It's Your Last Chance to See Bitch Magnet, They Promise
Even in this era of Every Band That Ever Existed Must And Will Reunite, the return of Bitch Magnet is surprising, a bit shocking, really -- as if a Mars space probe long given up for lost somehow found its way back to Earth.
Beginning in 1987, the North Carolina-via-Ohio band--still clinging to the tail end of their teenage years -- raged cacophonously, helping usher in a particularly complex and artful form of quasi-punk aggression that came to be called "post-hardcore" or "math-rock." Three exhilarating albums got made, members left (sometimes under less-than-amicable circumstances) and then returned, and finally the whole thing disintegrated in 1990. Diehard devotees of the late '80s noise underground may have remembered them fondly over the next two decades, but as good as they were, Bitch Magnet's legacy never grew into the kind of hallowed mystique afforded to peers like Slint or Polvo, and the band appeared permanently exiled to history. So the fact that they're an active band again in 2012, however welcome the re-emergence, just seems a bit . . . weird.
"For you and me both," laughs guitarist Jon Fine. "I have no idea how any of this happened." He and Bitch Magnet drummer Orestes Morfin are in a taxi heading for the airport. The night before, they teamed with singer-bassist Sooyoung Park in Seattle for the reconstituted trio's first U.S. show in 22 years; the first of just five dates in the States before Bitch Magnet disbands again for good. The gig went great; Mudhoney's Mark Arm even joined them onstage for a set-closing cover of Minor Threat's "Filler."
"We feel incredibly fortunate that some people remember us," says Fine. "This band was very meaningful to us, and it appears to have been very meaningful to a few other people, too."
These days, the trio seems several lifetimes away from the roiling, noisy days of their Bitch Magnet youth. The New York-based Fine's currently an editorial director at Magnum Photos; for a while he was a columnist at BusinessWeek magazine and a regular on CNBC, and he's written articles for The Atlantic and Food & Wine (for which he won a 2011 James Beard Award). Morfin's a hydrogeochemist who lives in Calgary, and Park, a software developer, splits his time between Singapore and Seoul. While Fine and Morfin have always kept one foot in the music world with various bands and projects, Park -- whose post-Bitch Magnet band Seam was active for most of the '90s -- hadn't so much as picked up an instrument for a dozen years prior to the reunion.