (which included
such bands as the Germs and Black Flag),
is not a new band, their onstage energy is
still as vital as when they put out their de-
but album "Los Angeles."
The band's show at the Blind Pig in
1994 saw the band revisit many of their
ssic songs like "We're Desperate" and
e Hungry Wolf." X raised the roof and
showed punks young and old that they
were still a viable act in the '90s, every bit
as loud and fierce as they were at the start.
Which is why Wednesday's show was
another reminder that X is in fact still vi-
able: This time around, the veteran punk

St. Andrew's Hall
August 2, 1995
band is touring acoustically, promoting
their new album"Unclogged," released on
their own Infidelity label.
Playing unplugged versions of some
of their greatest songs, such as "White
Girl," "More Fun in the New World"
and "The Have Nots," X's country and
folk roots came to the forefront. Exene
Cervenka and John Doe's harmonies
were as clear and pristine as ever. And
since the emphasis was off of rock noise,
their vocals took the spotlight for the
Though X are a consistently great

live band, and this performance was no
exception, there were some in the audi-
ence that were underwhelmed with the
acoustic format. Most of these were
younger fans who have probably heard
about X as "seminal punk legends" and
came expecting to pogo. Amusingly, the
devoted throng pressed against the stage
showed more than a little grey in their

hair and wore businesslike attire, while
many of the kids hung around the back
and the lobby of the club.
So X continue to entertain and move
their fans, regardless of the way they
play their music. And while the hour-
long show was a good thing that ended
much too soon, X is a good thing that en-

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