Eyes Adrift – Keeping their eyes on the prize
Supergroups are nothing new. And usually, when they announce their presence to the world, it’s at some notable venue in an industry-connected town. But Eyes Adrift, a new trio featuring the Meat Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood on guitar, Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic on bass, and Sublime/Long Beach Dub Allstars drummer Bud Gough, didn’t launch their first tour in New York City, Los Angeles, or even a place with a more personal connection, such as Austin or Seattle. Instead, they opted for the Voodoo Cafe, a small club in the equally small town of Astoria, Oregon, just shy of the Washington state line.
In fact, the band came very close to keeping the entire tour on the same scale. “We thought about doing what we did last night all around here,” Kirkwood said a day after the Astoria show in January. “Medford, Astoria, all those little hick towns. But with the interest in the band, we knew we could get a tour that went back to Austin, so we did that. It was really quickly thrown together.”
That interest is largely due, of course, to Novoselic’s association with the most legendary rock band of the ’90s, not to mention recent legal disputes concerning that band’s legacy. And though no one in the band is eager to dwell on Novoselic’s past, it was a Nirvana connection that brought him and Kirkwood together: Curt and his brother Cris guested at Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged concert in 1993.
Fast forward to 2001, when Novoselic saw a Seattle show on Kirkwood’s solo tour. “I wasn’t really doing much musically at the time,” Novoselic explained, “and Curt said he wasn’t really doing much. And he said ‘Let’s get together. Let’s play some music. Let’s get it on!'” Gough caught a show on the same tour and was invited to join in. “I didn’t even know if we were going to get along with each other,” he says. “But I was excited to jam with somebody new, because I haven’t played with anybody I haven’t known in a long time.”
The three hunkered down in Austin last December, quickly coming up with a set that has been described as “space country.” The song “Telescope” starts out with a crunchy musical backing laced with Kirkwood’s dreamy vocals, but soon spirals into a psychedelic jam (something taken to the extreme on “Pasted”, which runs over 15 minutes). An undercurrent of melancholy also runs through much of the material; Kirkwood sounds resigned to defeat on the mellow “What I Said” as he intones “Silence is better than nothing” during the chorus.
But the biggest surprise is that Novoselic finally tackles some lead vocals, with a sweeter voice than might be expected. “I was fulfilling my Luciano Pavarotti fantasies,” he jokes. “Oh boy, if you got down to the root of them, you’d be deeply disturbed. It is a big step. But I’m totally into it.” His songs range from “Inquiring Minds”, with a pretty melody that almost disguises its attack on the media, to a C&W stomper about his dogs.
The tour ended in Austin, with further work planned on the album, due later this year. For now, the band is enjoying making music without the hassle of major-label entanglements. “We’ve kicked a lot of the bullshit out of our lives over the years, or had it kicked out,” says Kirkwood. “And it makes this the fucking easiest job in the world. That’s all there is to it. Last night proved it to me. It’s like sitting around the campfire, man.”
“All you have to do is play,” Novoselic agrees. “Why complicate it? We’re just out having fun.”