Do You Love the Sun is the first new Scud Mountain Boys album since Sub Pop released the critically-acclaimed Massachusetts in 1996.
After being out of contact for many years, original Scud Mountain Boys band members Joe Pernice (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Stephen Desaulniers (vocals, acoustic guitar, and bass), and Bruce Tull (electric guitar, lap steel, pedal steel) returned to the scene in late 2011, playing an almost-impromptu reunion in Cambridge, Mass. Soon after, the band had announced more shows and will reissue The Early Year via One Little Indian on 8th July, a compilation of their first two albums Pine Box and Dance the Night Away.
Do You Love the Sun, released on 26th August, fulfills the promise of a full-fledged recorded comeback.
Their latest offering features Joe Pernice's inimitable marriage of exquisitely graceful vocals and a resigned tone that the NME (in a 9 out of 10 Massachusetts review) once described as "the golden voice of damaged, regret oozing from every word like wounded honey... rendering glorious the utter inevitability of failure."
Starting out simply as the Scuds in western Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley in 1991, the group initially cultivated a local following playing loud rock 'n' roll. But after those shows, three members--Joe Stephen and Bruce Tull --would retreat to Bruce's kitchen to unwind, breaking out old country favorites, playing the songs they thought too quiet and too slow for live performances. The band found that these were the songs they really lived to play, so, adding "mountain boys" to their name, the re-christened Scud Mountain Boys played their first public show in 1993.
Though the band was initially lumped in with the alt-country scene helmed by Son Volt, Wilco, and the hordes of other disciples of Hank Williams, the Scud Mountain Boys have always taken their inspiration as such from hooky '70s AM pop as from the dirty country road of Johnny Cash.
For the legions of Scud Mountain Boys that have been holding out hope for a follow-up offering to the brilliant Massachusetts, Do You Love the Sun is a welcome ten track return from a band that has been away for too long.
Pernice on the reforming of the Scud Mountain Boys:
"Raymond "Big Ray" Neades was a good friend and big fan of the Scud Mountain Boys. We'd known him in Northampton, Massachusetts from before the days of The Scuds. He was a simply a great-hearted dude.When Ray didn't show up to my Los Angeles show a couple Falls ago, I thought it was strange. I had spoken to him days before, and we'd made plans to hang out. He always came to my gigs. And he always offered to pay. (I later learned that he'd missed the gig because he'd checked himself into a hospital.) In December I got a call from Joyce letting me know that Ray had died in his sleep the night before. I felt a genuine and thorough sadness, a type that makes the sadness in love songs seem like a trivial annoyance, like a belt that simply needs to be loosened by one notch.
I was talking to one of my best friends Frank Padellaro soon after Ray died. Frank and Ray were certainly best friends and had played in a few bands together. Frank was telling me about a benefit show for Ray's wife that was happening in Boston. I said, "Imagine if the Scud Mountain Boys got back together to play the show for Ray?" Frank said, "That would be fucking Awesome."
But I chickened out. When I quit SMB in 1997, I knew I had ostensibly derailed the band. It wasn't my intention. I just wanted to do other things. Be that as it may, I figured if there was any bridge left it was too charred and compromised to cross. I had not spoken to the other guys (nor they me) in 14 years. Ray's benefit came and went without the Scud Mountain Boys. In the weeks that followed the benefit show, Frank encouraged me to extend the olive branch. He acted as a middle man, and for that I will always be grateful.
After a few emails between the guys and me, I still wasn't sure if they were all down with getting together. I had a solo show scheduled in Boston. Tom Shea had agreed to sit in with me. Bruce was in Oklahoma, so I knew he wasn't going to be there. Stephen was still on the fence. I wrote to him and said, "There'll be a bass rig and a mic set up for you. These are the songs I'd like to do. I'd love it if you'd show up and play. But if you want to move on with your life I'd understand." Well, he showed up. We played six or eight songs. It was like we'd never stopped. I actually think it was understood on that night, after having not spoken for 14 years, that we'd make a new album.
There's a song called "Redemption is a Myth" on the upcoming Pernice Brothers record. I can't say I completely believe that."
Joe Pernice May 2013, Toronto.