Why would you resurrect one of the best loved and dearly missed indie rock bands? The cynical would say a cash grab, but not every reunion is The Pixies. Formed in 1991 and broken up before the start of 1998, Archers of Loaf had the distinction of one the bands from the then burgeoning Chapel Hill scene, alongside contemporaries like Superchunk and, of course, Merge Records. The single, “Web in Front,” (how this writer discovered the band) has had enough of a lasting effect to be named one of the top 500 songs by Pitchfork. So, if the band hasn’t played together for 14 years or so and you’ve all moved on with your lives and into other projects, why reform?
According to frontman Eric Bachman, because playing loud rock and roll music is a lot of fun.
“The whole way this came about,” says Bachman, “is our former manager, who’s a lawyer now, had the idea we should re-issue our albums.” The recently available reissues on Merge Records of both Icky Mettle and Vee Vee (with the other two studio albums to follow by August 2) feature the original albums along with scores of b-sides and bonus tracks. “We are very fortunate to have a friendship with Merge Records,” states Bachmann. “This never would have happened without them. Our former label, Alias, aren’t quite as business oriented as Merge, they have a webpage and that’s kinda it. Whereas Merge is very supportive and proactive.” Of course, having Bachman’s other band, Crooked Fingers, on the label probably doesn’t hurt either.
On that note, while he doesn’t disparage his work with Crooked Fingers, Bachman joyously notes that “it’s a lot of goddamn fun to play this loud rock music again.” The songs go over “just as well as they’ve always had with the crowd. We have lots of people who have followed the band, and then we have some folks that just discovered the band, as well as people have come over as Crooked Fingers fans. But, then again, some of the Crooked Fingers fans find this band too loud for their tastes.” Those delicate flowers that wilt when exposed to volume aside, Archers of Loaf are enjoying a renaissance on par with their popularity back in the day.
Throughout the years, the Archers of Loaf have developed a unique approach to touring. Since all the members live in different parts of the US, they fly, while Bachman has his own means. “I drive to every show, man,” he with a slight chuckle, especially considering he’s driving from Athens, Georgia to Calgary. “I drove to California for our San Francisco shows and basically lived in California for a month due to the tour dates. I drove to Toronto, I drive everywhere.” For the curious, he will be driving 3119 kms to get to Sled Island. When asked if it’s due to a fear of flying, Bachman’s response is quick: “Naw. I’m 6’6″ and all those plane seats are just too damn small.”
When any band reunites, the obligatory question comes about recording a new album. These can either be a perfect addition to or be a forgettable footnote in the canon. “We aren’t putting out a new album,” states Bachman. “All of the songs’ lyrics came from me. The guys in the band would form the structure of the song but the lyrics are me. And they ain’t coming. I don’t know if it’s because I have a much busier life now than I did then or what. But I’m not going to force it to happen.”
Archers of Loaf play Republik on June 23.
by Spencer Brown