Rearview Mirror: God Street Wine (Relix Revisited)
This weekend God Street Wine will return to the stage for two performances at New York City's Grammercy Theatre to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of their initial live gig. The group also has released a box set that reflects the scopes of their career and includes a documentary film on GSW. Today we present this article on the band which originally appeared in the February-March 2010 issue of the magazine.
God Street Wine began playing a nameless genre which hadn’t found its footing at dives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late 1980s. The burgeoning movement that the band was helping establish had not quite taken form yet as the Grateful Dead towered over a one-band scene. The phrase jamband had yet to be coined.
The New York-based quintent toured relentlessly and was one of the first bands to harness the Internet as a medium to stay connected with its fans via a 15,000-plus person e-mail newsletter the band dubbed The Wino. The dawn of the Internet age was a heady time for God Street Wine and trading tapes was still the only way that a group could expand its audience and name outside of its geographic area without touring. Indeed, GSW had a reputation that often preceeded it.
“We were arrogant, headstrong, conceited New Yorkers in our 20s,” says band guitarist and songwriter Lo Faber. “The amount of people that we probably offended or pissed off? Their ranks are legion. We had an attitude, but you can’t regret it. That’s just the way we rolled.”
Over its ten-year career, GSW released five studio albums, including three under major label umbrellas (one with Geffen; two with Mercury). The recordings capture the band’s songcraft, but ultimately don’t match its legendary prowess onstage, which created an intensely loyal fanbase that allowed the band to tour extensively.
“Sometimes, I found touring to be quite stultifying,” reflects Faber. “I just didn’t really have the constitution for going out and driving 600 miles, staying at a Motel 6, playing a three-and-a-half hour show, and doing the same thing 30 more times that month.”
The band broke up in 1999 and the members went their separate ways. Today, bassist Dan Pifer is as an executive at a digital media distribution company, keyboardist Jon Bevo works as a software engineer, guitarist/vocalist Aaron Maxwell works as a technology integrator at a private school and plays in a gypsy jazz group and drummer John Thomas Osander lives in Ireland and has spent the last eight years recording and touring with Damien Rice. (He’s worked with Lisa Hannigan as well.) Faber, meanwhile, has been esconsced down south in Louisiana. “I’m living in New Orleans working on my Ph.D. under Princeton’s supervision,” he says. “I’m writing about the effects of how becoming a part of the United States transformed the city of New Orleans.”