Wanderin’ Eyes

Larry Rodgers
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 31, 2002 12:00:00

Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets with his eyes adrift. Don’t miss his performance with Krist of Nirvana and Bud of Sublime.

Despite music-industry murmurings of “a new supergroup,” ex-Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, Meat Puppets leader Curt Kirkwood and Sublime alum Bud Gaugh can’t be accused of hyping their new project, Eyes Adrift.

As they hit the road for two weeks of shows between Seattle and Austin, they don’t have their debut album ready, have yet to sign a record deal and must scramble to even locate a publicity photo.

“I think we’d rather have an easy go at it than have a bunch of hype,” Kirkwood says via cellphone as the trio heads to Portland, Ore.

Nonetheless, Kirkwood, who led the Meat Puppets to fame in Phoenix before moving to Texas, is clearly excited about the group’s potential.

“My head is still spinning because it was all such a happy accident,” he says.

“I ran into Krist doing my solo gig in Seattle in October, and he wanted to do something. Right around the same time, Bud called me. Neither Krist or I had met Bud, but I just kind of got the feeling we could do it.”

After agreeing to meet in Austin, Kirkwood says, “we set up recording time, and then – boom! – we recorded all through December.”

The result is at least 10 songs that Kirkwood says reflect the influences of all three musicians’ former bands. (The Meat Puppets are on what could turn into an extended hiatus, while Sublime and Nirvana have long been disbanded.)

“It sounds as if the members have been involved in alternative music in the past,” Kirkwood coyly jokes when asked to describe Eyes Adrift’s sound.

The group’s management says the music has a heavy dose of recent Meat Puppets – which is more melodic and accessible than the band’s freewheeling early work. Novoselic also reportedly has a strong vocal presence, as opposed to his supporting role to the late Kurt Cobain in Nirvana.

“Krist is a good singer – he’s fun,” Kirkwood says. “Everyone will get a kick out of it because I don’t think they’ve heard him sing too much.”

Gaugh, whose versatile percussion enlivened Sublime’s mix of ska and punk, also joined in the songwriting process.

“We almost got a record done. We’ve got a pretty good (live) set worked up – it’s all original, new material,” Kirkwood says, seemingly quashing any fantasies of Eyes Adrift performing classics by their former bands when they visit Tempe on Saturday.

Asked to describe a few of the new tracks, Kirkwood mentions Inquiring Minds, which is “about the atrocities of the press” in dealing with the death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in Colorado.

“It’s more about the press than JonBenet,” the 43-year-old guitarist says. “It’s a really fun song. We’ve been torn up about it a little because of the irony: If you’re going to mention it, then you are a party to the same exploitative thing.”

Another new song, Pasted, lasts 15 minutes and is described as “one of the luckier tracks that we have” because several musical styles came together successfully.

The band is no rush to bring in a record company to promote the disc, Kirkwood says.

Although he acknowledges that there’s no avoiding the trio’s pedigree, he adds that “we’re really trying to keep people at bay to a degree so we can keep the level of potential hype to a dull roar. 

. . .

“We’re all real conscious of what we have going, as far as a possibility (but) I’m not one to count the chickens before they’re hatched.”

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