Remaking the Band


Band reunions—who cares, right? They’re just a bunch of has-beens cashing in on their fans’ nostalgia trips. Everybody’s old and leathery now, and your favorite song is guar-anteed not to sound as good as it did on the ra-dio in your parents’ car when you were necking with your high school sweetheart in the backseat. But you go to the concert anyway, you buy the souvenir T-shirt, and then you go home, look in the mirror, and check for gray hairs while pondering your mortality.

For those in search of that sort of experience, the coming months offer a plethora of opportunities. The original lineup of hair-metal gods Mötley Crüe (Madison Square Garden, March 3) is back after six years, hawking a new greatest-hits collection, Red, White & Crüe. Bloozey Southern boogie kings the Black Crowes, absent since 2001, spare us the solo projects for seven nights at the Hammerstein Ballroom (March 22-30). Duran Duran (Madison Square Garden, April 13) have also returned, eager to show all those trendy synthpop young’uns like the Killers and the Bravery who’s boss. And if the Eagles (MSG, April 11) keep it up, their reunion will be longer than the band’s initial 11-year life span.

Indie rockers like to think that their sub-culture is immune to such bloated mainstream excesses as the unnecessary band reunion. So far, they’ve been lucky. College radio favorites Mission of Burma, the Pixies, and Camper Van Beethoven have successfully navigated the treacherous waters between newfound vitality and selling out over the past few years. This spring, post-rock pioneers Slint join the fray (they play Irving Plaza March 17-19). Formed in Louisville, Kentucky, in the late ’80s, the group recorded two breathtaking albums, 1989’s Tweez and 1991’s Spiderland, before imploding. Its members would go on to Tortoise, King Kong, Palace, the For Carnation, the Breeders, and Zwan, while Slint’s legend spread among the underground. Their sonic blueprint—cinematic, primarily instrumental epics shot through with the dramatic rising-and-falling action of the classic hero’s journey—can be heard in bands like Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Explosions in the Sky.

An invitation to curate and headline the British rock festival All Tomorrow’s Parties lured guitarist-vocalist Brian McMahan, drummer Britt Walford, and guitarist David Pajo back into the fold, and plans for an American tour ensued. Slint are adamant that this tour is a one-time deal. “It’s not gonna be like Kiss breaking up and getting back together con-stantly,” Pajo says, on the phone from Chicago. “Everybody has spent the last 15 years trying to develop their own lives, so you can press pause but you can’t hit stop. I think Brian even said, when we were first discussing it, ‘Man, I haven’t touched a guitar in a long time. I think I’ll probably just sell my guitar after this tour.’ ”

When asked about the motivations behind the reunion, Pajo responds, “It’s a way to have some closure with the band, you know? If there’s ever a time for the band to get back together, it’s now when we’re not all withered and depressing. It was great to all get together again because we’re still the same people and if anything we have a better dynamic than we used to have.” Super-fans will be happy to learn that the members of Slint are going out of their way to recreate their vintage sound. “We’ve been trying to buy all our old equipment back,” Pajo says. “It’s funny. I had the shittiest equipment, like bad ’80s music gear. Like, tube amplifiers are really popular now but I only used solid state. I used to use these weird picks.”

Pajo takes a deep breath. “We want so bad to do it right. We want to reach the potential that the band has always had.”