Category Archives: WRENS WATCH

Wrens Watch, Jan. 4, 2010

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Pat Morita.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, Jan. 9, 2009, marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—50 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 47 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesForty-two weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Forty-one weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 40 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 35 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 33 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo 32 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Thirty-one weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 30 and 29 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Twenty-eight weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 27 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Twenty-six weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 25 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Twenty-four weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 23 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Twenty-two weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Twenty-one weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Twenty weeks ago19 weeks ago and 18 weeks ago, we got nothing. Seventeen weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens had shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Sixteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he was scheduled to play a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should have called it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Fifteen weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Fourteen weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show would feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second would be comprised of as many news songs the band could play. You got the feeling the first show would probably be much longer than the second one. Thirteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens had added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’d play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Twelve weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens had a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Eleven weeks ago, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” Ten weeks ago, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news soon. Nine weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say the Wrens would be selling a limited-edition CD-R at the Maxwell’s shows that includes “really old pre-Silver songs and at least one new one.” We asked for a copy but still haven’t heard back. Eight weeks ago, Bissell told us the band rehearsed twice and worked on getting its, uh, studio up and running. Seven weeks ago, we got nothing. Six weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say that while the Wrens continue to not record, they have been getting together to rehearse for their live shows. He added, “And believe it or not, after a 20-year DIY spell, we’re taking on management. So in the future, I’ll have staff to reply to your emails.” We hope he’s kidding about that last bit. Turns out, he was. Five weeks ago, Bissell emailed us only to say, “Happy Thanksgiving.” What a guy! Four weeks ago, Bissell called to tell us the band recorded all three of its Maxwell’s shows for an upcoming live EP. He also made some mom jokes. Three weeks ago, Bissell didn’t even email. Two weeks ago marked the one-year anniversary of Wrens Watch, and we were sad to report the band seems no closer to finishing its new album than it was this time last year. In celebration, we had a look back at the very first Wrens Watch. We were so much older then, we’re younger than that now. This week, we are happy to report that Jersey Films has bought the rights to Wrens Watch and will soon be turning it into a major motion picture. The cast thus far includes acting newcomer Mike Huckabee as Bissell, Jon Favreau as MacDonald, and Jim True-Frost as both Whelan brothers (a la Nicolas Cage in Adaptation). It will mark the directorial debut of Secaucus, N.J.-based actor Dan Resin. We’ll be busy working on the screenplay, which will mean that new updates to Wrens Watch will become much less frequent. Given nothing seems to be going on with a new Wrens album, it shouldn’t really matter.

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed

Wrens Watch, Dec. 21, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Davy Jones.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—48 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 45 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesForty weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty-nine weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 38 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 33 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 31 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 30 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty-nine weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 28 and 27 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Twenty-six weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 25 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Twenty-four weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 23 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Twenty-two weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 21 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Twenty weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Nineteen weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Eighteen weeks ago17 weeks ago and 16 weeks ago, we got nothing. Fifteen weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens had shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Fourteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he was scheduled to play a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should have called it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Thirteen weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Twelve weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show would feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second would be comprised of as many news songs the band could play. You got the feeling the first show would probably be much longer than the second one. Eleven weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens had added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’d play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Ten weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens had a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Nine weeks ago, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” Eight weeks ago, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news soon. Seven weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say the Wrens would be selling a limited-edition CD-R at the Maxwell’s shows that includes “really old pre-Silver songs and at least one new one.” We asked for a copy but still haven’t heard back. Six weeks ago, Bissell told us the band rehearsed twice and worked on getting its, uh, studio up and running. Five weeks ago, we got nothing. Four weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say that while the Wrens continue to not record, they have been getting together to rehearse for their live shows. He added, “And believe it or not, after a 20-year DIY spell, we’re taking on management. So in the future, I’ll have staff to reply to your emails.” We hope he’s kidding about that last bit. Turns out, he was. Three weeks ago, Bissell emailed us only to say, “Happy Thanksgiving.” What a guy! Two weeks ago, Bissell called to tell us the band recorded all three of its Maxwell’s shows for an upcoming live EP. He also made some mom jokes. Last week, Bissell didn’t even email. This week marks the one-year anniversary of Wrens Watch, and we’re sad to report the band seems no closer to finishing its new album than it was this time last year. In celebration, let’s have a look back at the very first Wrens Watch. We were so much older then, we’re younger than that now.

