Live audio: Adam Hirzel
Audio recording, mix, mastering, and photo: Justin Sinkovich

Come was a pivotal 90’s Boston-based underground rock band. Their dark angular bluesy reverb rock was a perfect fit for their label, Matador.  Despite Come being embraced by dedicated fans and influencing musicians worldwide, their headiness was perhaps not as high profile as some other bands of that vital early indie rock era. 


Come was comprised of the dual guitar interplay of lead singer Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw who would also sing back up or also lead vocals upon occasion.  Bassist Sean O’Brien and drummer Arthur Johnson were the integral founding rhythm section of the band.   O’Brien and Johnson left Come in 1995, so the last two albums featured a variety of indie rock notables including members of Tortoise, Jesus Lizard, and Rodan.  The band became inactive after their 1998 album Gently, Down the Stream.


Thalia and Chris have both gone on to produce a number of well received solo records.  Chris has also formed a number of other bands including The New Year, and has also played guitar for bands like The Lemonheads.  Attendees of the Las Vegas Matador 21 celebration in 2010 saw Come’s original lineup reform and perform, yet it was in 2013 where they began touring again for the re-issue of their classic LP 11:11


Epitonic was privileged to host a performance at saki to play a few classic songs before their club date at the Empty Bottle later that evening -- the photo here is actually from the Empty Bottle show. You can listen to all of the tracks from the Epitonic saki Session that found the band in impressive form, a tribute to what a great band they were, and how they continue to thrive as musicians. Hopefully a new generation of independent music fans will be introduced to their catalog.


Thalia, Chris, and Arthur graciously answered our questions below after their tour, all in different locations, so we kept their answers in their pure and separate state below: 


Epitonic saki Session Questions (answers by Thalia Zedek)


Epitonic: What was the inspiration for Come to reform and play again?

Thalia: It was definitely inspired by the reissuing of Eleven:Eleven by Glitterhouse and Matador, though we had reunited a few times previously when we were asked, just for the fun of it! But we were very proud of the reissue and wanted to tour to raise awareness of it and to "bring it to the people."  

Epitonic: What was it like to play all of those songs? Was it difficult to relearn everything and play shows again?

Thalia: It was a total blast performing all these songs again, but I definitely needed to put a fair amount of effort and time into relearning them. It was kind of like doing a jigsaw puzzle, I would be totally lost and then a few pieces (chords) would fall into place and then the whole song would come back to me. But sometimes it took me awhile to find those first few pieces! 

Epitonic:  It seems like a lot of pivotal bands from that era of independent rock music like Come are gaining a lot of interest again and some are reforming, right? What do you think about seeing these bands gain new fans and play shows again?

Thalia: I think it's really cool and exciting and I wonder if all the new interest is because all of those bands came from an era before everything was documented. So the new fans really have the feeling of having to kind of be cultural archaeologists and dig for this stuff on their own.

Epitonic: What are some of the newer bands that you are into?

Thalia: Fur Purse, Animal Hospital, the Monsieurs, Royal Wedding, and Banditas are some of my new favorite Boston bands! 

Epitonic: Most importantly, now that Come is playing some songs from the old records, can we expect some new songs as well?


Thalia: As of this moment my answer would have to be no. We all have retreated to our respective lairs and lives and have no plans as of now to revive Come as an ongoing concern. But as the great song says, "the future's not ours to see."


[editor’s note: Thalia is quoting “Que Sera, Sera” here, not Eddie Money’s “Baby, Hold On.”]


 

Epitonic saki Session Questions (answers by Chris Brokaw)


Epitonic: What was the inspiration for Come to reform and play again?


Chris: Glitterhouse Records (Germany) offering to reissue 11:11. They had released the album back in 1992, and have long considered it in their "Top Ten Glitterhouse Releases." I've had a long relationship with Glitterhouse (starting with Codeine's first release, in 1990, and again with my band Dirtmusic, starting in 2007) and was really pleased to work with them on this. Happily, Matador Records then offered to release it here in the US. It made sense for us to play some shows to spotlight the reissue.


Epitonic: What was it like to play all of those songs? Was it difficult to relearn everything and play shows again?


Chris: It was really exciting and really natural to play all those songs again. Everything came back to me instantly. I think there was only one song ("Let's Get Lost") where I had to listen to the record to remember what I'd played. It was really thrilling to play this music with these three people. I think all the playing I've done since the ’90s has given me a much better appreciation for how special this particular group is. 


