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It would also be seven years between the release of Get Together and Backbiter‘s second effort, a CD split with Swedish band Elope that came out in May on Man’s Ruin. Hall doesn‘t sing about warlocks and unicorns, nor does the group sludge it up in an overtly Sabbathy fashion, but the association with Man’s Ruin has stirred some welcome interest from modern-day heshers.
“We‘re on the fringes of stoner rock,” Seifert says. “I really like that down-to-earth rock, and we’ve often played with Fu Manchu and Nebula. I don‘t know if we necessarily fit that category; we don’t tune down to D. But it‘s ostensibly less image-conscious, more jeans and a T-shirt, and more about the music.” Backbiter’s five tracks on the split CD are among their finest, and the additional songs from the Pretty Things--influenced Elope (ex--Union Carbide Productions) make for a simpatico combination, but it‘s also a bit of a tragedy that other great Hall originals like “I Understand” and the epic pent-up-lust explosion “I Can’t Wait,” from the same recording sessions, had to be left off for space reasons. Man‘s Ruin apparently intended to release a full-length Backbiter CD next year, before the label recently fell apart. “It’s probably our biggest-selling record so far,” Hall jokes, “even with the record company going out of business.”
It‘s somehow fitting that “Nova,” the fastest and most exhilarating tune on the new CD, was inspired by riding around in former keyboardist Muendel’s clunky ‘65 station wagon. “The song’s about being in a car that‘s really old and loud,” Hall says. “It’s a song about freedom and doing what you believe in even though the vehicle you‘re in could break down at any time. The Nova symbolized the idea of music for me, because obviously the music business isn’t a smart place to go into, but if you feel compelled to do something, you have to do it.”
“I‘m attracted to the idea of playing with people who play for no reward other than what you get out of playing,” says Lee, who also fronts the Rotters and The Bob Lee, and has played with Crawlspace, Fearless Leader, Claw Hammer, Paper Tulips, Nastassya Filippovna and Wayne Kramer, among many others.
“We’re not going to make a living doing this,” Hall agrees. “But I still like playing with these two guys, and I‘m still writing songs that I like. Not playing would be easy if I weren’t coming up with anything anymore. But when I‘m writing what I think are some of the best songs I’ve ever written, then it‘s hard to stop.”
Backbiter plays at Mr. T’s Bowl, Saturday, December 8.