Today's Moment of Zen brought to you by the boys in the Wrens (see right). If you don't already love 'em, get prepared for that gushy feeling:
The Wrens get a call in 1989 off their first demo asking if they want to open for comeback band - The Fixx. The catch is that they must sell 1000 tickets. The Wrens fail to sell even 6 tickets and sadly, the Fixx cancel. The ‘80s draw to a close.
The Wrens get a gig as the house band on the on Cape May/Delaware Ferry. The Wrens later get fired after performing the Pixies’ “debaser” to the mostly senior citizen crowd.
The Wrens move to a house in Secaucus, NJ. (The Wrens will continue to live together and record at home for the next 10 years)
The Wrens make their first 7”, Low (1993), and send a copy to Camille Sciara at Grass records/Dutch East India. She offers a deal over the phone, faxes a contract and they are signed in one day - becoming label mates and friends with Brainiac, Toadies and others....
The Wrens issue first full length, Silver (1994), to surprising and wonderful critical acclaim.
The Wrens’ first tour’s first show is in Omaha, Nebraska playing to an overwhelming five-person crowd that includes Robb, Conor, and Todd of the as-yet-unfounded Saddle Creek label/scene (Conor and Todd of Bright Eyes and the Faint respectively). The Wrens and the creek become friends, and over the next few years play many shows together, have many sleepovers, and later issue a split 7" w/ Park Ave on their Saddle Creek label.
Wrens continue to tour domestically & in Europe through 1995 and begin work on follow-up lp.
Grass records is bought from Dutch East India by insane, grudge-bearing millionaire and Chinese food aficionado, Alan Melzter, to acquire the Wrens - now the label’s flagship band. The Wrens release their second full length, Secaucus (1996), for Meltzer’s revamped Grass to even more wonderful critical review.
Halfway into first tour supporting Secaucus, the Wrens are told that if they do not sign their ‘big buck record contract’ all promotion for Secaucus will be stopped. The Wrens, frowning on strong-arm tactics, do not re-sign and as promised, all promotion (including support for a pending tour of Europe with Brainiac) is pulled. The head of the record company, infuriated, commences layoffs of involved record company personnel and vows that “the next band to walk through that door will be made famous - at any cost”. The next band through the door is Creed. Grass Records becomes Wind Up Records. Creed becomes famous at any cost.
The Wrens ditch their really-way-too-big new york law firm representation and spend second half of 1996 and most of 1997 in hilarious courtship ritual with various labels through new attorney.
In the meantime, the Wrens release an ep, Abbott 1135 (1997) for Camille’s new label, Ten 23, and more critical riches follow. The wren’s music is used in several MTV programs, some independent films and a handful of compilation cd’s. And in 1998, they are asked to perform opening night of 1998 World’s Fair, EXPO ‘98, in Lisbon, Portugal.
1998: Interscope Records A&R on hearing the Abbott 1135 ep, continues hilarious courtship ritual. Sadly, A&R gets laid off in ugly corporate merger before signing the Wrens. Happily though, A&R later emerges at competitor label and signs the Strokes.
1999: The Wrens go into hiding to write/ record next record for friends, richard & stephanie reines’ Drive Thru Records. In 2000, Drive Thru cements distribution & money deal with MCA.
Spring 2002: the Wrens emerge with a new full length, the Meadowlands. And wary of more involvement with another major, happily decide to release the Meadowlands in a partnership with good friend, Cory Brown’s Absolutely Kosher Records in the Spring of 2003.
July 2002: the Wrens throw drunken hoe-down to celebrate final completion of the Meadowlands. Party highlights include erasure of all Meadowlands multi-track master tapes.
Fall 2002: Wrens update bio…
(Photo courtesy of Patrick Glennon.)