First off, Eyes Adrift is not the new Nirvana. Singer Curt Kirkwood wants to get that out of the way before we get rolling.
Now, admittedly, we might've just lost half this article's readers. Folks are just so crazy nostalgic nowadays for the '90s that witnessing Nirvana's second-coming is second only to... well, the Second Coming.
Behold neo-'90s chic. Live! Tonight! In full flannel-wrapped Technicolor! Seriously, who thought '90s nostalgia would catch on this early? But it has, and because of that, Eyes Adrift will probably do pretty well.
Well, as Kirkwood pointed out, his band isn't the next Nirvanabe, but it does have a sound that wouldn't be out of place on Golden Age Grunge rock radio.
Also, besides the guitar-heavy '90s-flavored sound (think Buffalo Tom or Archers of Loaf) showcased on Eyes Adrift's self-titled debut on SpinART Records, there's the band's much-discussed pedigree: Kirkwood was a Meat Puppet and played on Nirvana's gut-wrenchingly raw MTV Unplugged in New York; bassist-singer Krist Novoselic was, of course, a founding member of Nirvana; and drummer Bud Gaugh kept the backbeat in Sublime before Brad Nowell went to the great bro-down in the sky. It's a supersonic '90s supergroup if there ever was one.
If you don't believe me, ask Kirkwood. He says a lot of people come to Eyes Adrift shows looking for a new Nirvana. But he insists there's no way his boys would be so dishonest to cash in on that.
“It would be embarrassing to try and rekindle something that... was,” says Kirkwood, a bit of weary grit in his voice. “These three people come from really special situations. It would just be gross.”
Indeed. Gross as say, releasing a dead singer's private journals for the glowing, needy public eye. But, overall, Kirkwood says, the audience has been more or less respectful of what the band is “trying to do.”
“A lot of them make it a point to say, ‘I really liked all your bands before, and I really like Eyes Adrift now,'” says Kirkwood. “They're not going to begrudge us the opportunity to start a new band just because we did good work before.”
Kirkwood chocks it all up to a word that meant something eight, 10 years ago, but now stinks like sour feet to any true music fan's ears-“alternative.”
“I think it's one of the cool things about the crowd that we attract-they have flexible minds,” says Kirkwood. “It's part of the alternative thing in its truest form.”
But no matter if the trio decides they want to play Klezmer or mariachi or roots reggae, the kids will still keep looking for “what was.” Rock music fans-almost by definition-are suckers for anything even remotely retro. (How else would you account for the popularity of The Vines, which is fronted by a lobotomized, bong-sucking faux-Cobain, or Sweden's own prettied-up, Raw Power-era Stooges, The Hives?)
Look, people are dissatisfied. They can't jibe with life in the modern age. It's just not clear-cut enough. The present hasn't been around long enough to be fictionalized, compartmentalized and simplified. In dumbed-down hindsight, the '90s were all angst and flannel, the '80s were “wacky” and the '70s-disgustingly enough-were “funky.”
In speaking with Devo's Jerry Casale a few weeks ago about the popularity, and subsequent lack of ideology, of throwback movements like neo-garage and electroclash, he said, “It's true! Devolution is happening today. People are getting dumber!”
And he's right. The distance of time reduces genres and causes and decades to their base level elements in order to make them accessible. Ideologies, intent and passion are abandoned for a cartoonish facsimile of the original document. And that's where we find Eyes Adrift-a band which fully believes in its artistic worth and tries damn hard, but is bound to be swept up in mindless '90s nostalgia and chased by a fuck-wit fan-base seeking shards of yesteryear.
And really, they don't deserve it. But the tide of popular taste can be a mighty bitch.
Still, Kirkwood shakes off talk of nostalgia and begs us to check out the record, to forget about the past and listen with clean, unbiased ears.
“People are going to have their expectations shattered by this band because it is really good. They're not going to get a dose of what they expected. I mean, the components are simpler, but the overall sound is unique, and that's why we pursued it.” ©