Q&A: Come's Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw On Van Halen, Chavez, and Reunions (Including Codeine!)
The prospect of post-blues dirge shredders Come reforming with all four original members didn't exactly trigger an earth-shaking ruckus akin to what ensued when Guided by Voices and Dinosaur Jr schlepped their "classic" lineups on the road. But the reunion of singer/guitarist/badass Thalia Zedek, fellow axe-grinder Chis Brokaw (also of slowcore purists Codeine), original bassist Sean O'Brien, and drummer Arthur Johnson (of Athens rascals Kilkenny Cats and Bar-B-Q Killers, respectively) has fire; throughout the band's existence, Come trudged on and killed it, deconstructing the blues through a dead-serious, cigarette-induced doom-n-gloom and releasing four LPs--including 1992's monolith downer Eleven: Eleven, still lauded as an indie-rock classic nearly two decades later--before disbanding in 2001.
The band made a triumphant return to the stage to celebrate Matador's 21st anniversary in Las Vegas last year, and they play New York this Saturday at the Bell House. We spoke to Zedek and Brokaw via email.
Recently, Sound of the City interviewed Matt Sweeney of Chavez and he raved about Come, saying you guys were the template for Chavez. Did you hear a Come influence in Chavez? Do you think those guys ripped you off?
Brokaw: I'm flattered, but I never heard it. I never thought they sounded like us at all. We were both trying to do something interesting with the two guitars-bass-drums set-up. It seemed like lots of bands at the time were.
Did Come ever "officially" break up, or have you been on one of those Fugazi-like "indefinite hiatuses" with the faint chance of reforming?
Brokaw: The official breakup was 2001. We did our "last show" in April 2001. Thalia and I both felt like we'd sort of run our course with the band. We both wanted to work on new things and we felt proud of all we'd done--that we'd had a good run.
Was there any emotional and negative breakup drama?
Zedek: No bad breakup drama. I think I just felt that maybe we'd taken the band as far as it could go, both in a creative sense and in a band sense. We took a year off to think about it while both me and Chris did other projects, and when we reconvened we decided to "officially" put it to rest.
Reunions are rampant, especially with bands from your era of indie rock. Were you skeptical at first about doing Come again?
Zedek: I agree that it's definitely become a phenomenon. It seems like it's been a very exciting one too, especially for a lot of younger fans who never got a chance to see those bands perform live. I've taken the opportunity to see some of those bands that I missed the first time around (Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. with Lou Barlow).
Brokaw: I think I've been sporadically leery of many of the recent reunions and probably spent more time than is useful speculating about various bands' motives. I've avoided seeing many reunions of bands I really enjoyed seeing 'back in the day' because i just thought: I've seen this, I saw this, I don't need to re-live this. For example, I saw both My Bloody Valentine and Van Halen arguably at their peaks (the Loveless tour and the 1984 tour, respectively) and felt i didn't need to see them again. I've seen some reunions that were great and enjoyable--bands I never saw before, and others I was happy to see again. And I've seen some that were really unsettling time warps. I'm pretty mixed, it feels very band-by-band.
That's arguably the first time My Bloody Valentine and Van Halen were mentioned in the same sentence. Where did you see VH on the 1984 tour?
Brokaw: Madison Square Garden. I was sort of dragged kicking and screaming to see them and I totally loved it. Two of my favorite shows ever were that week: VH at MSG and Minor Threat at Great Gildersleeves (a club on the Bowery).