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Be specific: The Vaselines' Eugene Kelly talks about his group's long-overdue reunion

vaselinesThe Vaselines are back with their first new album in 20 years. (Courtesy of Sub Pop Records)

By Allison Stewart

By the time Kurt Cobain famously praised the Vaselines, calling them his favorite songwriters in the whole world, the Scottish pop band had already broken up. They had released only one full-length disc, 1990's "Dum-Dum," before disbanding, a casualty of main members Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee's romantic breakup.

In their absence, the Vaselines' legend has only grown (having Nirvana cover three of their songs, including "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam," didn't hurt). Kelly and McKee recently reunited to release their first studio disc in 20 years, "Sex With an X."

Kelly, whose band plays the 9:30 Club on Saturday, talked with Click Track about their break up, their solid new disc, and their uncertain future.

How does it feel to have the band back together? Is it like riding a bike?

Yeah, just about. It's been good so far. We're excited it's all worked out. It's lovely so far.

I guess I never understood why you all broke up in the first place.

At the time we had released two singles and one album in the space of three years. What happened was, Frances and I broke up as a couple and the record company had gone bust so the record didn't come out 'til six months after we finished it. And the music scene we were involved in, all the attention seemed to be about Manchester. No one was rushing to give us a record deal. No management was interested, so we kind of figured that was it.

And then Nirvana comes out and gives you a posthumous boost. Did you ever think you broke up too early?

No. There was never any chance of me and Frances getting the band back together. It was too close to [the time we had broken] up, and we were both moving on, doing different things. We were looking to the future, really. We didn't think, "Let's cash in on that."

(Kelly on the band's new disc, and which member made the first move, after the jump.)

Who was the one who made the first move to get back together?

It was really neither of us. Frances released a solo record in 2004 and she asked me to go on tour with her just as an opening act, and maybe play some Vaselines songs. Then we got offered to do a charity show….and we got together [for one night]. It's kind of funny -- I don't think we sat down and had a meeting to discuss it. We never had to talk about it too much.

It seems like timing was the big problem, people appreciating you too late.

Yeah …things just have their natural ending, and it just felt right. We didn't want to go back and do it just for the sake of trying to make some money. We just thought that was it. We had fun doing it but it lasted as long as it lasted.

When you go into the studio, how much allegiance do you feel to the old sound? Do you want to make a classic Vaselines album or a classic Vaselines 2010 album?

We had to not think about it too much, or it would have just destroyed us. Back in the '80s, we were just making an album for ourselves and not thinking about the audience, but this time there was going to be an audience, so we had to disengage from this, and just think we were making it for ourselves…[we] wanted to keep it very simple, keep the songs short and snappy.

It seems like you have an influence beyond what a band with just one album would have.

People are saying that about us, and it's kind of hard for us to see it from the other side. It's like somebody pointing out a person and saying, "That person looks like you." You can't really see it yourself.

Was there talk about this record being a one-off? Or will you see how it goes?

Yeah, we haven't even discussed it. We're making this record and that's as far as we've planned. Sometimes in conversation someone else will say something about the next record, and we just kind of look at each other and don't continue the conversation.


Yeah…we haven't really discussed the next step. We haven't a clue what happens next.

By Allison Stewart  | October 1, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags:  The Vaselines  
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