Wrens Watch, Jan. 19, 2009

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 Eddie Gaedel.) 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—who released “Pulled Fences,” their first new song since 2003’s The Meadowlands. Granted, it was a track they recorded last year for a radio broadcast—and one they basically made up on the spot—but with these dudes, we’ll take what we can get. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something new, the band is convening this week to begin work on its new album. We checked in with Bissell to see how things are going.

:: Wrens Watch, Jan. 19, 2009
MAGNET: All of your albums were slow to get started, recording-wise, because you don’t live close to each other and you record at your own leisurely pace in home studios. Surely you guys have been getting together regularly to work on the new album.
Bissell: Uh, all four of us will be in the same room this week to record for the first time in a decade. Although that Jerry hasn’t replied to my email asking what time he’ll be up here probably means he didn’t pay his AOL bill again and doesn’t know we’re supposed to be recording this week.
How professional. So what studio are you recording in? No matter where it is, it will be better than having to do the album at Kevin’s house.
Let’s see … It’ll be at Kev’s house, because there’s the full basement to have drums and stuff.
Where will you do overdubs? I remember you used to do them at your house in Jersey, but now that you live in Brooklyn, I’m sure you have some state-of-the-art place in New York lined up.
I’ve got stuff at my house to do overdubs on these recordings. So it’s still Jersey produce.
Huh? Still Jersey produce? Actually, never mind. I’m sure you’re just a little loopy from having been writing non-stop for the new record. You told me this summer you planned on having twice as many songs ready to record as Kevin. But he actually told me that he has done demos for more than 100 songs. I know you don’t have 200 songs ready, right?
[Unintelligible]
What? I couldn’t hear you.
I have a little under two songs.
Two hundred?
No, just plain two. But that’s only a slightly greater spread than going into most of our records.
But I thought this new album was supposed to be different. You said you were going to start acting like a real band and record on real equipment and not fall back into the same routine.
All of the equipment is new. Much of it is used and bought on Craigslist and eBay, but it’s still new … to us.
So absolutely nothing is different this time around?
Not true at all. This one is going to be recorded totally differently than all our other records. That’s part of what took so long to get started.

Wrens Watch, Jan. 12, 2009

wrenswatch922We’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 Charles Sherwood Stratton.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, last Friday marked a huge milestone for the guys—guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald—who released “Pulled Fences,” their first new song since 2003’s The Meadowlands. Granted, it was a track they recorded last year for a radio broadcast, but with these dudes, we’ll take what we can get. We checked in with Bissell to discuss “Pulled Fences.”

:: Wrens Watch, Jan. 12, 2009
MAGNET: We hadn’t had to do a Wrens Watch Special Report since 1997, when Jerry was caught in the Mercury Lounge bathroom with those two underage NYU lacrosse players.
Bissell: On the advice of our attorney (Greg Whelan), we still have no comment about that. Besides, Jerry was cleared of any wrongdoing.
His wife and kids must be so proud. Anyway, congrats on “Pulled Fences,” the first new Wrens song in five years. On initial listen, I thought it was great. So Kevin sang and wrote it?
Yes. And thanks. It was a lot of work finally getting it out. I mean, I have a kid now, and my wife just went back to work. A lot of late nights.
So you keep saying. Listening to “Pulled Fences” a second time, I realize it’s almost like Kevin brought in some half-finished demo for the rest of the band to try and play along to. That’s not actually the case, is it?
The main thing with the song is that we made it up on the spot, more or less: parts, approach, arrangement. A song of Kev’s but only he knew it or ever heard it. He copied the chords down, and the recording is that first time any of us are hearing it, too.
So we waited five years for a new Wrens song and you guys just decided to wing it? Jesus, I spent almost a dollar on it. I mean, Bob Pollard sends MAGNET cassettes full of songs more thought out than that. And for free.
We’d vowed years ago that if we ever played on The Tonight Show, we would make up a song on the spot. As that hasn’t happened yet, we thought a live radio/internet broadcast from Abbey Road with multi-track recording would be pressure enough.
The Tonight Show? You’ve got to be kidding me. Maybe when you get off your asses and finally start recording your new album, you can invite Jimmy Kimmel over and pretend to jam with Pete Best. If it’s not too much pressure.
Have you heard the “Pulled Fences” hidden bonus track? It sounds like this. [Hangs up]

Wrens Watch Special Report, Jan. 9, 2009: New Wrens Single Out Now!

wrenswatch922We’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 Hervé Villechaize.) Each week, we check in with guitarist/vocalist Charles Bissell to find out just what exactly the quartet hasn’t been up to.

