Don’t blink – or you may miss Eyelids!

On November 14, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Eyelids will be gracing the stage at ONCE this Thursday evening.

By Blake Maddux

The Portland, OR-based quintet Eyelids is an indie super group whose members have worked together in various combinations in multiple projects since the mid-1990s.

However, their five individual paths did not converge until 2014, when Eyelids released its debut album, 854.

The lack of a musical alliance among them was not for lack of trying, as singer Chris Slusarenko explained in the recent phone interview with The Somerville Times that continues below.

“We wrote a couple songs, then I joined Guided By Voices and he joined The Decemberists, and we were just kind of like, ‘Well, that’s that!” Slusarenko said, referring to himself and Eyelids bandmate John Moen.

Slusarenko and Moen joined their respective bands in the early 2000s. Since then, Moen has continued drumming for The Decemberists and Slusarenko did a decade-long stint as the go-to collaborator for singer-songwriter Robert Pollard in Guided By Voices, The Takeovers, and Boston Spaceships.

In Eyelids, the longtime friends each sing and play guitar. They are joined by third guitarist Jonathan Drews, bassist Jim Talstra, and drummer Paul “Paulie” Pulvirenti.

The group’s East Coast tour in support of its new album, or, stops at ONCE on Thursday.

The Somerville Times: Can you succinctly sum up how the paths of Eyelids’ members have crossed over the past two decades?

Chris Slusarenko: Everyone in the band has played in different capacities with each other. Jim and John were in the Dharma Bums together. John, Jim, and myself were in The Cavemanish Boys together. Jonathan and John were in Sunset Valley together. Me and John were in Boston Spaceships together with Robert Pollard. John, Jonathan, Jim, and Paulie were all in Jr. High at one point. Jim played bass in my band Svelt. John, Jim, and Jonathan all played in The Minus 5. Jim and Paulie played in No. 2. John played with Elliott Smith. Paulie played with Elliott Smith. It’s really crazy. But never the five of us at the same time.

TST: Which of you were present at the creation of Eyelids?

CS: After John, myself, and Robert Pollard made all these Boston Spaceship records, John and myself really realized that we could communicate really quickly and well because Pollard was wanting two to three albums a year and it was left up to John and myself to play all of the instruments, arrange it, and everything. We just got that really cool secret language down really quickly.

Jonathan was the one who produced all the music for Boston Spaceships. I brought out the old demo of the songs that me and John had recorded and I played it for John and he was like, “Oh, we should do it.” And Jonathan was like, “Well, I want to do it, too.” So the three of us got together on a weekend and just shared songs and came up with the first album just over the weekend.

TST: How did your musical tastes evolve from childhood through your teens?

CS: It pretty much went like Beatles, Kiss, Cheap Trick, Devo, Residents. Then from 1982 on, it was all the great stuff: Black Flag, Husker Du, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat, Replacements, Camper Van Beethoven. And then R.E.M., of course, were so pivotal at turning people on to so many bands.

TST: You have written, recorded, and toured with Robert Pollard in several bands that he has led. Under what circumstances did you meet him and end up joining Guided By Voices?

CS: I met Bob in ’97 at a GBV show … I really just fell in love with the band and we became friends in the meantime. At one point, Bob said if anyone ever quits, you should be in it. And someone left and I came in at like the last couple of years of the band before he broke it up for the first time, in 2004.

So when that ended, we still wanted to keep making music together. So we did two albums [in a band called] The Takeovers that were my music and him singing on them. I wrote and played all the instruments except drums. For the most part it was my songs, and then he would go and write lyrics and then sing over it.

TST: Is it true that the name Boston Spaceships comes from the images that appear on the covers of albums by the band Boston?

CS: Yeah, it does. I don’t even think that I put it together at first. I thought of the city and UFOs. The band Boston has never entered my head, ever. So I wasn’t like, “Oh yeah, like the album covers!”

TST: What led to the selection of R.E.M.’s Peter Buck to produce the new Eyelids album?

CS: I’ve known Peter since 1983. We were pen pals. Before R.E.M. broke, I got a single and I wrote a letter to their P.O. Box. And for the next four years, Peter wrote back to me. I met him in ’84, when I was a kid. He got my family into the sound check and the backstage and everything. He was just very nice and supportive. When met again as adults and just got a friendship through that. Peter has always been a big supporter of the first Eyelids record. Peter understands our language and what we’re doing. These songs are tailor-made for his mind and his ears. It was just kind of a no-brainer.

Eyelids with Jay Gonzalez & the Guilty Pleasures and Corin Ashley. Thursday, November 16. Doors at 6, show at 7. ONCE Somerville, 156 Highland Ave.



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