never been to Omaha, but I played in Lincoln before in another band. I kinda remember it
because we drove by it, it has really tall buildings, right? Maybe its because
its so flat out there, that they stand out..."|
Zedek, guitarist/vocalist/song writer for indie-rock legends Come says this with a thick,
East Coast drawl. She stops and starts as she speaks over the phone, watching as equipment
is loaded into the nights venue in London, Ontario, the third date on their 6-week
tour that will bring the band to Omahas Cog Factory Saturday, Feb. 28.
She sounds anything but how the countrys rock media have
described her music: gloomy, dark, black, brooding, depressing. Fans of Come will tell you
that beneath the musics minor chords, guitar pounding and disturbing lyrics, there
is an uncompromising beauty and honesty that leave listeners both numb and wanting more.
Zedek says she gets tired of being described as a Gloomy Gus.
"Especially because Im really not like that as a person. When I do face-to-face
interviews, people are actually surprised that we (the band) joke around, that we
dont take ourselves that seriously," Zedek says, then trails off onto another
thought. "But on the other hand, I know that some of its kinda deserving. Some
of the songs are dark, or whatever... I prefer to think of it as more passionate music
instead of depressing."
Tags have been placed on Come since the bands breakneck,
breakthrough first album, Eleven:Eleven, in 1992. Remember, this was the height of indie
musics golden moment, with Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. and Bob Mould all breaking into
above-ground radio play. Come didnt share in the glory, because their music was way
too hard, too uncompromising for program directors looking for something cool, but not
necessarily honest. Comes music is huge, anthemic, with two lead guitarists trying
to outdo each other as they spill out their emotional guts.
The other half of Comes one-two punch comes from Chris Brokaw,
former drummer for Codeine, who co-writes with Zedek, and since 1996s Near Life
Experience, has contributed some lead vocals. His dry, unemotive voice is the perfect
compliment for Zedeks guttural howl, which could be compared to Courtney Loves
if Love had an inkling of Zedeks control or talent.
Zedek says she and Brokaw have grown past their influences, but when
they started out, "we were into the Rolling Stones, Gun Club, early British bands
like the Only Ones, the Go Betweens, the Bad Seeds, These Immortal Souls."
They certainly havent grown far from their musical roots.
However, Gently Down the Stream, Comes new CD on Matador, is a departure of sorts.
Sandwiched between dense slabs of guitar are a few somber, even quiet moments.
"Saints Around My Neck," for example, begins with a lilting, chime-like
two-guitar melody. But before you know it, along comes the trademark pounding assault, as
Zedeks voice goes from a quiet confession to an angry, blazing testimony. The
gentle/brutal combo makes for a disturbing metaphor for a song about, well, religion?
Zedek, doesnt give many clues.
"Pretty much I wrote most of that song, that beginning riff
with the two guitars," she says. "The part after that I kinda been kickin
around for a while, it took a while to gestate. A lot of our songs are like that,
actually. Its weird. Some parts in that song were stuff wed been messing with
for a really long time."
Yeah, but whats the song about? The lyrics, as I can make them
out at the end of the track: "What have I done?/Something is wrong/Should I have
known?/Fedra is gone/Everyones sick/Saints around their necks/Defending
themselves/Taking their pills/Im falling down/I lost my crown/I cant
confess/With saints around my neck/I cant even breathe/Something is choking me/Is
this a warning/Why dont you show me?"
"Its kinda like about, well, about superstition,"
Zedek says. "People wearing saints around their necks; religion for the superstitious
Zedek is even less helpful with the another standout, "Middle
of Nowhere," which starts out sounding like a lullaby, until the second verse, where
Zedek describes a horrid car accident from the drivers perspective. Was that one
"Thats actually kinda from a dream I had," Zedek
says, "and it was kinda about a relationship. It actually is autobiographical. I did
have that dream, that I was driving in a place like west Texas, really barren, and there
was a car wreck. I was in a truck and they had to extract me through the windshield, but
it wasnt really that scary of a dream, it was one of those cinematic dreams, where
youre, like, watching a movie."
It becomes obvious that the meaning behind the music comes from the
power of its performance. (Zedek had a difficult time even remembering how the
albums title came about. "Our drummer had made this recording of all these
songs he had written, one of the songs involved row, row, row your boat. Plus
there was the cover we used (of someone watching an enormous wave collapse from shore),
and I was thinking, gently down the stream seems like a good theme for a
Zedek says its "kinda cool" to know that they might
be playing to an audience most of whom will be hearing her band for the first time.
Certainly the Cog Factory will be a stark contrast to Minneapolis 400 Club, where
theyll play the night before.
"Were used to it," she says. "Thats how
tours are, you play one city then a different one and its a different situation.
Its always nice to have a lot of people, but the size of the crowd doesnt
affect the kinda show we do. You can play for a bunch of people and think I totally
blew it, you know what I mean? Ive had a really fun time playing for not many
people, it depends on the people whore there, the atmosphere. We always give it our
Printed in The Reader February 26, 1998.
Copyright © 1998 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.