Rockers put tragedies behind them

Friday, October 18, 2002
By Doug Pullen

The members of the trio Eyes Adrift could easily call themselves The Survivors. They all have watched from the front row as heroin addiction ravaged or killed colleagues in their former bands.

Now, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, ex-Meat Puppets frontman Curt Kirkwood and former Sublime and Long Beach Dub All-Stars drummer Bud Gaugh just went to get on with their lives and careers.

“I don’t think we’re all scarred or anything, but we’re definitely a little wiser for the wear after what we’ve been through,” says Kirkwood, who put the Puppets on hold last year because of his younger brother and bassist Cris Kirkwood’s drug problems.

Gaugh dabbled himself and saw Sublime singer Bradley Nowell overdose six years ago. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, hailed as one of the most brilliant songwriters in rock in the 1990s, committed suicide in 1994 after a long battle with heroin.

“I don’t want to put myself back in that situation,” Kirkwood says from his home in Austin as the band prepared for a fall tour coming to Detroit’s St. Andrew’s Hall on Saturday. “I want to have a little wisdom prevail. You can’t just throw yourself in again. You have to be clear about what you want.”

It’s important for the members of Eyes Adrift to make music without their considerable baggage. Says Kirkwood: “We want to have an easier ride, to capitalize on what we did, use our sweat equity, and move along in our careers without ignoring what we did.”

Eyes Adrift’s self-titled debut album was released Sept. 24 on the independent Spinart Music label. It doesn’t sound anything like the members’ former bands, though Kirkwood’s throaty vocals and penchant for country-rock recall early Meat Puppets records.

“I don’t think anybody’s that vain, you know, and we have a lot of respect individually and as a group for where we’ve all been,” explains Kirkwood, a 43-year-old, Texas-born, Phoenix-bred singer and guitarist. “It’s easy not to think about. We just said, Let’s do what we want to do.’ “Eyes Adrift came together quickly last fall. Kirkwood and Novoselic, whose bands had toured together (Meat Puppets are featured on Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged” CD), hooked up last October in Seattle at the end of the guitarist’s first solo tour. Kirkwood was driving home to Austin when he got a call saying Gaugh, whom he’d never met, was interested in doing something. The group was born by December.

“It was kind of just, Let’s get together and play some music,’ ” Kirkwood says. That a band would grow out of those early sessions “was definitely kind of a surprise.”

“I was blown away that it’s as cohesive as it is since we did it off the cuff,” he says.

Eyes Adrift did a short spring tour this year, including a stop in Detroit, before recording the 12 songs that make up the “Eyes Adrift” CD.

The sad, weary, relaxed songs have taken on more of an edge in concert, Kirkwood says, noting that he and his bandmates barely learned the songs before recording them. “It’s louder onstage,” he says. “It sounds a lot like the record, more full, but it’s fun, a little more spirited.”Neither Novoselic (whose former group has a new single and box set coming out), Gaugh nor Kirkwood have placed many expectations on their post-grunge supergroup.”We just want to do what feels good. That’s what we’re thinking,” he says. “We’re making sure we can do that and not putting ourselves into any situation that would make it too strange that we can’t wriggle around.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *