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EXCLUSIVE: New Song from Buffalo Tom


Alt-rockers Buffalo Tom have a new record out March 8 called Skins, and it’s a solid set of taut guitar pop and earnest wordplay — exactly what made some of their ’90s efforts, like Big Red Letter Day and Let Me Come Over, into college radio staples. Download their new song “Guilty Girls” below.

“It’s a real Buffalo Tom kind of song, and could sit right next to a lot of what’s on Big Red Letter Day,” says singer-guitarist Bill Janovitz. “But the lyrics have a more wizened perspective on things, and I think that’s the biggest difference in our writing… I think that song has to do with people finding themselves in weird romantic complications at our age group.”

For co-songwriter and bassist Chris Colbourn, the lyrical tone of the song, and Skins as a whole, is “darker and sadder” than he and Janovitz actually think themselves to be. But he also worries that the dolorous vibe might be something beyond his control. “I was reading an article the other day in The Economist called ‘The U-Bend of Life: Why, beyond middle age, people get happier as they get older,'” he tells SPIN. “I don’t know if that’s really true, but it said, ‘The nadir of your life will be when you’re 46.’ I’m 46!”

But in spite of the growing candle count on their birthday cakes, they were inspired by the successful return in 2010 of one of their contemporaries, Pavement. “It’s astounding to me that this band who had certainly achieved quite a bit in their career, especially considering the kind of esoteric music they play, could play such huge venues on their reunion,” says Janovitz. “To see that was so awesome in the true sense of the word.” But he couldn’t help but offer up a bit of self-deprecation in comparing Buffalo Tom to the California indie act: “We don’t have that sort of level of interest, mostly just people that are trying to get babysitters.”

Buffalo Tom are also adopting 2011’s techniques for promoting their music, including giving it away for free, something that feels right, given their history. “I will say that in the middle of it, during the era when we were touring our most and recording at our highest level, to give music away would have probably perplexed us,” says Colbourn. “But we came in at the point where it really was vinyl singles and indie labels. We gave away everything, when we first started, and we played for no money for so long — that was sort of the basic idea.”

The band will promote the new release with some dates in Europe this March, and plan to schedule U.S. gigs later in the Spring, booking them around their day jobs: Colbourn is a talent agent, and Janovitz is in real estate, and says he’s cut from the same cloth as Phil from the hit ABC sitcom Modern Family.