Like many indie rock bands of the '90s, Archers of Loaf achieved their greatest level of respect and success only after breaking up. Releasing four studio albums between 1991 and 1998 on Alias Records, they've recently reunited after 13 years apart to support their long overdue re-releases of classics "Vee Vee" and "Icky Mettle," now available on Merge.
"It was just good timing and serendipitous," notes lead singer Eric Bachmann. "We never lost touch as a band. We never thought we would play again necessarily, but we'd talk about it every five years. I was actually the holdout. We realized we were getting older and that it would be real fun to do. So it just kind of made sense to do it now with the Merge reissues."
In between the band's breakup and reformation, Bachmann pursued solo projects, first as Crooked Fingers and later recording under his own name. A drastic departure from his lyrical and singing styles in Archers' noisy adolescence, Bachman's voice would eventually heal from all that screaming as his style eventually resembled that of a crooner, playing barren, serious ballads with little more than an acoustic guitar.
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"Yeah, I'm screaming again," Bachman notes. "After a while it will start sounding like it used to. I'm 42 years old and I was 20 when I destroyed my throat. I should feel ridiculous, but it's so much fun and I'm getting such a positive response that I don't."
Playing the part
Though Bachmann is yelling again, he says the Archers on the reissue and the Archers you'll see on stage this weekend are two different beasts.
"It's definitely not the same sound," he says. "Even now when I'm doing it, I think it's different even though I'm screaming and trying. I don't really care how we're perceived. ... I get a great deal of satisfaction now when people are smiling back at me, but back then I was angrier. I've changed my relationship with the songs. Lyrically, at first I thought I'd have a hard time because they're supposed to be funny, sarcastic and snarky like a teenager would be, but I haven't had that problem at all. At this point I feel like I'm playing a cha-racter. I'm going back and playing myself when I was 20. It's ea-sy for me to say, 'this isn't who I am, I'm going to put this mask on and play this way.' I don't think it's insincere because that is who I was then. Now it's not about me saying something artistically, it's about having a good time."
If you go
The Archers of Loaf
Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.
The Middle East Downstairs
482 Mass. Ave., Cambridge