It's something of a power-pop mystery: Seattle-based quartet The Posies called it quits in 1997 after a farewell album and a "Last Waltz" performance in San Francisco. Now the band's two head members, singer-guitarists Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer, have lined up dates for an acoustic Posies tour.
To coincide with the tour, a live acoustic Posies album, "In Case You Didn't Feel Like Plugging In," is being prepped; a Posies retrospective, "Dream All Day," was released earlier this year; and a boxed set of rarities and outtakes is currently in the works. So has the band truly split up?
"There's two ways to answer that question, I suppose," Stringfellow told MTV News. "One is the live and recording rock band that was The Posies, featuring Jon and I and different bass players and drummers over the years, which will highly unlikely ever become active again.
"On the other hand, an argument could be made," he continued, "that Jon and I, being the founding and
the only consistent members of the band over the years, are still doing stuff together; that would constitute us being... something. Although we don't plan to make any records.
"I wouldn't say that we are an active, creative, going-to-be-writing-together-and-making-albums-together thing," Stringfellow offered. "Really, this is just a one-time tour for fun, but the rules could change anytime."
Fans who catch the guys on the road this summer can expect to hear, Stringfellow says, "everything from our records and whatnot." The live album should be available (via the Casa Recordings Co. label) in time for the tour, and the boxed set, the singer-guitarist said, is scheduled to be released soon afterward; it looks to be an intricate affair.
"I think it's called 'At Least... At Last' -- I always get it confused," said Stringfellow of the boxed set. "That's a four-CD compilation of outtakes and live tracks, demos, and things like that, coming out on the Not Lame label.
"It's got a pretty deluxe booklet, and it's kind of in the same shape as The Zombies ['Zombie Heaven'] boxed set," Stringfellow explained. "I think only two of the 66 tracks have ever been released."
One rarity that squeaked out earlier this year on the "Dream All Day" compilation released by the band's former label, Geffen/Universal, was its cover of "I Am The Cosmos," a solo track by Big Star guitarist Chris Bell, who was killed in a car crash in 1978; meanwhile, The Posies' connection to the legendary '70s pop band continues to extend beyond the occasional cover.
Stringfellow and Auer have moonlighted as Big Star bandmembers at various reunion shows with original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens since the early '90s, with the lineup captured on the 1993 live album "Columbia." This year, they've got a date lined up for the annual Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, which takes place over Labor Day weekend.
"Big Star are playing with Jon and I this year,"
Stringfellow said of Bumbershoot 2000. "The Posies have been playing this festival in some form or another since our inception. '88 was our first time, I think."
While compilations and acoustic appearances have kept The Posies' name alive, both Auer and Stringfellow have been busy with solo projects in the last few years.
Other than the release of a Stringfellow solo album, "This Sounds Like Goodbye," in 1997, "There's been the Saltine thing," he offered. "That's been my main project for the last year or so. We put out a 7" on the Casa label. I'm working on a record right now with Mitch Easter, tentatively under the name Saltine, although the live band that I played with for the last year are not on it. It's just me and a local drummer, and a bass player who plays with Patti Smith, Tony Shanahan.
"Really, it's me, pretty much," he concluded, "so I'm not sure. Some voices say it just be a Ken Stringfellow record."
The other head Posie, Jon Auer, has maintained
a lower profile while he works on solo projects of his own.
"He put out a 'Jon Auer' 7" in Spain on the Houston Party label," said Stringfellow, "and I think he finished his EP that he is going to put out [in Spain]. I don't know if he has any plans to release it over here.
"[Auer] was playing guitar for a band called Lucky Me that kind of segued from the Posies," Stringfellow added. "They did this full-on record for Revolution Records, and of course, the label pretty much folded before it ever came out. That project became kind of mysterious."
Some of the mystery surrounding Auer and Stringfellow will lift when the acoustic Posies tour kicks off at the end of the month. Here's where to catch them on the road:
- 7/28 - Redmond, WA @ The Old Firehouse
- 8/1 - Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
- 8/2 - Bellingham, WA @ Showoff Gallery
- 8/4 - Olympia, WA @ Metropolis
- 8/5 - Portland, OR @ Berbati's Pan
- 8/6 - San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music
- 8/7 - San Francisco, CA @ Aquarius Records
- 8/8 - San Jose, CA @ Fuel
- 8/9 - San Juan Capistrano, CA @ The Coach House
- 8/10 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
- 8/11 - Los Angeles, CA @ Knitting Factory
- 8/16 - Minneapolis, MN @ 400 Bar
- 8/17 - Green Bay, WI @ Muldoons
- 8/18 - Chicago, IL @ Schuba's
- 8/19 - Chicago, IL @ Schuba's
- 8/20 - Cleveland, OH @ TBA
- 8/22 - Boston, MA @ Middle East (two shows)
- 8/23 - New York, NY @ Knitting Factory
- 8/24 - Philadelphia, PA @ Upstage
- 8/25 - Washington, DC @ The Black Cat
- 8/26 - Athens, GA @ TBA
- 8/28 - Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
- 8/29 - St. Louis, MO @ TBA
- 9/2 - Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot Festival (w/ Big Star)
- 9/3 - Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot Festival (Auer & Stringfellow only)