Rain Men

Don't let the downpour fool you. Aveo's clever pop is far from overcast.

Both Mendel and Goldsmith went on to become founding members of the Foo Fighters, but they aren't the only luminaries Hudson has made music with. Jake Plummer of San Diego's lauded Black Heart Procession tried out for the spot vacated by Goldsmith -- although he almost lost out to a novice named Jeff MacIsaac. "When Jeff tried out, he was this little punk kid who had only been playing drums for six months," Hudson remembers with a laugh. "I was really insistent that we not play with him." But within a year, the two were in a group together, a band that eventually morphed into Aveo.

"We started out as this pop-punk band, but that didn't really work. I had met William [Wilson] at the time, but I never knew that he was a musician. One day he picked up a guitar and sang something, and I was like, 'My God, why aren't you in a band?' He said he didn't really want to, but I dragged him out and made him play with us."

After forming in earnest in 2000 and releasing Northern Lights, Aveo -- having named itself after the Latin word for "desire" -- started canvassing the country and igniting a buzz about its stunning, passionate live shows, often augmented by auxiliary member Ken Jarvey on keyboards, second guitar and accordion. Soon after, Death Cab for Cutie offered the group an opening slot on one of its tours, which led to a record deal with Death Cab's label, Barsuk Records. At that point, though, Aveo had hit a wall. "Our songwriting process had really slowed down," says Hudson. "We just could not get it together. Battery was originally supposed to come out in January 2003, but by May we had only finished a demo of half the songs. We really screwed up Barsuk's schedule; at that point, they were like, ŒGosh, we don't know if we're even going to be able to put this out.'"

The boys with the thorns in their sides: Mike Hudson 
(from left), William Wilson and Jeff MacIsaac are 
Aveo.
The boys with the thorns in their sides: Mike Hudson (from left), William Wilson and Jeff MacIsaac are Aveo.

Fortunately, though, Aveo pulled through, and Battery-- recorded by Phil Ek, noted producer of Built to Spill and Modest Mouse -- came out in early 2004 after an almost two-year lull in the band's activity. "Everything died down for a little while, but things are rolling along now," Hudson says, currently preparing for his second U.S. tour in as many months. "We're concentrating now on getting our name out there and letting people know who we are -- all those dumb things that we never really cared to think about before. When you're a little band like us, people just forget."

Not very likely. Still, even a band as distinct and indelible as Aveo needs to crawl out of its shell and get some sunlight every once in a while. After all, who wants a reputation as a sad, introverted, misanthropic shut-in?

"I wouldn't call ourselves depressed or mopers or anything like that. I don't think that's our deal at all," declares Hudson. "We never sit down and say, 'We're going to write this sad song.' But sometimes it does make us wonder, 'Wow, that's what's coming out of us. Aren't we screwed up.' There's obviously this real melancholy side to us.

"Sometimes," he deadpans, "we like to blame it on the weather out here. That's a really simple way to explain it: It rains all the time in Seattle." In fact, the liner notes of Battery state, with a poetic inflection worthy of Morrissey, himself that the album was recorded "on some of the rainiest days of winter '03." And on the track "Frostbitten," a grim elegy celebrating hypothermia and solitude, Wilson moans like a dejected lover left too long out in the cold: "The rain followed you to bed/And soaked the sheets through/Before the angels know what you did/When showers came down to clean your soul."

Bed-wetters of the world, unite and take over.

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