Ian Mackaye: “It turns out, as I found out later on, people in Louisville are just fucking crazy”
Feat. Steve Albini, David Yow, Matt Sweeney, Corey “Touch & Go” Rusk, Jon and Jason of Rodan, David Grubbs, James Murphy.
So many of my music heroes in one place. This made me rethink my resolve to watch fewer rock docs. Mostly they’re the same old thing, but when they’re good, when they can recontextualize the music, illustrate it in new ways, or give amazing backstory where you see rehearsal footage of Spiderland coming together, listen to Tweez engineer Albini discuss how Spiderland’s straightforward production by Brian Paulson became his ideal, and you think how that’s the style Albini’s mostly known for these days, and the same week you watch the doc the new Shellac album Dude Incredible comes out and you’re listening to it (on vinyl of course) and thinking does it sound this way because of Spiderland? Does everything sound the way it does because of Spiderland? And you go on a drive and play June of 44’s Sharks & Sailors and think it sounds like a sequel to Spiderland, and maybe everything is a sequel to Spiderland. When The For Carnation toured on their self-titled album and were mostly ignored by the ignorant, talky crowd, I guess that was the low point of the post-Slint wave, but with the doc and reunion shows, it seems like it’s coming around again.
I knew I’d seen interviewee Brett Eugene Ralph’s name before – he wrote The Whole of the Law, which Catherine Irwin covers.
Britt (drummer) and Brian are the stars of the show (sorry Pajo, love ya). It’s claimed that Britt does half the vocals on Spiderland, but Brian does Good Morning Captain and Washer, so which parts are we talking about?
Many things are claimed. The Lizard/Albini/Britt house-sitting Mouthbreather story is hilariously repeated. Britt won’t comment on the legendary “anal breathing tapes” and whether they make an appearance on Tweez, but Bangs seems to have one of the tapes.
An expanded Louisville Family Tree is needed. Ned Oldham was in Britt & Brian’s first band Languid & Flaccid. Then Brian formed Maurice (which opened for Glenn Danzig’s Samhain on tour) and Britt drummed for Squirrel Bait (that’s him on the cover art, right?). Pajo joined Maurice (“it’s like Slint but fast”) and recruited his best friend Ethan into Slint when Maurice broke up. Songs were titled for band members’ parents and pets and the band’s first show was during service at a church. That’s Will Oldham in a crash helmet in the Tweez cover car’s driver’s seat.
Todd Brashear joined from hardcore band Solution Unknown after Ethan quit over Albini’s oddball production of Tweez. Britt and Brian went off to Northwestern. In Spring 1989 Albini recorded the Glenn/Rhoda EP, calling the band last-minute with some extra studio time, went unreleased until 1994. Slint played Dreamerz with Matt Sweeney’s high school band. Producer Brian Paulson was picked after Brian watched him recording Bastro’s Sing The Troubled Beast. Spiderland was extensively worked out over a summer between semesters, I think, and Brian quit immediately after the recording. All four members backed Oldham on the early Palace recordings, and Slint reunited for practices in ’92 and ’94 but nothing came of them. Most surprisingly (besides the fact that the band members were about 20 when Slint broke up) it’s claimed that Britt “has everything to do with” the way The Breeders’ Pod and Safari EP sound. He showed up everywhere, including on Sally Timms records, and has a new group called Watter.