Coachella founder and organiser Paul Tollett explained to NME.COM why the legendary shoegazers will not be performing at the Coachella Festival this year.
“I was hanging out with (My Bloody Valentine frontman) Kevin (Shields) over at the Led Zeppelin (reunion concert in December), and he said it was just too early,” Tollett said. “Coachella’s in April and I don’t think they’ll be ready yet.”
Tollett added, “You know it’s hard to get 125 bands into the middle of the desert in April. I’m really excited that The Verve will make it. They’ve been on my list to try to get for years but I never thought they’d get back together.”
As for My Bloody Valentine’s fans in the US, Tollett offered some words of encouragement. “Don’t worry—they’ll come to America.”
UPDATE: The reunion confirmed.
UPDATE: Entertainment Weekly’s Shirley Halperin reports ’it’s definitely happening.’
Is the long wait finally over? My Bloody Valentine, the legendary sonic sculptors of feedback and tremelo who helped define the shoegaze movement only to disband after releasing just two full length albums, is set to make its first live appearance in more than a decade at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA in April, 2008. According to sources in the United States and the United Kingdom who are familiar with the negotiations, the band is close to signing a deal that will see a reunited My Bloody Valentine headline Coachella, scheduled for April 25–27, before embarking on a world tour sometime later in 2008.
A My Bloody Valentine reunion has long been the subject of intense speculation, with a seemingly endless stream of rumors surfacing each year about tours, reissues, DVDs, box sets, and even brand new recordings – but as of today none have come to fruition. The band formed in the mid 1980s and released a series of EPs on various labels before solidifying around the lineup of guitarist/singer Kevin Shields, drummer Colm O’Ciosoig, singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher, and bassist Debbie Googe. After signing to Creation Records, the band released several EPs and two albums, 1988’s Isn’t Anything and 1991’s Loveless, now considered one of the era’s most classic recordings. After a bitter split with Creation, the band signed to Island Records (UK) in 1992, but never produced another release. According to a 1995 interview with Simon Reynolds, the band’s inability to meet their own aesthetic expectations and the financial stress of inactivity led to Shields’ “meltdown.” The rest of the group drifted apart and My Bloody Valentine simply vansihed without ever releasing another album.
In recent years, Shields has been an elusive yet constant presence on the music scene, appearing on recordings and stages with groups like Experimental Audio Research, Curve, Dinosaur Jr, and Primal Scream. His solo work as a remixer and recording artist have appeared sporadically, most notably on the soundtracks for Sophia Coppola’s films Lost In Translation and Marie Antoinette. And in the intervening years, the legend of My Bloody Valentine, a band who’s sound was long considered years ahead of its time, has grown much larger in its absence.
But now some tantalizing hints have emerged in the past few weeks that suggest the band is finally gearing up for a return to action. In July, several fans reported encounters with Shields at Primal Scream and Dinosaur Jr. shows in England, Ireland, and Russia, each returning with the same story: that Shields very matter-of-factly spoke of My Bloody Valentine in the very present tense. The fans reported Shields said that two new My Bloody Valentine releases are in the works – an anthology of unreleased 90s material and an album of brand new studio recordings – along with the imminent release of remastered versions of the band’s original studio work. He is also reported as saying, on several different occasions, that a 2008 tour is in the works that will feature the band’s original lineup. (Read some of the reports here, here, and here.) Furthermore, in an interview published earlier this year in Magnet magazine, Shields was adamant about the band’s return: “We are 100% going to make another My Bloody Valentine record unless we die or something,” he said.
Equally intriguing is the appearance of a new official My Bloody Valentine MySpace page earlier this month, which also links to mybloodyvalentine.co.uk, a website that now has just a generic holding page. In an email with The Daily Swarm, Kevin Shields’ manager, Vinita Joshi, confirmed that the MySpace page is indeed officially affiliated with the band, and that Debbie Googe, the group’s bass player, is actively working on creating the My Bloody Valentine website. Joshi, who is also owner of the Rocket Girl record label and mail order distribution company, has the My Bloody Valentine track “Soon” as the soundtrack to her personal MySpace page. Regarding Coachella and the tour, Joshi wrote, “there are no confirmed shows at all.”
For Coachella founder and musical programmer Paul Tollett, an appearance by My Bloody Valentine would be a major coup, furthering a now international reputation as the booker who persuades much-sought-after disbanded or dormant groups to make their return to the stage at his celebrated festival in the California desert. It would also cap off years of concert industry chatter about Tollett’s burning desire to see the band play at Coachella – and his standing 7-figure offer.
(Update: Tollett will neither confirm nor deny this story. In an email response to The Daily Swarm, he wrote, “I don’t comment on booking because it would make my job difficult responding to every rumor.”)
Coachella has a track record of bringing long-sought iconic 80s and 90s bands out of retirement and launching highly successful and lucrative comebacks. 2004 saw the return of the Pixies; 2005 had Bauhaus, Gang of 4 and New Order; the 2006 appearance by Daft Punk, the duo’s first live gig in over 7 years, was the precursor to this year’s much ballyhooed Alive 2007 tour; this year’s expanded 3-day fest hosted reunions by Crowded House, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Rage Against the Machine, each of which have since been on hugely popular tours.
Still, the list of artists who retain the cultural cache and enough living members to have a legitimate reunion and headline the festival is pretty short. Booking an obvious classic rock band like Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin would certainly make headlines and sell tickets, but Coachella has carved out a unique niche for itself by bringing together less long-lost though no less beloved bands from later generations. With Morrissey having already rejected a multi-million dollar offer from Coachella for a Smiths reunion, there are not many other bands that could truly sit atop the bill. While Pavement, Boards of Canada, Blur, the Afghan Whigs, and The Specials would each be exciting additions to the line-up, and Portishead is much requested on the Coachella message boards (in fact the group is already confirmed for next year’s Coachella, though it won’t be their first reunion performance as they are already scheduled for the All Tomorrow’s Parties event in England this December), none hold the same mystique nor would make as many people drop everything to buy tickets and head to the desert like a reunited My Bloody Valentine.
For My Bloody Valentine, a triumphant return at Coachella – especially if accompanied by quality new recordings and a reexamination of the band’s back catalog – could be worth a small fortune as every promoter and festival in the world will want to book a show. As Tollett explained to Billboard.com last week, “That is a lesson for a band—if you can build yourself to where your show is so great that people are calling everyone around the world saying you got to check that out.”
“I Can See It (But I Can’t Feel It)” – Live in Amsterdam, Feb, 24, 1989
“Glider/When You Sleep” – Live in London, December 15, 1991