The title of the new record from the Hundred Inevitables, Decade of Downtime, is beyond misleading. Even if My Bloody Valentine’s brain-crushingly loud Loveless had been named Super Quiet, it wouldn’t have been as misleading a title as Downtime. Over the course of the past decade plus, the members of the Hundred Inevitables have actually been supremely busy with other projects. So much so that although the Hundred Inevitables never broke up, they sort of just stopped.
Before the group — consisting of Toby Pipes, Taylor Young, Nolan Thies and Jeff Whittington — released their debut album Studder in 2000, Pipes had been the guitarist for Deep Blue Something, and then part owner of local studio Bass Propulsion Laboratories. Since the Hundred Inevitables slowed down, he has stayed busy as a member of Calhoun and Little Black Dress, a duo that Thies is his partner in. Meanwhile Young, who took over drum duties following the departure of the Deathray Davies' John Dufilho, has been one half of Dallas’ most beloved roots groups, the O’s. With so much going on for each of the members, it's not unfair to ask whether the Hundred Inevitables are even a real band anymore.
“Yes, I’d say that we're a real band,” Pipes says with a laugh, on the phone from Blade Studios in Shreveport after spending the day laying down vocals for the next Calhoun record. “We’re not trying to avoid playing any gigs or anything like that. We played shows regularly until the middle of recording this album, which was in 2008. But then, at that point, it seemed as though everyone was too busy with their other bands to go any further with this record.”
The record is a tremendous one, filled with a combination of Replacements-flavored guitar burners, dream-pop gems and crunchy, melodic '90s alt-rock without ever feeling dated — which is impressive because these aren't new songs by any means. The record was written, recorded and mastered bit by bit, in an array of studios and cities, over the course of the past dozen years. Though Pipes has been as active as any musician could hope to be, this album, from a group that was a part of his increasingly distant past, seemed to haunt him at shows he played. He was even reminded of it when he was in the studio, working on something unrelated to Decade.
“It was one of those things where we would see each other out at shows, or even when our bands would be on the same bill,” Pipes explains. “The question of, ‘Are we ever going to finish that thing?’ would almost always come up, and it continued to for over 10 years." The band finally hit the home stretch when Pipes was in Brooklyn visiting Thies, who had moved there to work on another project. "I asked him, ‘Should we just knock the last two tracks out?’ I thought we needed to do that since it had been years since all four of us had been in the same room together. It needed to be done, so we could get it out there and see what people thought about it.”
When looking at the projects Pipes has had in the hopper these last couple of years, it’s hard to imagine how he's kept it all straight. But now music with Pipes’ stamp on it is about to flood local ears. It’s probably good that Pipes is tentatively planning to move back to the Dallas area from Baton Rouge next year. In one swoop, an EP from the reunited Deep Blue Something, Calhoun’s new record, a video and single release from Nations and a new project consisting of him and Thies (but with Brooklyn-based vocalists singing over their arrangements) will hit the streets on the heels of Decade.
No big deal for Pipes, though, it seems.
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“It’s all just worked out and fit together, from a time perspective,” he says. “The Deep Blue Something record was finished, and then we finished the Hundred Inevitables record before I began working on the Calhoun record. It helped that everything was spread out over time, I guess. None of these projects were ones that were completed at once over the course of a couple of months. The timing was just perfect, all the way around.”
For now, Pipes is happy with the album and all of the musical juggling he has clearly mastered. He thinks some opportunities to play live as the Hundred Inevitables may come about, but he knows that before they could take the stage, he and his busy bandmates would have to be within arm’s reach of each other.
“We're certainly open to the right opportunity for us to play live again, but it took us three weeks just to get together for a band photo,” Pipes says, again with a laugh. “It’s just cool that we're all really excited about this whole thing again.”