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed

Wrens Watch, Dec. 14, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Angus Young.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—47 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 44 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesThirty-nine weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty-eight weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 37 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 32 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 30 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 29 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty-eight weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 27 and 26 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Twenty-five weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 24 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Twenty-three weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 22 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Twenty-one weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 20 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Nineteen weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Eighteen weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Seventeen weeks ago16 weeks ago and 15 weeks ago, we got nothing. Fourteen weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens had shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Thirteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he was scheduled to play a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should have called it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Twelve weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Eleven weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show would feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second would be comprised of as many news songs the band could play. You got the feeling the first show would probably be much longer than the second one. Ten weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens had added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’d play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Nine weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens had a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Eight weeks ago, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” Seven weeks ago, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news soon. Six weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say the Wrens would be selling a limited-edition CD-R at the Maxwell’s shows that includes “really old pre-Silver songs and at least one new one.” We asked for a copy but still haven’t heard back. Five weeks ago, Bissell told us the band rehearsed twice and worked on getting its, uh, studio up and running. Four weeks ago, we got nothing. Three weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say that while the Wrens continue to not record, they have been getting together to rehearse for their live shows. He added, “And believe it or not, after a 20-year DIY spell, we’re taking on management. So in the future, I’ll have staff to reply to your emails.” We hope he’s kidding about that last bit. Turns out, he was. Two weeks ago, Bissell emailed us only to say, “Happy Thanksgiving.” What a guy! Last week, Bissell called to tell us the band recorded all three of its Maxwell’s shows for an upcoming live EP. He also made some mom jokes. This week, Bissell didn’t even email.

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed

Wrens Watch, Dec. 7, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Leo Sayer.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—46 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 43 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesThirty-eight weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty-seven weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 36 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 31 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 29 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 28 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty-seven weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 26 and 25 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Twenty-four weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 23 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Twenty-two weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 21 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Twenty weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 19 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Eighteen weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Seventeen weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Sixteen weeks ago15 weeks ago and 14 weeks ago, we got nothing. Thirteen weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens had shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Twelve weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he was scheduled to play a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should have called it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Eleven weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Ten weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show would feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second would be comprised of as many news songs the band could play. You got the feeling the first show would probably be much longer than the second one. Nine weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens had added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’d play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Eight weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens had a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Seven weeks ago, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” Six weeks ago, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news soon. Five weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say the Wrens would be selling a limited-edition CD-R at the Maxwell’s shows that includes “really old pre-Silver songs and at least one new one.” We asked for a copy but still haven’t heard back. Four weeks ago, Bissell told us the band rehearsed twice and worked on getting its, uh, studio up and running. Three weeks ago, we got nothing. Two weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say that while the Wrens continue to not record, they have been getting together to rehearse for their live shows. He added, “And believe it or not, after a 20-year DIY spell, we’re taking on management. So in the future, I’ll have staff to reply to your emails.” We hope he’s kidding about that last bit. Turns out, he was. Last week, Bissell emailed us only to say, “Happy Thanksgiving.” What a guy! This week, Bissell called to tell us the band recorded all three of its Maxwell’s shows for an upcoming live EP. He also made some mom jokes.

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed

Wrens Watch, Nov. 30, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Sammy Davis, Jr.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—45 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 42 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesThirty-seven weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty-six weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 35 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 30 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 28 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 27 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty-six weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 25 and 24 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Twenty-three weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 22 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Twenty-one weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 20 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Nineteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 18 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Seventeen weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Sixteen weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Fifteen weeks ago14 weeks ago and 13 weeks ago, we got nothing. Twelve weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens have shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Eleven weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he was scheduled to play a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should have called it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Ten weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Nine weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show will feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second will be comprised of as many news songs the band can play. You get the feeling the first show will probably be much longer than the second one. Eight weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens have added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’ll play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Seven weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens have a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Six weeks ago, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” Five weeks ago, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news soon. Four weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say the Wrens would be selling a limited-edition CD-R at the Maxwell’s shows that includes “really old pre-Silver songs and at least one new one.” We asked for a copy but still haven’t heard back. Three weeks ago, Bissell told us the band rehearsed twice and worked on getting its, uh, studio up and running. Two weeks ago, we got nothing. Last week, Bissell emailed to say that while the Wrens continue to not record, they have been getting together to rehearse for their upcoming live shows. He added, “And believe it or not, after a 20-year DIY spell, we’re taking on management. So in the future, I’ll have staff to reply to your emails.” We hope he’s kidding about that last bit. Turns out, he was. This week, Bissell emailed us only to say, “Happy Thanksgiving.” What a guy!

