|Photo by Sandlin Gaither|
Archers of Loaf are the very definition of the '90s stalwart alt-rock band. They toiled in relative obscurity while many of their contemporaries made it big and ruled the airwaves for a good decade or so. Those who knew them loved them like a small child loves a puppy: with a bursting-at-the-seams excitement that refuses to be reigned in by any words or actions. Those who didn't -- and, sadly, there were many -- missed out on what was likely the hidden gem in the '90s alt-rock landscape.
More arty and obtuse the Big Three (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins) and even more underdoggy than the bands who deliberately positioned themselves as such (Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk, et al), AoL have seen all four of their studio albums re-released in the last year to higher praise than when they were first released -- impressive since they were critics' darlings from the beginning.
Listening to them now, away from the clatter of two decades ago, brings the realization that, in the end, much of their work had more in common with British bands like Gang of Four and Wire (their 1993 debut, Icky Mettle, in particular), with their vaguely angular hooks and noisy passages, than with the thunderous sludge being peddled out of the Pacific Northwest. It has aged approximately 342 times better, to boot. Sometimes vindication for your actions takes a little while. Ahead of Archers of Loaf's Saturday and Sunday gigs at 400 Bar, Gimme Noise talked with AoL's bassist Matt Gentling about cult status vs. widespread popularity, and a stabbing they witnessed in Florida.