Eyes Adrift: Few have heard of group, but members hail from Nirvana, Meat Puppets, Sublime
By Michael Deeds
The Idaho Statesman
the members of Eyes Adrift step onstage Monday, they´ll be in a room that
barely holds as many bodies as the plush tour bus idling outside.
these men sold millions of records. Krist Novoselic pummeled bass in Nirvana,
which sent grunge music into the commercial stratosphere. Curt Kirkwood sang
and played guitar in the Meat Puppets, which influenced countless
indie-rockers. Bud Gaugh manned drums in Sublime, which mixed reggae, ska and
punk into a palatable radio recipe.
mention Eyes Adrift to the average music fan: You´ll be met with a blank stare.
these men helped mold the musical clay of the 1990s. But can they harness
lightning again? And does anyone -- including the band members -- really care?
no pressure," Kirkwood says, phoning from a tour stop in Chicago.
"We´ve all been through situations where people said, ´Wow, trendsetting,
oh boy, whatever.´ We´ve all had our dreams come true and seen them shattered.
On goes the life, so they say."
Adrift materialized in 2001, a coincidental collision of three post-grunge
warriors floating through space: "I have no idea how this happened," Kirkwood admits.
who´s known Kirkwood for about a decade, saw him performing solo in Seattle in
2001. He approached the middle-aged ex-Meat Puppet about jamming. Days later,
as Kirkwood was driving home to Austin, Texas, he got a phone call from Gaugh,
who hadn´t met Kirkwood, but had heard about him through friends. He wanted to
three men got together and bashed instruments. Something clicked. Yet none of
them fully comprehended the haunting effect that the past would have on this
stupid that we didn´t think that this is going to be seen as a ´supergroup,´
" Kirkwood admits. "... It seemed like a dream group more than a
supergroup. To me, it was like a dream come true."
didn´t take long for the trio to realize that Eyes Adrift was more than a side
project. They recorded an album and released it on SpinArt Records, an
independent label. Then they organized a club tour, which they are paying for
themselves. Thanks to the ´90s, none of them is strapped for cash.
Adrift has committed to touring through 2003. After all, what else are they
going to do?
is nowhere to go back to," Kirkwood, 43, explains. "It doesn´t work
that way. That´s what you find out. Once you´ve been to the top of the mountain,
that´s it. That one´s done. You just go on and find another one."
expedition rivals Mount Everest. Popular music magazine Blender awarded Eyes
Adrift´s self-titled debut just two stars and complained that it "sounds
like any one of the hundreds of guitar-seriousness bands that arose in the wake
of (Nirvana´s ) ´Nevermind.´ "
criticism is true. It´s also understandable, based on the group´s roots.
Kirkwood sings most songs and sketches hollowed-out guitar webs -- the same
kind that made him popular with country-loving punks. In some ways, "Eyes
Adrift" feels like the sequel to the Meat Puppets´ weighty
time I play with these guys, I just have to smile to myself, because it´s just
so much fun," Kirkwood says. "The music takes care of itself."
hoping to revive the flannel era will be disappointed. Eyes Adrift´s concerts
have contained no musical references to the band members´ past lives. The trio
sees no reason to open their scrapbooks: "The association never hurt the
Meat Puppets, for instance, with Nirvana," Kirkwood claims, "but it
never helped (either)."
to point fingers at the holy, but that sounds a little like denial.
late frontman, Kurt Cobain, supercharged the Meat Puppets´ career in 1993 when
he invited the band to perform on "MTV Unplugged." The packaging of
the Meat Puppet´s biggest-selling album, 1994´s "Too High To Die,"
contained a sticker with this Cobain quote: "The Meat Puppets gave me a
completely different attitude toward music -- I owe so much to them."
Nirvana legacy continues to affect Novoselic, too. His follow-up band, Sweet
75, got a sour reception from grunge fans, but he´s still a celebrity because
of Nirvana. The recently released, last-known Nirvana song, "You Know
You´re Right," currently tops modern-rock radio charts.
Eyes Adrift won´t be playing a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." That much seems certain. And so far, fans have been OK with that, Kirkwood says
-- even if clubs are sometimes less than full.
a lot of ways, I think we wanted to start again from the ground up," he
says. "We felt like we had nothing to prove."