The ins and outs of band break-ups, according to White Wrench Conservatory
In rock ’n’ roll, the only thing that breaks up faster than marriages is bands. Such is the case with Milwaukee group White Wrench Conservatory, which will officially call it quits after Sunday’s show at The Cactus Club. Playing a break-up gig on Valentine’s Day might seem like an ironic choice, but it’s actually nifty act of symmetry, coming five years to the day after the band’s first-ever show in 2005. WWC has planned to go out with a “last waltz” of sorts, inviting friends and colleagues from fellow local groups Brief Candles and IfIHadAHiFi to join in on the revelry. In advance of the show, The A.V. Club asked band members Dixie Jacobs and Thom Geibel about WWC’s demise, the finality of the term "break-up," and missing out on the "good" Genesis.
The A.V. Club: Why is White Wrench Conservatory breaking up?
Dixie Jacobs: It is basically a bunch of different reasons that are inherently personal. It wasn’t ever something I wanted to do, and I’m still to a certain extent pretty devastated about it. I don’t really know how to answer that properly without getting into personal stuff, which I totally don’t want to do.
AVC: So basically your answer is, “None of your business.”
DJ: [Laughs.] Well, people have been asking me about it and I want to tell them, but it is nobody’s business. I’d like to provide people with a more reasonable answer than that, because I’m not accepting of it.
AVC: Lots of bands that break up don’t use the term “break-up,” because it sounds so final. Is this really it for you guys?
DJ: It is so final. And it can be kind of redundant sometimes. Like, the fucking Scorpions just announced they were breaking up, but first they’re releasing an album and going on a three-year tour. What does that even mean then? When you say you’re breaking up, there’s definitely a certain amount of finality. It doesn’t leave out the possibility of playing together again, but as far creating new things is concerned, it’s sort of final. As much as I hate to say it, I know that I’m never going to be writing new stuff with these guys again.
AVC: This break-up aside, what band break-up was the hardest on you personally?
DJ: Most of the bands I wish hadn’t broken up broke up way before I discovered who they were in the first place. Like, learning how The Cocteau Twins broke up was pretty fucking harsh. I think Liz Fraser got put in a mental institution, and Robin Guthrie went to rehab. There was all sort of bad, personal mojo going on with them that led to the band’s demise.
Thom Geibel: I never got to see Mclusky, but they basically re-formed as Future Of The Left, and I got to see that. But it’s not the same. I was really disappointed that I never got to catch them in their full glory. I got into them in 2005, right around the time they released their last album. And then two months later they broke up, and it was like, “I missed the boat.”
DJ: This is going to make me sound like a huge fucking nerd, but for me to see The Musical Box, which comes to the Pabst occasionally, and be able to go see Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, is so fucking rad, because I never had the chance to see that. Granted, Genesis was around for years and years after that, but not that Genesis. The good Genesis, not the bad Genesis.
AVC: Is it worse to break up before your time, or stay together for too long?
TG: It’s worse to hang on for too long, and tarnish everything else you’ve done with the crappy stuff you’re putting out. A couple groups that I’ve been in that have broken up, it’s like, “Well guys, I think we’ve run our course.” You reach that point, and you all agree.
AVC: What about bands that break up and get back together?
DJ: I think it matters what generation your band is and how much time you’ve taken off. I never saw the Pixies, so when they played the Milwaukee Theatre, it was sweet to able to see them live. It’s an older version of the band, but they’re more seasoned.
TG: I don’t think they had the popularity and notoriety they have nowadays where they can play a three-year reunion tour and sell out a lot of shit. They are cashing in, but good for them.
AVC: So, Valentine's Day is it for White Wrench Conservatory. How do you hope to go out?
DJ: Hopefully I won’t get too drunk and say something really fucking dumb.