"It's been fun for us to get back to playing music," says Krist Novoselic, bassist in the new super trio Eyes Adrift. "After all, we're musicians, we should be playing and creating music." The "us" the one-time Nirvana member is talking about also includes former Meat Puppets frontman Curt Kirkwood and ex-Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh.
The outfit will release its eponymous debut via SpinART Records on September 24th -- eleven years to the day after Nevermind, Nirvana's classic major-label debut. Just don't call them a supergroup. "That term has a bad connotation," says Novoselic, who goes on to cite the likes of Asia and Mike and the Mechanics as examples. "We've all got our pasts, which we're really proud of, but our future is Eyes Adrift . . . People have it in their heads that we got together because we all had tragic situations in our previous bands [Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, Sublime singer Brad Nowell died of a drug overdose in 1996, and Meat Puppets' bassist Cris Kirkwood battled drug addiction after his wife Michelle Tardif died of an overdose in 1998]. "But it was purely coincidental. That would be like saying that we all got together because we all come from trios."
So how did Eyes Adrift form? "One day last fall I was looking in the newspaper and saw that Kirkwood was playing a solo gig in Seattle," says Novoselic, who has known the guitarist for close to a decade. "So I dropped in, and was like, 'Wow, Curt's still got it.' Afterwards, I approached him about getting together to jam. Ironically, Bud -- who I'd never met, but was a fan of Curt's guitar style -- was thinking the same thing after he saw Curt was playing solo down in California. So he called Curt up to see if he'd be interested in jamming. Once we all got together, I had some songs and Curt had some songs, and we made up some more, and it was really comfortable."
After spending late 2001 and 2002 honing the new material in Kirkwood's hometown of Austin, Texas, Eyes Adrift road tested the songs during a February club tour. And Novoselic says performing in front of fans in old Nirvana, Sublime and Meat Puppets t-shirts was quite reassuring. "How could we not feel confident in that environment?" he says. "No one who showed up really knew what to expect from us -- I hope they weren't expecting 'Teen Spirit' or 'Backwater.' But by the end of each show, people were into it. We didn't see anyone walk out of those shows. And for ten or twelve bucks, we gave 'em some real entertainment."
After the tour wrapped, Eyes Adrift worked diligently for three weeks in an Austin studio and came away with their twelve-song debut. "Everything came together so quickly," Novoselic says. "We were really pleased and a little bit startled. It's a tried and true rock & roll record. It's diverse, there's a lot of personality and, most importantly, really good playing."
Kirkwood sings the bulk of the songs, including the jazzy "Sleight of Hand," the hard-rocking "Alaska," and the soulful, groove-laden "Untried." Of the latter, Novoselic says, "Curt brought that one into the session. That's as close as a guy like me can get to Motown."
The melodic "Inquiring Minds" is one of the three songs on Eyes Adrift that Novoselic sings. In it, he lashes out about the media circus that exploited the 1996 death of Jon Benet Ramsey. "I was in a supermarket in Austin, when we in the early stages of the group, just working out the material," he says. "And I saw one of the tabloids and it had one of those computer-enhanced photos of Jon Benet with a headline about what she would have looked like now, had she lived. I found the whole thing quite sickening. I also kind of identified with it because of what I personally experienced back in '94 with the death of Kurt."
Novoselic also sings on "Pasted," and is particularly fond of the fifteen-minute-long opus that closes the record. "It's wild," he says, laughing. "It starts off like a cowboy song, but it twists and turns along the way. It's an epic jam!"
"I think we're a fucking rock band," he enthuses. "But I understand why people were quick to call us alt-country -- people always need a reference."
The band will launch a full-scale U.S. tour in September.
Eyes Adrift tour dates:
9/25: Dallas, Curtain Club
9/26: Houston, Engine Room
9/28: Austin, Zilker Park
10/16: Oklahoma City, OK, Classic Rock Cafe
10/17: St. Louis, MO, Blueberry Hill's Duck Room
10/18: Chicago, Schuba's
10/19: Detroit, the Shelter
10/21: Cleveland, Grog Shop
10/22: Carbondale, IL, Copper Dragon
10/23: Madison, WI, Luther's Blues
10/24: Minneapolis, 400 Bar
10/25: Lincoln, NE, Knickerbockers
10/26: Boulder, CO, Tulagi
10/27: Salt Lake City, Liquid Joe's
10/28: Boise, ID, Bourbon Street Stage
10/30: Portland, OR, Roseland Grill
10/31: Seattle, Graceland
11/2: San Rafael, CA, New George's
11/3: San Francisco, Bottom of the Hill
11/4: Santa Ana, CA, Galaxy Theater
11/5: Los Angeles, Spaceland
11/6: San Diego, Brick by Brick
11/7: Tempe, AZ, Nita's Hideaway