We’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Billy Barty.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003’s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—five weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell two weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. Last week, we were anxious to discuss the recording progress the band had made, as well as its new YouTube channel and March 13 show at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom. But despite repeated calls, emails and texts, Bissell never got back to us. We thought that he was still pissed at us or that the Wrens were actually hard at work. Turns out that it was neither.
:: Wrens Watch, Feb. 23, 2009
Thanks for finally getting back to us. So have you guys been recording?
We’ve only gotten together twice since we recorded that song you all put up on your site: once without me and once with the four of us, but we just ran over a bunch of Kev’s songs rather than try to record anything. We were supposed to get together again, but one of Jerry’s kids was sick, so he wasn’t able to come and we cancelled practice.
Of course. Has the band been doing anything else?
Well, we had conference calls.
Conference calls for what?
To go over crap since we never see each other.
Jesus Christ. Your band communicates via conference calls?
If we rehearsed or recorded as often as we conference called, we’d make Bob Pollard look like he has writer’s block.
Yes. I’m finally, after about five years, assembling all my pedals. I know that doesn’t sound like much more than a chore, but for me, that was the thing I saved for last, kind of as a reward.
A reward for not recording? Sure, why not. Anything else?
We are playing SXSW. Maybe we should try to rehearse once before that. If we have time, that is. I’m not done assembling all my pedals yet.