For guitar rock fans with a soft spot for the good ole days, this spring is shaping up to be quite the score. Last week, shred lovers had to decide between catching Johnny Marr at the S.B. Bowl and Dinosaur Jr. at Velvet Jones. This week, Built to Spill plays a conflict-free set at SOhO Restaurant Music Club on Wednesday, May 1.
Since forming in 1992, Built to Spill (BTS) has been the brainchild of Doug Martsch, a man who has single-handedly mastered the balance between epically heavy and undeniably catchy guitar noodling. (Incidentally, Martsch cites Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis as one of his major influences.) While Martsch remains BTS’s only constant member, under his guidance the band hasn’t strayed too far from its driving alt-rock roots.
This year BTS celebrates its 21st birthday, as well as the 20th anniversary of its game-changing debut record, 1993’s Ultimate Alternative Wavers. Martsch also recently said good-bye to the band’s longtime rhythm section and ushered drummer Steve Gere and bassist Jason Albertini into the fold. With new members in place, and a milestone impending, BTS appears to be straddling the line between past and future. Last month they took to the stage at Boise’s Treefort Music Festival to perform Ultimate Alternative Wavers in its entirety, and later this year Martsch plans to return to the studio to work on the band’s eighth album — a process that he admits to already starting, and scrapping.
In regard to set lists, Martsch is pleased to report that the new band is revisiting long-lost Built to Spill cuts, as well as some new covers. “We haven’t played ‘The Source’ in years,” he recently told MTV. “We decided early on that it’s coming up on the 20th anniversary of the first album, and the fact that we’re kind of getting started again, it seemed to make sense to learn the whole first record.”
Built to Spill plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Wednesday, May 1, at 8 p.m. with openers Junior Rocket Scientist. For tickets and info, call (805) 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com.