:: Wrens Watch, Jan. 9, 2009
We were duped. It’s now obvious that the man who said he was Bissell’s father in Monday’s Wrens Watch was actually Bissell himself using a fake, overtly homophobic voice. He knew that we were close to breaking the story about a new Wrens single, and he just couldn’t let that happen. Well, Tricky Bissell almost got away with it, but he wasn’t accounting for our mole at Apple, S. Paul Jobs, tipping us off at the last minute. (Job well done, Jobs.) Available now on iTunes is “Pulled Fences,” a great midtempo number sung by bassist/keyboardist Kevin Whelan. The Wrens recorded it last year at Abbey Road Studio in London for satellite radio’s Live At The WorldSpace Sessions At Abbey Road. When we contacted Bissell to let him know that we aware of “Pulled Fences” and planned to stream it on our site, he had guitarist Greg Whelan (a former judge) hit us with a temporary restraining order. When we told Bissell that we have photos of a certain incident that occurred in the bathroom at the Khyber in Philly back in 1995, he promised that he would be providing Wrens Watch with “plenty” of exclusive audio for the MAGNET site in the very near future. Bissell also said that fans might want to go to the band’s website later today, as he and wrens.com webmaster William H. Gates are implementing some major changes. About freaking time.

Wrens Watch, Jan. 5, 2009

wrenswatch922We’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 Danny DeVito.) Given their propensity for not even updating their website (the most recent entry is promoting a Charles Bissell solo show on December 11), we decided to take matters into our own hands to keep fans up to date with the latest Wrens news. Each week, we’ll check in with Bissell to find out just what exactly the quartet hasn’t been up to.

:: Wrens Watch, Jan. 5, 2009
MAGNET: Hello, Charles?
Mr. Bissell (Charles’ dad): No, this is Chuck’s old man.
Oh, hey, Mr. Bissell. We met at Wrens show in Philly once. Been friends with Charles for a long time now.
Charles doesn’t have friends. He’s fat and he’s stupid.
Uh, excuse me?
That’s from Throw Momma From The Train. Funny fucking movie. That Danny DeVito is from Asbury Park, you know? Funny as fuck on Taxi. You never saw DeVito in Throw Momma From The Train? Not artsy fartsy enough for you? What, you like those Jim McGreevey Brokeback Cowboy movies, do you? Fucking figures. That’s the kind of crowd Chuck’s band gets. It’s a fucking shame.
OK then. Well, is Charles around? I have to talk to him for this week’s Wrens Watch.
Is that that gay thing you do on the computer? I saw that one where you were talking shit about Chuck’s kid—my fucking grandson, mind you—on the computer. I should come over there right now and kick your ass for that shit.
Well, no offense, Mr. Bissell, but I can see where Charles gets his mouth from.
Is that so, pussy boy? Go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut. Call back here again, and I’ll kick your McGreevey ass. [Hangs up]

Check in next week to see what’s going on in the wild and wacky world of the Wrens.

Wrens Watch, Dec. 29, 2008

wrenswatch922We’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 Peter Dinklage.) Given their propensity for not even updating their website (the most recent entry is promoting a Charles Bissell solo show on December 11), we decided to take matters into our own hands to keep fans up to date with the latest Wrens news. Each week, we’ll check in with Bissell to find out just what exactly the quartet hasn’t been up to.

:: Wrens Watch, Dec. 29, 2008
MAGNET: I thought after how poorly things went the last time, we could start with an apology. Cool?
Bissell: Cool.
[
Silence]
I’m waiting.
Waiting for what?
[Singing in a dead-on Lou Gramm voice] For a girl like you to come into my life. [Pause] For your apology, Charles. What do you think?
Hold on a fucking sec. You said you were gonna apologize.
No I didn’t. Fine, don’t apologize for being a jerk. But you can apologize to your fans for taking so long between albums. I mean, the first seven-year gap between records was kind of endearing and cute. This one is just kind of pathetic and sad.
You mean pathetic and sad like it taking MAGNET until almost 2009 to have something that resembles a real fucking website? Welcome to the ’90s, douchebags.
You kiss your son with that mouth? You probably do, because I can certainly see that you aren’t using that mouth to sing any new Wrens songs.
[
Pause] Wait, you hear that sound? Know what that is? That’s me hanging up on you again. Go fuck a duck, cocksucker. [Hangs up]

Check in next week to see what’s going on in the wild and wacky world of the Wrens.

Wrens Watch, Dec. 22, 2008

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 Gary Coleman.) Given their propensity for not even updating their website (the second most recent entry is promoting a Charles Bissell solo show on September 4 to raise money for Obama’s bid for the White House), we decided to take matters into our own hands to keep fans up to date with the latest Wrens news. Each week, we’ll check in with Bissell to find out just what exactly the quartet hasn’t been up to.

:: Wrens Watch, Dec. 22, 2008
MAGNET: Charles, this summer you told me that the new Wrens album would be done this fall. Now that it’s been more than five years since The Meadowlands, can you tell me if the follow-up is finally done?
Bissell: [Defensively] When we start recording—or when we’re about to—I promise, you will literally be the first outside the band to know.
Wait, so you mean you haven’t even started recording yet?
[Silence]
Charles, are you still there?
[Silence]
Hello? Charles?
I need to go. I have a fucking kid now, so I don’t have time for this bullshit of yours. I have to go to the fucking music store and buy some new fucking cords for my guitar. And I have to move the fucking van to the other side of the street before it gets a fucking ticket I won’t be able to fucking afford. [Hangs up]

Check in next week to see what’s going on in the wild and wacky world of the Wrens.