Plus, Talks 'Buried Treasures' In 'L.A. Woman' Reissue & Documentary.
As the Doors begin The Year of the Doors with a 40th anniversary release of 'L.A. Woman' and an accompanying documentary, keyboardist Ray Manzarek says he hopes to spend more time 'Breakin' a Sweat' in the future.
'Breakin' a Sweat' is the surviving group members' collaboration with Skrillex for the upcoming Re:Generation Music Project film, which debuts in theaters Feb. 16. Manzarek says the session 'kicked me in the ass' and tells Billboard.com that it also inspired a few ideas for more Doors involvement in the electronic music realm.
'We might do some stuff in that direction,' Manzarek says. 'What I'd like to do and what might happen is to do some electronic treatments of the songs, of the multi-tracks we have, Robby (Krieger) and I working with different people. That would be a lot of fun. That's the new realm of music, electronics. Electronics can go anywhere, so that's what I'm looking forward to in the future.'
Manzarek says the Doors were asked to play 'Breakin' a Sweat' with Skrillex on this year's Grammy Awards telecast, but the plan was nixed by drummer John Densmore, who plays on the track but remains in 'virtual total incommunicado' with his estranged bandmates. But the keyboardist is confident that the late Doors frontman Jim Morrison would approve of adapting the Doors' music in that manner. 'He'd love it. He was no purist,' Manzarek says. 'His words were his mileau. He might be, 'Don't f*** with my words,' but he'd be open for all kind of improvisations. He loved that stuff.'
While they wait to see what that future brings, Manzarek and the Doors camp will bring out the new version of 'L.A. Woman' and the home video version of 'Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman' on Jan. 24, with the film premiering Friday [Jan. 20] at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The album includes a second disc featuring studio chatter and alternate versions of seven songs, plus a pair of new tracks -- 'She Smells So Nice' and 'Rock Me,' recorded together as a medley -- discovered by co-producer Bruce Botnick, who helmed the anniversary package.
'That's buried treasure, found treasure,' Manzarek says. 'Nobody remembered doing the song. Bruce found it in the outtakes; he listened to everything and said, 'Hey, there's a whole new song here' We said, 'What?' We went down to hear it and it was like, 'S***!' Nobody remembered recording it. It was a total surprise for the Doors, for Bruce Botnick and hopefully for the fans, too.'
Manzarek describes making the 'L.A. Woman' projects as 'very nostalgic' -- and emotional. 'It brings a tear to your eye to hear our brother, man, to hear that last session, to hear Jim in a sort of whiskey growl...And seeing him is like, '...there's my brother, man. He ain't gonna be on the planet no more.' It's very moving.'
Manzarek is mum on what else The Year of the Doors will hold, though he does acknowledge there's 'a bunch of stuff cooked up.' But he doesn't expect any of the group's other albums will be treated in quite the same archival way as 'L.A. Woman.'
'I don't think there's enough outtakes, unfortunately,' he explains. 'We never had a lot of outtakes, really. We went into the studio and did three or four takes and knocked it out and knew what we were going to do. And any outtakes are invariably lesser takes and don't hold anything interesting unless you want to hear Ray Manzarek flub a solo. If that's what you're looking for, we have that, but I can guarantee you don't want to listen to that.'
The word 'Nirvana' has appeared 1,484 times in the pages of SPIN since 1991; Nevermind , 246 times. (Shout-out, bleary-eyed intern Carly!) Both of these numbers will spike considerably after this issue.
Sure, SPIN had been making serious mischief for six years before Nevermind 's release, but the cultural landscape that the album's success reflected (and SPIN had been anecdotally documenting) needed a full-blown soapbox, and we were in a unique position. As with many symbiotic, borderline codependent relationships, ours has gone from tentative entreaties to dizzying obsessions to marriages of convenience to tawdry betrayals. Back in 2001, when we published a tenth anniversary Nevermind issue, one letter-writing wag remarked, "So, still pickin' those bones, huh?"