Epitonic: It seems like a lot of pivotal bands from that era of independent rock music like Come are gaining a lot of interest again and some are reforming, right? What do you think about seeing these bands gain new fans and play shows again?


Chris: For me, it totally varies from group to group. Some of them I'm psyched to see. Many of them (especially groups I loved back when) I'm not really interested in seeing now ~ I feel like I saw them at their peak, and I don't really need to see them now. But it's cool for people who never saw them. I loved the Slint reunion — that was probably my favorite of all this stuff, so far. I think it's cool for people to be able to revisit a body of work from a while back and check it out anew. 


Epitonic: What are some of the newer bands that you are into?


Chris: Noisem, Vatican Shadow, Stare Case, Kevin Drumm, Fennesz, Maurizio Bianchi, Rene Hell, Inner Tube, Corrupted, Oren Ambarchi, Pulsar Quartet. Much of what I listen to these days is solo artists, rather than bands, I think. Not sure what that's about!


Epitonic: Most importantly, now that Come is playing some songs from the old records, can we expect some new songs as well?


Chris: There are no plans at all for new songs or recordings. Part of what was unique (for me) about our songwriting process was that it involved hundreds of hours of full-band rehearsal. We all live in different states and it'd be pretty hard for us to work on new music in anything approximating the way we used to write. That said, I'd be excited to create new music with these four again. Thalia and I have discussed the possibility of trying to write even one new song together, and I hope we'll give that a whirl at some point. Someday, some way! (If Thalia can quote Eddie Money, then I'm gonna quote Marshall Crenshaw. That's right.)


--- Chris Brokaw, Seattle, September 2013


 

Epitonic saki Session Questions (answers by Arthur Johnson)

Epitonic: What was the inspiration for Come to reform and play again?


Arthur: Well, we original four members of Come first reunited in 2010 for the Matador Records 21st anniversary shindig in Las Vegas, and at the time we were bothered that 11:11 wasn’t in print any more, or even available for digital download. From there it took us a few years to determine whether the rights had reverted to us, and during that time Glitterhouse expressed interest in rereleasing the record with a bonus live disc. Then Matador signed on, and then it seemed like it would be important (and fun!) to tour to promote the record.


Epitonic: What was it like to play all of those songs? Was it difficult to relearn everything and play shows again?


Arthur: As far as relearning the songs, I listened to live recordings of us from the tours following the original release of 11:11 so I could try and pick up from where the songs had developed to after we had been playing them for a year or more. And what’s really great about our going on tour and playing the songs every night for several weeks is that our renditions of the songs have gained even more dimensions. Really, it has been incredibly rewarding and exhilarating to play with Chris and Thalia and Sean again, and to play these songs again. I couldn’t wait to play “Sad Eyes” or “Let’s Get Lost” each night on our recent European tour—and I found my way back into some songs that I may have lost my connection to back in the day, like “Brand New Vein.”


Epitonic: It seems like a lot of pivotal bands from that era of independent rock music like Come are gaining a lot of interest again and some are reforming, right? What do you think about seeing these bands gain new fans and play shows again?


Arthur: I’m really happy that bands like Dinosaur, Jr., have reformed and are ongoing bands again—and with the original and best lineup! (Obviously that’s important to me.) I’ve listened to Dino’s Beyond as much as any of their earlier records since it came out. And I’m thrilled that Polvo is back, though I haven’t seen them play since they reformed.

Epitonic: What are some of the newer bands that you are into?


Arthur: Well, to be honest, I tend to listen to old stuff more than new stuff. But I fell in love with the band Sad Horse when they opened for us in Portland in June and have been listening to their album Purple on Purple Makes Purple obsessively in the aftermath. Also Less Win, a Danish band that played with us in Copenhagen, and the Subsonics (though they’re not a new band).


Epitonic:  Most importantly, now that Come is playing some songs from the old records, can we expect some new songs as well?


Arthur: There’s nothing planned, but neither are any of us saying “absolutely not” to the idea of working together again. The four of us were never the type of band that could write and record a song on the spot, so putting together a new song would require us to spend more than a little time together, and that’s hard to schedule considering we’re in four different cities and all have other commitments. But we were still working together really well at the end of all of the recent touring, and I feel like we are as good, if not better, friends now as when we started, so there shouldn’t be any lingering acrimony keeping us from reuniting again, should the occasion present itself.