Thursday, November 09, 2006

We Love You Too

The official press release:

Rainer Maria to Disband

The members of the rock band Rainer Maria--beloved to critics for a sound that defied easy comparison, and to fans for their exhilarating live performances--have announced their intention to disband at the end of 2006. This announcement comes 11 years after the band's formation in October 1995.

From singer Caithlin De Marrais, guitarist Kyle Fischer, and drummer William Kuehn:

"We are grateful to our new listeners and especially our longtime fans for their endless support and attention. We feel incredibly fortunate to have come up during a unique time in rock music, in a community that grew with us from the Midwest to Brooklyn and beyond. Making records has always been a revelation, and walking onto stage together we found a vision we could share.

"For us, this transition can be nothing short of heartbreaking. But for reasons both musical and personal, the three of us have chosen this time to move on."

. . .

We started our band before I graduated from college and my parents stopped covering the rent, basically the entirety of my adult life. I can hardly remember doing anything else once I got to college. I didn't grow up a Guitar Center disciple, praying every day to Jimi or Stevie Ray or Eric Clapton or anyone. I never dreamt of "stage lights and Lear jets, fortune and fame (1)." I never even picked a guitar up with any seriousness until the summer before we started our band. I was 20 years old by then.

I used to joke in interviews about having fallen so accidentally into making a living with music. "This wasn't anything we set out to do!" It was odd to find ourselves doing almost effortlessly something so many people hungered for. But the underside is that there are other loves--other dreams--we each put aside. It would have been possible to make another album, or two, or three, and to tour around and 'round and 'round again. And it really is all as wonderful as you imagine. But it's also harder than you think.

My instinct says sum up, on behalf of everyone. For myself, in search of the legendary and elusive closure, and for everyone else, first to explain and then to solidify the way we'll be remembered. It's as if I covered my mouth in shock, and now my hand prevents me from speaking. What I can say feels like so little, and so muffled. It's hard to say anything at all.

In the last phone interview I did, the question came up, why start a band? Good question! But one which, in 1995, would have seemed ridiculous to me.

We were lucky to have started in music when we did. We formed in October 1995. First show after 2 weeks, demo tape in six, on tour by the end of December. Our urgency makes it seem all the more hilarious now to think of the 90's as a time when things moved a little slower. It sounds like cowboy-talk in TV commercials. But when we formed, I had just opened my first email account. I didn't use it--there was no one to write. If you said "Hotmail" people thought you were gay (some things haven't changed). People read things they hadn't Googled. And without file sharing or myspace, regional flavors still predominated in independent music.

We set up shows almost every week in the basement where we practiced and at coffee houses and youth centers in Madison, with two or three touring bands on every bill. People complained if the shows were over five dollars. No one made a dime. No one cared. Cap'n Jazz, Braid, Gauge, Promise Ring, Joan of Arc, Sky by Sorella, Campanula Blue . . . all of our friends in the Midwest were having this musical conversation, and it would have been unnatural not to join in. Starting a band was self-explanatory. That we all created a sort of musical vernacular amazes me still.

(I remember carrying my amp in to our first show in Tokyo in 2004. I heard our friend Tim Kinsella playing guitar downstairs at soundcheck. And I thought, "What's Tim doing in Tokyo?" I had no idea he would be there. But walking up to the stage I saw it was an opening band, some Japanese kid so obsessed with Midwestern "emo" that his playing was a perfect tribute to that of his hero.)

Good music is like moonlight--pale but strong, of enduring quality, returning with constancy, a little different every time. It travels outward in waves, in time belonging less and less to its makers. Its witnesses become its caretakers. Please take care of ours.

(1)"Stage lights" quote comes to you from the Mountain Goats song, "The Best-Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton," from their superlative album "All Hail West Texas!"