Learning to Fly

The Wrens released the best album of 2003. It almost never came out.

"When [Secaucus] came out in '96, you had no sense of 'Does anybody like it?'" Bissell says. "You'd see a few print reviews, but there's no sense, no idea. Now, because of the online community, you have a much more immediate sense of what people like. That's what the Internet has enabled everybody to do. If you come up with something that satisfies yourself, there's some small group of people that will probably be into it also."

That group of people has been pretty substantial, actually, as proven by sellout concerts in San Francisco, Chicago and Boston this year. At this year's SXSW conference in Austin, the Wrens' show was so crowded that fans piled up against the venue's windows to catch a glimpse. The sellout list would probably be longer if the band was able to tour more often, but the band seems content with the limited number of concerts, and not just because of day jobs back in Jersey.

While he and Whelan gush over the attention they've received in the past year, they also express insecurities over how long the success will last. Not something you'd expect from a hot indie band, but with the Wrens, perhaps that's the point.

"I stopped listening to music for about two and a half years," says Wrens guitarist Charles Bissell, right. It took four years to complete The Meadowlands, the band's critically acclaimed 2003 album.
"I stopped listening to music for about two and a half years," says Wrens guitarist Charles Bissell, right. It took four years to complete The Meadowlands, the band's critically acclaimed 2003 album.

Details

The Wrens perform Friday, August 20, at Hailey's, with Magnolia Electric Co. and Western Keys.

"Every single show beforehand, we still get nervous," Bissell says. "Not so much about the playing part, even though we never rehearse, but more like, after all these years, you're really waiting for the next show where there's only four people again. It's still a shock when someone's singing the words to a song...in the audience."

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