In this week’s Voice, we looked at the history of Archers Of Loaf, the storied North Carolina indie outfit that recently got back together for a run of shows and reissues. Below, some quotes from Archers frontman Eric Bachmann that couldn’t fit into the Voice‘s print edition; members of Band of Horses, Les Savy Fav and the Hold Steady help restore the white trash heroes’ proper place in indie rock’s annals, too.
Ben Bridwell (singer/guitarist, Band of Horses): They were my Phish or my Dead at the time—I’ve seen Archers of Loaf more than any other band I’ve ever seen. I remember seeing them once when I was 19 and I did the fanboy thing. Waited by the buses and actually got to talk to Matt Gentling, and maybe Eric Johnson, and my sole goal of the evening was to try and get them stoned. So I waited, and they politely declined getting stoned with some random dude in a parking lot.
Eric Bachmann (singer/guitarist, Archers of Loaf): We didn’t know what we were doing and we didn’t expect success or know how to handle it. Looking back, we thought people were attacking us for asking about the name or something, when they were just interested! We were like, ‘fuck you, we’re just trying to do what we do’ and like, hey, they like you. Looking back we didn’t have to be hostile to people, we were just insecure and afraid of success, thought it might change us or whatever. You can look back and smile and laugh at it. I don’t mind people asking what the name is because it’s a ridiculous name. It’s so distinctive, and if you can celebrate within the knowledge of being ridiculous, it’s rewarding.
Bridwell: Right, the word “loaf,” huh? That part about it made you feel like it was yours. I think people gripped onto them even tighter than they maybe did Pavement. I mean, everybody liked Pavement. We were biased because we lived in the South, and we finally had our regional Pavement, our Sebadoh. Even though Archers weren’t from South Carolina, they had a song about South Carolina, so we were protective of them.
Craig Finn (singer/guitarist, The Hold Steady): I heard “Web in Front” for the first time on college radio in 1993 and bought the 7″ right after. I must have listened to it a thousand times in a row. I have not been so obsessed with a song before or since. It was no accident that the early [pre-Hold Steady band] Lifter Puller stuff sounded a lot like Archers. At the time we started that band, I was literally listening to nothing else.
Archers of Loaf, “All Hail The Black Market” (live in Chicago)
Tim Harrington (singer, Les Savy Fav): I am an owner of the “South Carolina” b/w “Wrong” seven-inch, that’s hand-colored in crayon. It has been begged of me by many people. No one’s allowed to have it.
Syd Butler (bassist, Les Savy Fav/owner, Frenchkiss Records): We’ve covered “Wrong” and four people in the audience would be like, ‘oh yeah, I love that song, awesome.’ And we’d look at each other like wow, arguably one of the greatest songs—and people just think we’re playing a new Les Savy Fav song.
Bridwell: Even if I had two other hands, I couldn’t count my favorite Archers songs on them. Getting prepared for this [interview] I just listened to “All Hail the Black Market” from the Greatest of All Time EP and that’s always been one of my favorite songs. I actually got to hear them play that the other night, I was surprised they pulled it out.
Bachmann: My favorite Archers thing is the EP. No doubt about it, that’s when we were at our best. Our second best record is Vee Vee. Then maybe Airports, then Icky, then White Trash Heroes, which has maybe four of the best things we did but was really unfocused. None of them are bad, I just wish we could’ve done all ten like those four. I don’t think it bothers me [that people consider Icky Mettle to be Archers’ best], I just think it’s profoundly inaccurate.
AFTER THE LAST LAUGH
Bachmann: I never met Thom Yorke, but we were playing at [Seattle music venue] the Crocodile in 1993 or 1994. Peter Buck owned it, and R.E.M. was there, recording or something, and I remember at the show not liking Radiohead. I was walking back to the bathroom and Yorke was coming out, but he was tiny and I was huge. And I kind of looked out the corner of my eye and muttered “jackass” and he was looking at me. Then a few years later he put out OK Computer and little did I know he was a fucking genius. [laughs]
Archers of Loaf, “White Trash Heroes”
Bridwell: There was something about Pavement that sucked people in. I’m not sure if it was the literary aspect, Stephen Malkmus’ lyrics being very hard to grasp what the story is. There was a lot tongue-in-cheek about it. With Archers, I don’t know if there was something that just didn’t grab those people, if it was just a little more atonal or discordant, that some of those people on the fringe just didn’t get or something.
Harrington: The guitar was a little too gnarly for people who wanted straightforward songs, but the songs were a little too straightforward for people who wanted gnarly guitar.
Bridwell: Could it also be chalked up in any way to the label aspect as well? I don’t know the ins and outs with Alias [Records], but it seems there was a bit of a lack of consistency with what was going on at that label. There’s so many things that come into play to make a band finally cross that threshold into being a household name. If the stars don’t align there’s a million things that can prevent you from getting there.
WHITE TRASH HEROES
Bridwell: When writing for our first album i was messing around with any instrument i could find and a delay pedal to make up for my lack of ability. I picked up the bass guitar and with the delay, basically ripped off the sound of “White Trash Heroes.” That song was completed and called “Our Swords” on our first album. Probably need to get some royalty checks out to those dudes!
Butler: I think of all my favorite bands ever, Archers of Loaf would have to be #2. Because we are the first. [laughs]
Bridwell: I swear I haven’t danced at a show since the last Archers of Loaf show I went to, and me and Creighton [Barrett], our drummer, fucking spazzed at the reunion gig, singing every word. It was like a kid at a Green Day concert. Our wives were terrified when we came out the showroom, just drenched.