Colin Newman of the long-lived British post-punk band Wire says that "the only logical way forward" on the group's latest album, "Change Becomes Us," was to go backwards.
The 13-song set, released in March, features a number of songs that were targeted for the group's "mythical lost fourth album," which appear on the 1981 live album "Document and Eyewitness" but were never taken in the studio. "The idea to (re-record the songs) was first raised back in 2000, and we were like, 'No! Rubbish! Nobody wants to hear that! There's nothing interesting there,' " recalls Newman, 58, who co-founded Wire during 1976 in London. But the prospect of needing some fresh material to play at the 2011 Meltdown festival in London, curated by Ray Davies, led Wire to reconsider.
"We needed to find something special to put in the set," Newman says, and I suggested this song called 'Adore Your Island,' whose only existing recording was on a bootleg from 1979 -- there was no demo, nothing. Technically it's quite difficult, and we thought if we could pull it off, it would show how good the band is now.
"And we did, so after that we started to think, 'So what else have we got there?' We started to look at that material and say, 'Well, maybe we could make a couple of these work,' and one thing led to another and it sounded like a bunch of new songs. It really is a new album. It's the past and the future simultaneously."
But Newman doesn't think Wire will be repeating that exploration of its past in the future. "It's absolutely picked to the bones. There's nothing else there," he says. "Especially 'Document...,' there are a few people out there who are crazy and think it's a great album. It's not a great album; it's quite a poor recording of what was a fairly ordinary performance of half-finished ideas.
"There are a few things in there that developed into something else, but I think when we do something next it will be us writing brand new songs, but I can't tell you how quickly that will come."
Wire performs Tuesday, July 9, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18. Call 313-832-6622 or visit www.mocadetroit.org.
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