Wrens members split, Kevin Whelan releasing new songs as Aeon Station via Sub Pop
UPDATE: The first Aeon Station song has been released.
We've been waiting for the new The Wrens album for almost two decades, and while Charles Bissell continues to tinker with his contributions to The Meadowlands' follow-up, the band's other songwriter and singer, Kevin Whelan, has taken the songs he wrote for the album, added more, and is releasing them as an album, Observatory, under the name Aeon Station. Whelan says the album “sounds like a band but isn’t.”
According to a feature in The New York Times, Whelan plays almost every instrument on the album, but it also features contributions from his Wrens bandmates Greg Whelan (his brother) and Jerry MacDonald, but not Bissell.
Part of this stemmed from not wanting to wait anymore for Bissell to finish his songs, and the article notes that a completed album was given to Sub Pop in 2013 but that Bissell then backed out. “The songs were great,” Whelan told the Times. “But I always say that. I’m that guy. He’s the other guy. I’m good with the third take, he’s like, I need three years of takes."
The New York Times writes that in 2019, "Bissell declared the album fit for release. But first, he wanted to work out 'internal band stuff' and this is when, after more than 30 years of calling themselves a band, the Wrens unraveled." More from the article:
Nobody in the group wants to air dirty laundry, but the nature of the dispute seems clear enough. The original model of four equal partners no longer represented the present reality. Bissell wanted a new business arrangement that reflected not only the work he put into the songs but the band website he built, the social media presence he maintained, all the ways he has kept up the profile of the Wrens over the years while the others pursued outside careers.
“Charles wanted to feel more understood, more heard about what he contributed,” Whelan said. “I was never against that, but when we started talking about how to do it, it got very drawn out and complicated.”
And as it dragged on, Whelan decided he was done waiting.
According to the Times article, since Whelan told Bissell about the Aeon Station album two months ago, the two have not spoken. Bissell says while he initially saw this as being "The Wrens are done," he told the Times that he wrote more songs this summer to go along with the eight songs that were already finished, so we now may get a new Wrens album that comes in two parts.
Aeon Station's Observatory will be out December 10 via Sub Pop. No music has been released yet -- stay tuned. UPDATE: We didn't have to wait long to get the first song.
The Wrens' Secaucus is getting reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day Black Friday.