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed

Wrens Watch, Nov. 23, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Buckminster Fuller.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—44 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 41 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesThirty-six weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty-five weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 34 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 29 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 27 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 26 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty-five weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 24 and 23 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Twenty-two weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 21 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Twenty weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 19 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Eighteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 17 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Sixteen weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Fifteen weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Fourteen weeks ago13 weeks ago and 12 weeks ago, we got nothing. Eleven weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens have shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Ten weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he was scheduled to play a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should have called it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Nine weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Eight weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show will feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second will be comprised of as many news songs the band can play. You get the feeling the first show will probably be much longer than the second one. Seven weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens have added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’ll play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Six weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens have a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Five weeks ago, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” Four weeks ago, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news soon. Three weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say the Wrens would be selling a limited-edition CD-R at the Maxwell’s shows that includes “really old pre-Silver songs and at least one new one.” We asked for a copy but still haven’t heard back. Two weeks ago, Bissell told us the band rehearsed twice and worked on getting its, uh, studio up and running. Last week, we got nothing. This week, Bissell emailed to say that while the Wrens continue to not record, they have been getting together to rehearse for their upcoming live shows. He added, “And believe it or not, after a 20-year DIY spell, we’re taking on management. So in the future, I’ll have staff to reply to your emails.” We hope he’s kidding about that last bit.

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed

Wrens Watch, Nov. 16, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Martin Scorsese.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—43 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 40 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesThirty-five weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty-four weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 33 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 28 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 26 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 25 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty-four weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 23 and 22 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Twenty-one weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 20 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Nineteen weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 18 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Seventeen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 16 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Fifteen weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Fourteen weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Thirteen weeks ago12 weeks ago and 11 weeks ago, we got nothing. Ten weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens have shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Nine weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he was scheduled to play a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should have called it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Eight weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Seven weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show will feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second will be comprised of as many news songs the band can play. You get the feeling the first show will probably be much longer than the second one. Six weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens have added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’ll play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Five weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens have a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Four weeks ago, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” Three weeks ago, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news soon. Two weeks ago, Bissell emailed to say the Wrens would be selling a limited-edition CD-R at the Maxwell’s shows that includes “really old pre-Silver songs and at least one new one.” We asked for a copy but still haven’t heard back. Last week, Bissell told us the band rehearsed twice and worked on getting its, uh, studio up and running. This week: nothing.

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed

Wrens Watch, Nov. 9, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Paul Williams.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—42 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 39 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesThirty-four weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty-three weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 32 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 27 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 25 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 24 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty-three weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 22 and 21 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Twenty weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 19 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Eighteen weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 17 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Sixteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 15 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Fourteen weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Thirteen weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Twelve weeks ago11 weeks ago and 10 weeks ago, we got nothing. Nine weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens have shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Eight weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he was scheduled to play a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should have called it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Seven weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Six weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show will feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second will be comprised of as many news songs the band can play. You get the feeling the first show will probably be much longer than the second one. Five weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens have added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’ll play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Four weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens have a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Three weeks ago, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” Two weeks ago, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news soon. Last week, Bissell emailed to say the Wrens would be selling a limited-edition CD-R at the Maxwell’s shows that includes “really old pre-Silver songs and at least one new one.” We asked for a copy but still haven’t heard back. This week, Bissell told us the band rehearsed twice and worked on getting its, uh, studio up and running.

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed

Wrens Watch, Nov. 2, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as David Ben-Gurion.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—41 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 38 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesThirty-three weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty-two weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 31 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 26 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 24 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 23 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty-two weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 21 and 20 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Nineteen weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 18 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Seventeen weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 16 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Fifteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 14 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Thirteen weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Twelve weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Eleven weeks ago10 weeks ago and nine weeks ago, we got nothing. Eight weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens have shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Seven weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he was scheduled to play a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should have called it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Six weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Five weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show will feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second will be comprised of as many news songs the band can play. You get the feeling the first show will probably be much longer than the second one. Four weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens have added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’ll play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Three weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens have a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Two weeks ago, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” Last week, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news soon. This week, Bissell emailed to say the Wrens would be selling a limited-edition CD-R at the Maxwell’s shows that includes “really old pre-Silver songs and at least one new one.” We asked for a copy but still haven’t heard back.

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed

Wrens Watch, Oct. 26, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as John Keats.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003′s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—40 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 37 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesThirty-two weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty-one weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 30 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 25 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 23 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 22 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty-one weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 20 and 19 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Eighteen weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 17 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Sixteen weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 15 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Fourteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 13 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Twelve weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Eleven weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Ten weeks agonine weeks ago and eight weeks ago, we got nothing. Seven weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens have shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Six weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he is playing a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should call it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Five weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Four weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show will feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second will be comprised of as many news songs the band can play. You get the feeling the first show will probably be much longer than the second one. Three weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens have added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’ll play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Two weeks ago, all we found out was that the Wrens have a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. Last week, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.” This week, Bissell responded to our emails, but he said nothing of interest, other than he’d have some news for next week.

Posted in WRENS WATCH | Comments closed