Luke Haines and Peter Buck. Luke Haines and Peter Buck.
The mind immediately searches for transatlantic flips of this arrangement. Anton Newcombe and Graham Coxon? Errrr, Thurston Moore and Bonehead?
The full story of how this decidedly odd couple got together is everywhere, and you can read it in Haines’s own words here.
In short, Buck bought a Haines Lou Reed painting, and they started a penpal album project.
As the guitarist in REM, Peter Buck sold a squillon records. With The Auteurs, Luke Haines did not (but absolutely deserved to).
Since REM split in September 2011, Peter Buck has released three solo albums and worked with a bunch of people on various stuff.
The same month REM split, Luke Haines said: “I’m not questing for a commercial breakthrough.”
Looking at the list of music he’s released since then, you’re inclined to believe him.
- a psychedelic concept album about British wrestling in the ’70s/early ’80s
- a 42-track double CD alternative musical history of the British Isles recorded with Cathal Coughlan and Andrew Mueller
- a concept album that reimagines Gene Vincent as a cat, Jimmy Pursey as a fox, and a badger called Nick Lowe
- a concept album about New York rock ‘n’ roll in the ’70s
- a synth-based concept album about disused British nuclear bunkers
- a micro opera about caravanning and Mark E Smith
- the non-concept “Ritual Magick agit prop call to arms” Smash The System
- a magazine giveaway instrumental drone-based meta concept album
- a psychedelic adhesive-fixated concept album
All of these records are varying levels of brilliant. Especially the animals one.
All (except the Electronic Sound mag freebie Freqs) are free to listen to on Spotify. It’s 2020. Click. Listen. Enjoy.
But now he’s hooked up with Peter Buck. Peter Buck. So we’re half expecting a mix of that razor sharp Haines wit mumble-mumble-mumbled over some jangle, maybe with some New Adventures in Hi-Fi FX thrown over the top, right?
Despite Buck co-writing every song and laying down track after track of guitars (and Fifth REMmer Scott McCaughey playing bass), this is for all intents and purposes a Luke Haines album.
The beefiest, punchiest Luke Haines album since After Murder Park, probably, but a Luke Haines album all the same.
So of course it opens with a song about the Aleister Crowley-inspired (and L Ron Hubbard-inspiring) rocket engineer Jack Parsons who died in a lab explosion aged 37. Of course there are songs about Bigfoot hunters, Johnnie Ray, and the essential unpleasantness of Andy Warhol.
And of course, it’s great. It’s thwack after thwack of hooky, ridiculous, singular, rock ‘n’ roll insanity.
Even after joining forces with a guitarist who sold more than 85 million albums, Luke Haines still isn’t questing for a commercial breakthrough. Thank fuck for that.
Luke Haines & Peter Buck – Beat Poetry For Survivalists is out now on Cherry Red.
Luke Haines and Peter Buck are actually going to be in the same room together playing it on tour in April.