764-HERO

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764-HERO
OriginSeattle, Washington
GenresIndie rock, emo
Years active1995–2002, 2012, 2016
LabelsSuicide Squeeze, Up, Tiger Style
Associated actsThe Can't See
Members
  • John Atkins
  • Polly Johnson
  • James Bertram
  • Robin Peringer
  • Ken Jarvey

764-HERO was an American indie rock band from Seattle, Washington. They were active from 1995 to 2002 and briefly reunited in 2012 and 2016. The group released three albums on Up Records, a fourth on Tiger Style Records, and several other releases, including a collaborative single with their frequent touring partners Modest Mouse.[1]

The band initially comprised singer and guitarist John Atkins and drummer Polly Johnson. The lineup was expanded with the addition of bassist James Bertram in 1998, followed by his replacement Robin Peringer in 2000. The band's music was frequently likened to that of other groups from the Pacific Northwest,[2][3] and furthermore closely associated with the region, with Pitchfork critic Ryan Kearney calling them "the perfect soundtrack for their homeland."[4] Their music was sparse and emotive, and AllMusic critic Tracey Frey praised the group's "[p]assionate, heart-wrenching lyrics combined with an understated [...] sound."[5]

History[edit]

Formation, Salt Sinks & Sugar Floats and singles (1995–1998)[edit]

The group was formed in 1995 by John Atkins, a Seattle native and member of Hush Harbor, and Polly Johnson of the band Bell Jar. The two met through David Dickenson, Atkins's coworker and Johnson's partner, who would soon found Suicide Squeeze Records.[6] The new group remained nameless until its first show, when a friend recommended that they use the Washington State Department of Transportation telephone number for reporting carpool lane violators.[5][7] The duo debuted with the "High School Poetry" 7" on Up Records later that year.

In the following year, they issued both the "Now You're Swimming" 7" on Suicide Squeeze and their debut album, Salt Sinks & Sugar Floats, on Up. AllMusic critic Ari Wiznitzer described the latter as especially derivative of Pacific Northwestern music in a retrospective review.[2] The group began attracting a national audience, next releasing the We're Solids EP in 1997.

In early 1998, they released Whenever You See Fit, a collaborative single with Modest Mouse. The single's A-side consisted of a single, 14-minute long track that the two groups co-composed and performed while touring together. The B-side contained two remixes, one each by DJ Dynomite D and Scientific American. Spin critic Charles Aaron praised the remixes for "sneakily pulling out the rug so that it feels like you're floating in an indie rock deprivation tank."[8]

As a trio, Get Here and Stay and Weekends of Sound (1998–2000)[edit]

In 1998, the band asked James Bertram from Red Stars Theory, and formerly Lync and Beck, to join them as bass guitarist during a radio session. The session was successful, and Bertram joined the band officially thereafter.[5] The new lineup recorded the band's second full-length record, Get Here and Stay, recorded with Built to Spill producer Phil Ek. PopMatters critic Jeremy Schneyer called the album "the band's high water mark, beautifully marrying Atkins' relentless melancholy with his emerging pop sense."[9] Schneyer added that "[l]ike the watercolor that graced its cover, the music was blurred, but warm and beautiful."[9]

After several tours, the band recorded Weekends of Sound in early 2000, again with Ek. Writing for Pitchfork, Kearney described the album as "their most accomplished work to date," characterized by "crisp production" that made the band "sound richer than ever."[4] The group also released the "Garrison" single on Up this year.

Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere, breakup (2000–2002)[edit]

After a tour of the United States with Modest Mouse in support of the album, Bertram left the band. Robin Peringer, whom Atkins and Johnson had met as a touring guitarist with Modest Mouse, replaced Bertram. Peringer was initially a temporary replacement but soon became a full member.

In 2001, Atkins joined with friend Joe Plummer to perform songs he felt would not fit 764-HERO. The two formed The Magic Magicians and released their debut album Girls later that year.

764-HERO moved to Tiger Style Records for their final release, Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere, and began touring in its support in March 2002. The album name was a reference to Neil Young's album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Writing for loud paper, Antonio Girafez wrote that the album was "beautiful and unsettling."[3] More critically, Pitchfork's Rob Mitchum offered a lukewarm and sarcastic review of the guitar-driven album, describing it as "mediocre" and "boring" yet nonetheless yielding "a handful or two of peachy keen songs."[10] The band broke up later that year, on the eve of their first tour of Japan.[11]

Post-breakup and reunions[edit]

The Magic Magicians continued, releasing their self-titled album in 2003. In 2004, Atkins formed The Can't See with friends Thomas Wright and Ken Jarvey. In 2006 they released Coma Comma no More. Atkins later collaborated with Spencer Moody of the Murder City Devils in the John and Spencer Booze Explosion.

Ten years after disbanding, 764-HERO reunited on March 4, 2012 for a secret show in Seattle. A week later, the band belatedly toured Japan, embarking on five dates with Japanese band Moools. Atkins and Johnson were joined by Ken Jarvey on bass.[11]

The original two-piece lineup reunited briefly in 2016, playing the Suicide Squeeze Records 20th Anniversary Party on August 25. Their two-song set comprised "Now You're Swimming", the first song ever released on the label, and a cover of Elliott Smith's "Division Day".

Band members[edit]

Timeline

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eddie Cepeda (November 22, 2017). "Modest Mouse's Lonesome Crowded West Bridged Indie Rock and Emo". Noisey. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Ari Wiznitzer. "Salt Sinks & Sugar Floats". AllMusic. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Antonio Girafez. "loud paper . 764-Hero Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere". loud paper. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Ryan Kearney (July 18, 2000). "764-HERO: Weekends of Sound". Pitchfork. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Tracey Frey. "764-HERO Biography and History". AllMusic. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  6. ^ Dusty Henry (August 24, 2016). "No Sleaze, All Squeeze". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  7. ^ Sitt, Pam (August 27, 2001). "What a Great Name for a Band!". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  8. ^ Spin, December 1998, "Singles," pp. 170
  9. ^ a b Jeremy Schneyer (May 6, 2002). "764-HERO: Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere". PopMatters. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  10. ^ Rob Mitchum (May 1, 2002). "764-HERO: Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere". Pitchfork. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "764-Hero & Moools Japan Tour 2012". Time Out. Retrieved December 12, 2018.

External links[edit]