Going as far back as what seems like my senior year of high school, I got into a band from Washington D.C. called Shudder To Think. Not particularly because I liked them a whole lot at the time I was introduced to them; rather because they opened up for Fugazi at a time when I was wholly impressionable. But Shudder To Think grew on me in a way I really didn’t understand.
At the time, Shudder To Think was signed to Dischord Records, and seemed to represent the “sore thumb” aspect of the label’s roster. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to describe their sound in relation to Fugazi, Jawbox, Circus Lupus or any other band on the Dischord roster at the time. Weird time signatures, falsetto voice-overs; stuff that I really didn’t comprehend at the time. But the music was catchy. Even if they did have songs I couldn’t begin to understand about “riding sexy horses” or “Jewish cuckoo birds,” I was into it.
My relationship with Shudder To Think blossomed up to their major label debut for Epic Records in 1994. Their sound got stranger and I understood what they were doing even less, but I loved it nonetheless. Their debut for Epic, ‘Pony Express Record,’ is still one of my all-time favorite records, and to this day, I can dig it out and appreciate its weirdness just as much as the first time I ever heard it.
I don’t know what happened after ‘Pony Express Record’ though. I didn’t exactly lose interest. I still bought their two final albums for Epic, but something was missing. You know when you have a friend that you’re cool with, and then one day, you just stop hanging out with them as much as you used to? That’s kinda what happened with me and Shudder To Think. No exact reason; we just slowly grew apart. The band’s lineup morphed multiple times, I discovered alcohol, etc, etc.
Shudder To Think broke up not soon after their third album for Epic. I think it was a movie soundtrack to the film ‘First Love, Last Rites,’ but by then I was a distant fan and not overly upset. Not long after, Craig Wedren (vocalist, guitarist for Shudder To Think) was diagnosed with cancer, and seemed to take a break from playing music. Thankfully, he recovered and started scoring music for all sorts of TV shows and films, but not much on the commercial front was being sold with the ‘Ex-members of Shudder To Think’ tag attached to it, and we as friends (me and Shudder To Think) grew slowly apart.
Put about 10 years time between that last paragraph and the next one….
Last week, something strange happened. I found Craig Wedren’s newest solo album in a used bin in Red Bank, NJ for $6. I bought it, thinking, “Hmm, this might be interesting,” and have been enraptured by it all week long. But it didn’t end there. He’s still a NY resident, and is playing out all this weekend all over the city starting last night. So I took another gamble on someone that did so much for me at an impressionable age, and again, it was amazing. He played songs off of the new album, along with what are classic at this point Shudder To Think songs; songs I never thought I’d ever hear performed live for the remainder of my life. And it was amazing.
Which brings me to my long drawn out point: Maintain relationships with people or artists that affect you. (And when I say “affect,” I mean in a positive light. If they “defect” you, or rather, affect you in a negative light, f- ’em.) I slacked for close to 10 years on the Craig Wedren/Shudder To Think relationship, and though I’m glad I took a chance and gave it another go, I still feel unsettled that I took so much from Craig Wedren/Shudder To Think, and then threw them away when I wasn’t benefitting from the relationship anymore. Only to come back into the fold and get thrown on my ass with how utterly amazing a voice, some guitar effects and a vision can be.
Now where is that Spin Doctors CD?