Shudder to Think
Shudder to Think, 1996. L-R: Craig Wedren, Nathan Larson, Kevin March, and Stuart Hill.
|Genres||Indie rock, post-hardcore|
|1986-1998, 2007-2009, 2013|
|Labels||Dischord, Your Choice, Epic|
|Mind Science of the Mind, A Camp, Hot One|
Shudder to Think was an American indie rock group. Formed in 1986, they released three albums on the Washington, D.C.-based label Dischord Records and were a post-hardcore band, although they drew upon a wide range of stylistic influences, including pop.
The band's first lineup was Craig Wedren (vocals and guitar), Chris Matthews (guitar), Stuart Hill (bass) and Mike Russell (drums). In this incarnation, the band released one song on the Fetal Records compilation F-R-5 in 1987 ("Too little, too late"), two singles and one album (Curse, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses, 1989) before being signed by the Dischord label. Three albums were then released (Ten-Spot, 1990, Funeral at the Movies, 1991, and Get Your Goat, 1992), before the band gained greater exposure by touring with Fugazi and the Smashing Pumpkins; with their May 7, 1992 show in Albig, Germany being released by Tobby Holzinger as Your Choice Live Series Vol.21.
Swiz ex-bassist Nathan Larson (guitars) and ex-Jawbox drummer Adam Wade replaced Matthews and Russell in 1992. Matthews and Russell last performed live with the band on January 1, 1992 and June 28, 1992 respectively, as announced by Wedren to the crowd during those concerts.
The band subsequently signed to Epic, with whom Pony Express Record was released in 1994. The album's angular, mathematical post-hardcore earned it a devoted cult following - especially after the video for the track "X-French Tee Shirt" became a buzz clip on MTV and was regularly aired on the channel, as well as an article in Rolling Stone. The track also peaked at #36 on the Radio and Records Alternative chart.
Over the next few years, Wedren successfully battled Hodgkin's Disease, Larson recorded an album with side project band Mind Science of the Mind, and Wade left the group. He was replaced by Kevin March, formerly drummer with Dambuilders.
They released another album, 50,000 B.C., in 1997. The band also worked on music for soundtracks including First Love, Last Rites and High Art. In 1998, the band wrote and performed two songs for the film Velvet Goldmine.
However, 1998 marked Larson's departure and the end of the group. Wedren has pursued a solo career, including an appearance on the Down to You soundtrack with "Didn't Mean to Do You Harm", and contributed backing vocals to Verve Pipe's 1999 eponymous album.
Both Larson and Wedren have gone on to create highly regarded music for films. David Wain, founder of comedy troupe The State, was a high-school friend of Wedren's, and Wedren's music has appeared in many television series and films stemming from the troupe and its alumni, such as Reno 911! and Wet Hot American Summer. Wedren also makes solo music, and released his debut album, Lapland, in 2005. Larson has formed a new band called Hot One.
Wedren, Larson, and March performed a brief set together on September 17, 2007 at The Mercury Lounge in New York City. The band continued to perform shows throughout 2008 and 2009 with March playing the eastern dates and Wade on the western dates. The band released a live album entitled Live from Home in 2009. Without Larson, the band played what was billed as a "final" show on September 2, 2009 at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City.
Shudder to Think reunited again in 2013 for the 20th anniversary of the Black Cat venue. In addition to a full set by the Pony Express Record lineup of Wedren, Larson, Wade and Hill, earlier members Chris Matthews and Mike Russell performed on the encore.
Shudder to Think has been listed as an influence by other bands - Incubus went as far as covering part of "X-French Tee Shirt" in their song "Nowhere Fast" during Lollapalooza in 2003.Jeff Buckley also listed Shudder to Think as a favorite band of his.Pearl Jam also invited Shudder to Think to open for them on a tour of Australia in 1998, and even played a snippet of the Shudder song "Pebbles" during their set.Deftones have cited Shudder to Think as an influence and have even covered bits of "X-French Tee Shirt" and "So Into You" at live shows. Cursive mentions the band in their song "Sink to the Beat" off their EP, Burst and Bloom.
The band, which has been classified as post-hardcore, embraced "pop influences and a skewed sense of songwriting" while coming from a hardcore punk background "courtesy of their affiliation" with Dischord. Reviewer Charles Spano characterized some of the band's work as the result of the group skewing "their pop brilliance with Ric Ocasek grooves, a [David] Bowie and [...] Roxy Music glam bent [...], and the theatrics of Queen."
"Look at a band like Shudder to Think and a song like 'X-French Tee Shirt,' which was such a great song, because [the middle part] was one note, and he was singing two octaves over that."
"Shudder to Think, I think, is a wholly original, amazing rock band. They're a rock band but they're totally different than what you've heard before in the guitar playing, the drumming, the bass, singing, it's all amazing. If you listen to a Shudder to Think record, you might be able to point to a few references but there's no way you could tag that band. And they're good, they write good songs. They're totally original."