With this retrospective, we tried to avoid that sort of queasy, pseudo-reverent exploitation, balancing the historical and personal with the playful and forward-thinking. But above all, we just want to say thanks for sticking around and sharing this. See, after all these years, most corporate magazines may still suck, but Nevermind still doesn't, and that's the real issue.
Here's what you can find in our August 2011 issue.
WHAT NEVERMIND MEANS TO ME
Luminaries reflect on Nevermind , from contemporaries like Eddie Vedder, the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, Sleater-Kinney, and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, to present-day rock heroes like the Black Keys, the Black Lips, and Against Me!, to Seattle scenesters of the time, to Dave Grohl himself. As you'll see, the effect the record had on music fans and artists alike is as raw and personal now as it was 20 years ago.
NEWERMIND: A TRIBUTE ALBUM
We tapped some of our favorite contemporary artists to cover Nevermind 's 13 songs, in their original order, from Kurt Cobain's personal faves -- the Meat Puppets and the Vaselines -- to up-and-comers like Telekinesis, EMA, and JEFF the Brotherhood. The download is called Newermind , and it's our gift to you.
THE RAP ON KURT: HOOD PASS 4 LIFE
SPIN hip-hop columnist Brandon Soderberg explores how Nirvana spoke to the rap scene, chronicling the songs inspired by Nevermind .
HOW THE NEVERMIND BOY WAS ALMOST A GIRL
Photographer Kirk Weddle tells the story of an alternate Nevermind album cover that featured a girl baby -- whose identity remains a mystery!
Album's reissue on September 20th.
'To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.'
The remaining three members of the band, singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills, soon chimed in to expand on why they're breaking up now, just six months after releasing their fifteenth album. Mills said the group's latest series of projects helped them come to the decision.
"During our last tour, and while making 'Collapse Into Now' and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, 'what next'?" Mills said. "Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together."
Stipe added in a matter-of-fact way that it was just time to "walk away," though it wasn't an easy decision to come to.
"A wise man once said -- 'the skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave.' We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we're going to walk away from it," he noted. "I hope our fans realize this wasn't an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way."
Buck noted that the members of the band (including long-departed drummer Bill Berry) may be breaking up but "walk away as great friends." He promises to see fans again, "Even if it's only in the vinyl aisle of your local record store, or standing at the back of the club: watching a group of 19 year olds trying to change the world."
Since forming as a quartet in 1980, R.E.M. released 15 studio albums, beginning with their seminal 1983 debut "Murmur." An acclaimed string of albums ("Lifes Rich Pageant," the band's fourth full-length, was given a 25th-anniversary reissue last July) and singles ("It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" highlighted 1987's "Document") followed before 1991's "Out of Time" yielded two of the band's biggest hits, "Shiny Happy People" and " Losing My Religion," the latter of which peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 and won Video of the Year at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards.
The band's eighth studio album, 1992's "Automatic for the People," arguably stands as R.E.M.'s most universally acclaimed full-length, with the ballad "Everybody Hurts" becoming a surprise hit and the Andy Kaufman tribute "Man on the Moon" inspiring the 1999 film of the same name. The band released two more albums, 1994's "Monster" and 1996's "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," before original drummer Bill Berry amicably departed the group in Oct. 1997, prior to the release of 1998's "Up."
After two middling albums, 2001's "Reveal" and 2004's "Around the Sun," R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame upon its first year of eligibility in 2006. The band soon regrouped with producer Jacknife Lee and adopted a fiercer sound for 2008's "Accelerate," which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
The band's 15th studio album, "Collapse Into Now," was released last March, but the group opted not to tour behind the record. "It just doesn't feel right," Mills told Billboard in February. "We've always gone with our gut instinct on everything, and right now it just didn't feel like touring was the thing we needed to do."
"Collapse Into Now" has sold 142,000 copies, adding to the 19.3 million album sales the band has garnered since the SoundScan era began in 1991, according to Nielsen SoundScan.