Eyes Adrift: Not just another supergroup

"I want weed, you want music. Maybe we should think about setting up some kind of trade," laughs Bud Gaugh wryly. The former Sublime drummer is responding to the same question that has been asked of his new band, Eyes Adrift, since they first announced their new tour that cuts a swath across the United States but makes absolutely no move north of the border.

"We can't cross the border," says Gaugh, "rather, I can't." I can almost see Gaugh smiling suggestively all the way from North Carolina. "But Canada is the only exception you know. Everyone else will let us in. We could do a world tour and completely miss Canada."

The tour would probably be profitable too. Gaugh, guitarist Curt Kirkwood (formerly of the Meat Puppets), and bassist Krist Novoselic (formerly of Nirvana and Sweet 75) make up Eyes Adrift, making it an alternative supergroup of sorts.

However, that stigma begs questions about Eyes Adrift's purpose for being. "Eyes Adrift is not a side project," says Gaugh defensively. "This is a full time band. We really enjoy what we're doing and have plans to release more albums and tour." Eyes Adrift are scheduled to play a show almost every night until Christmas.

In spite of the fact that all three members of Eyes Adrift can boast multiplatinum selling careers, Gaugh says that they have felt no pressure going onstage. "We're not playing against any ghosts onstage and only play up to the expectations we set for ourselves at each show."

Potential show goers should not expect to see a nostalgia act either. No songs from any of the members' previous bands get dusted off.

"The crowds are littered with old Sublime and Nirvana T-shirts and as soon as the beer starts flowing every now and again we get requests for 'Date Rape' or 'Lake of Fire' or something," says Gaugh. "But, by the same token, we also see a lot of people singing along to the new stuff and the response to the new material has been really great."

Musically, Eyes Adrift is a departure for all three members but everyone is comfortable with the change in direction. Eyes Adrift's music draws on each of the members' previous bands while sounding like none of them, dispelling any critics that say the band is a vehicle for any one member.

"Everybody was ready for a change," says Gaugh. "But really the only difference for me is that I'm not playing reggae anymore. From a playing standpoint, I get just as hot behind my kit now as I did playing with Sublime or Long Beach Dub. I'm also seeing a change in the crowds. I think this music is a little more grown up. The people at an Eyes Adrift show range in age from fifteen to, like, sixty-five. Also, we've been doing a lot of in-store promotions that have been well attended and well received. It's nice to see that we aren't being judged on our previous merits."

Gaugh goes on to acknowledge that, while it may be the bandmembers' résumés that get people out initially, they have been winning over fans with this material after they came through the doors. The band has been writing material for the follow-up to their debut released on spinART Records on the road and debuting it at the shows as well. "We've been jamming a lot onstage, just trying new things and seeing how they play out," says Gaugh "It's actually pretty exciting for us because we've never really been in improv based bands before. I guess the best way to say it is that, we're having fun, and the audience is digging what we're doing so we'll keep on going."

As far as the possibility of Eyes Adrift coming to Canada in the near future goes, Gaugh says the outlook isn't so good.

"I doubt it. That would cost us quite a bit of money that we're just not willing to pay. We'd do it if it didn't involve a lot of paperwork and funds. Sorry, but right now you'll have to come down to the States to see us. What Canadians need to do is write your government and get the rules changed regarding people who like drugs. There you go Canada. Get active and we'll come."

How do Eyes Adrift fare live?

And as far as live shows go, forget the new wave of mainstream 'indie' bands like The Strokes and The Whites Stripes. When Eyes Adrift took the stage at Buffalo's Mohawk Place last Saturday night, in the opening thunderous bass notes of "Telescope," Kirkwood, Novoselic and Gaugh showed the audience what indie rock should sound like.

Eclectic and powerful, in one fell swoop, Eyes Adrift proved that they are more than the sum of their multi-platinum selling parts.

Onstage, the songs on Eyes Adrift's debut take on an entirely new life of their own. On "Blind Me," "Untried," and "Alaska" Kirkwood showed no age in his vocals and, for the first time since the Too High To Die tour, actually appeared to be enjoying every moment of his time onstage.

Novoselic engaged the audience with stage banter that relied on his oft-publicized political views. He appeared as an almost religious figure on the stage; from the outset of the show the audience hung on his every word and gesture.

With all of the cheering and attention, the bassist blushed and smiled self-consciously as he rocked back and forth tentatively on the stage. The crowd erupted when he took to the mic to sing "Inquiring Minds," which, when given the live treatment, became a showcase from each bandmember of style and instrumental ability.

What I was really struck by with Eyes Adrift was the connection between each other that onstage. One wouldn't think that members of the Meat Puppets, Nirvana and Sublime would gel as well as they have on record, let alone onstage.

But the fact of the matter is each musician was completely sympathetic to the others and let no one star shine too brightly. Eyes Adrift isn't a "grunge supergroup" at all. They are simply a band that deserves the praise that they have received.

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