Tumwater, Washington, might not have turned out as much legendary music as Evergreen State cities like Seattle or Olympia, but it did birth two pioneers of sonic bludgeoning: The sludge-ripping Melvins disciples KARP and DIY art-punk heroes Unwound.
A decade or so after each of those bands melted down, both trios have more or less escaped M.I.A. status. KARP stars in the awesome yet tragic documentary on record and the tour circuit throughout the ’90s—have teamed up to bring their band back from the dead.
Guitarist/singer Justin Trosper, bassist Vern Rumsey, and drummer Sara Lund have launched a website replete with stories, pics, and video and released the double LP Live Leaves. A collection of live performances from their fall 2001 tour, the set features mostly tracks from Unwound’s apex, Leaves Turn Inside You. That album has aged mightily in the years since its 2001 release; its blackened, hallucinogenic dream-pop—awash in warped noise, monumental riffage, and tortured downer vocals—serves as a look at a band on the cusp of destructing.
In honor of Unwound’s return, I talked to Trosper, Rumsey, and Lund—as well as original Unwound drummer Brandt Sandeno (Leaves Turn Inside You contributor and keyboard player on the final tour), Live Leaves second guitarist David Scott Stone, and roadie David Wilcox—about the band’s last days, which found them touring in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
Justin Trosper: This project was supposed to happen after the touring we did in 2001. Of course, as it turned out, we didn’t do anything because the band broke up. So in 2010, we started talking about trying to pull something together for the 20-year anniversary [of the band's formation] in 2011. The archive site idea came about a year ago in hopes of launching it ten years to the date of our last show, which happened on April 1, 2002. We decided to put together live stuff from the last tour and release the full edited video of our last show. Then the offer of the vinyl release came about, and we postponed the whole thing until that could be released.
Anyway, we just wanted to let the world know that we existed. [...]