REM Side Project to Tour; Members Free to "Play Nothing"
Along with Buck, Robert Fripp (of King Crimson) gives the band two guitarists, which isn't unusual. Two drummers, however, might raise a few eyebrows. Either because one drummer can't meet their needs, or as an homage to Spinal Tap, drummer Matt Chamberlain is also part of the group. Keyboardist Hector Zazou and bassist Fred Chalenor (of Here Comes Everybody) round out the lineup.
Rieflin told Billboard.com, that Slow Music is "based on the idea of space, rather than filling space" (although two drum kits on one stage would seem to fill a lot of space.) He explains, "In an improvised context, instead of saying, 'Hey, play this,' I'm saying, 'If you don't know what to do, play nothing.' With six guys on stage, there's going to be at least one person to try and keep the ball rolling. Whereas so-called ambient or textural music ideas tend to live in a programmed context, I wanted to put it in a performing and playing context with musicians. In a way, it's a challenge for the musicians to learn how to work with space."
Last October, the group played some "completely improvised" music at Seattle's Crocodile Cafe. A recording, Live at the Croc will be released "somehow, somewhere", says Rieflin. Right now, there are no song titles.
So apparently Rieflin, Buck, & co. are tired of the tyranny of songs. Lyrics, the pressure to play instruments at predetermined points to please "the people" (you) and "The Man" (record labels, their parents, what have you), set lists, the pressure of being the only one to play that instrument, boring song structures (verse/chorus/verse or verse/verse/chorus, somehow, a chorus always sneaks in there.) Finally, they just couldn't take it anymore!
Is this how jam bands start? "If you don't know what to do, play nothing" is an intriguing concept for a band to pursue for entire concerts and recordings. If people may have trouble calling out for particular Slow Music songs... since they don't really have "songs", does this mean they should double-up on requests for "Freebird"?
As for R.E.M., the word is "hiatus", with "some discussion about cranking things up in autumn, maybe winter." The chances of Rieflin working with his former band, Ministry, again, are "an absolute zero".
Another R.E.M. side project, The Minus 5, recently recorded a session with The World Cafe. It will be broadcast on Thursday, May 4th. To listen live, you can look for a local station or listen online. You can also listen after the 4th, as the broadcast will be archived. There will likely be songs, with lyrics, and titles.
Slow Music Concert Dates:
May 5 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
May 6 - Seattle, WA - Showbox
May 9 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
May 12 - San Juan Capistrano, CA - The Coach House
May 13 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre
The Minus 5 - Where Will You Go? (from Down With Wilco)
Two more songs from Down With Wilco and one from In Rock are available at the group's website, and at a decent bitrate, too.
The Minus 5 - My Life As A Creep (from The Minus 5)
Hindu Love Gods - Raspberry Beret (from Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon ... an old side project of several R.E.M. bandmates, who were joined by Warren Zevon)
King Crimson - Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With (from The Power To Believe)