In 1994, D.C. post-hardcore innovators Shudder to Think released Pony Express Record, a polarizing Rubik’s Cube of a major-label debut that becomes, for those who ultimately learn to love it, the best record ever made. While the band’s cocktail of tricky time changes, aggressive guitar bursts, and Craig Wedren’s effeminate falsetto proved inaccessible for the mainstream, many musicians found it utterly compelling — five of whom we profile below.
You might be most familiar with Shudder, knowingly or not, through their work in film and television in the ’90s, from scoring MTV’s cult comedy classic The State to the sprawling First Love Last Rites soundtrack — which saw Shudder to Think writing every song and serving as the backup band, while talents like Jeff Buckley, Liz Phair, and Billy Corgan sang lead vocals — and the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack, for which they wrote two glam-aping songs for the Bowie-esque character played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
After a 10-year hiatus, Shudder to Think reunited earlier this summer at Virgin Mobile Festival (watch video here), and are stringing together a series of reunion gigs spread throughout the fall, with two this weekend in Boston and New York. Maybe you’ll find some of these bands in the audience, as they’re under the influence of Shudder to Think. Juxtapose their tunes with entries in the Shudder to Think canon below.
Often lumped in, unfairly, with some of nu-metal’s most offensive acts, Deftones never made a secret about their affinity for the D.C. scene. When singer Chino Moreno tones things down, and the band strips away the bombast, Deftones bring to mind Shudder to Think’s more delicate side.
They’ve adopted an ungainly number of sounds over the years, but at certain points Incubus definitely looked Shudder to Think’s way, even working a cover version of Shudder’s biggest “hit,” Pony Express Record‘s “X-French Tee Shirt,” into their live sets. Like Shudder, Incubus often embrace jittery time changes and offset their singer’s often effeminate vocals with muscular guitars.
Tim Kasher is known to have touted Shudder as an influence when Cursive was starting out in Omaha in the mid-’90s. Many likened Cursive to Sunny Day Real Estate, but songs like “After the Movies” really lean more towards Shudder to Think.
Frontman Alex Tween is an unabashed Shudder to Think fan, crossing paths with this writer at a number of Shudder-related gigs in recent years. These New Yorkers subscribe to Shudder’s penchant for mathematically challenging rhythms, particularly on last year’s self-titled release.
THE DEAD SCIENCE
This Seattle outfit went as far as to recruit Craig Wedren for guest vocals on their recently-released Villainaire, so you know they dig on Shudder. But their sound is most closely linked to Shudder’s Velvet Goldmine contributions, a bit weird and a bit glammy.