By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Archers of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann is grateful that his caterwauling noise-pop is considered some of the '90s' most important indie rock. But he just doesn't see it.
"I don't think of myself as an elder statesman," says Bachmann, whose storied outfit reunited last year. "I wish I did. I wish that I could be like . . . Kanye West."
He might be joking in his own way, but he is also famous for not bullshitting. The topic of record sales isn't off-limits ("If I say they've sold tens of thousands, it would be exactly ten of thousands"); he won't kid you about Archers' recently unearthed bonus material ("I don't think you need to hear stuff that I think is horrible"). He's the first to tell you not to take his lyrics too seriously. And he doesn't deny that only having to tour on weekends is the secret to the reunion's success, a luxury that non-elder-statesmen bands generally can't afford.
If he has one thing in common with Yeezy, it's a serious work ethic: 13 full-lengths in 17 years with four different acts is staggering. And that's not counting three EPs, the film score, Archers' live and B-sides compilations, or, for that matter, the series of four expanded reissues that finally ends this summer with All the Nations Airports and White Trash Heroes (the title tune beat Kid A to jittery-skittery electronics by two years). Yet Bachmann prefers not to stop and dwell on his past achievements.
"I think you have to be careful because there is a window, and you have to navigate it properly," he says. "I don't want to be touring only songs from our back catalog all next year and the year after that. You're speaking to me at a time when [the band has] to meet and talk through what we're doing. We don't know what we're doing." And in case that's too vague for wishful fans to bear: "To clarify, I very much would like to do a new [Archers] record. And I think the band would like to do a new record. I have ideas—I'm always working on stuff—but I haven't sat down. I've been too busy traveling."
You'd never know from the way he talks that the band's last album came out in 1998, or that 2011 was only his first year juggling Archers and his elegiac indie-folk project Crooked Fingers simultaneously: "I do think they're different enough that people who want to hear 'Audiowhore' generally don't want to hear 'Man o' War,'" he says, laughing.
"That's kind of why I want to keep making Archers records and Crooked Fingers records, so I can do both," he says. "Satisfy both sides of me, but it's a tough thing to navigate. It's been easier than you think. But it's been logistically busy. . . . I've been booking hotels for Crooked Fingers and doing accounting for the Archers. So it's just a lot of other side work involved."
When asked if old lyrics like "The underground is overcrowded" have taken on new resonance in an age so replete with "indie rock" that some of it even boils over the top of the charts, he waves the comparison away.
"For me, I've sort of pulled back and don't really . . . view anything that seriously? I am very aware pretty much all rock-and-roll music is dated, and we're no exception," he says. "So I don't feel connected like I did back when I was 25; I feel a little disconnected, and I think that's why I can do it. I think that's why I'm able to play and feel the response the crowd is giving. It's rewarding to have people smiling. I'm still angry and shitty and mean, but I don't express it through those lyrics anymore. There might be some truth in it, maybe, but I don't give a shit."
Archers of Loaf headline the 4Knots Music Festival on Saturday, July 14.