Not hitting it big is OK with Lloyd Cole

CorrespondentJanuary 24, 2013 

Lloyd Cole.

PAUL SHOUL

  • More information Who: Lloyd Cole When: 8 p.m. Wednesday Where: Cat’s Cradle, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro Cost: $20 Details: 919-967-9053

Mainstream rock fans are aware of the bands that went through the stratosphere during “the year punk broke.”

That phrase is taken from the entertaining and informative 1992 documentary by Dave Markey. Nirvana went through the stratosphere. Seminal independent bands, such as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. signed major label deals and basked in stability.

Lloyd Cole inked a contract with Capitol Records and recorded arguably his finest solo album “Don’t Get Weird On Me, Babe” in 1991.

Cole was seven years removed from releasing his critically acclaimed “Rattlesnakes” album with his backing band, The Commotions. Expectations were high for the suave, well-regarded Cole and his cerebral, catchy pop-rock. Would Cole breathe the rarefied air enjoyed by a new wave of alt-rockers after the hair-metal bubble burst?

“That’s what Capitol hoped and thought,” Cole says, on the phone from Boston. “You watched certain bands like Nirvana get massive, and well, other recording artists not get very far.”

Despite a strong push and solid songs, Cole failed to take off, but unlike some of his peers who failed to hit it big – like Bob Mould, who complained at shows about his situation – Cole accepted what transpired.

“Bob Mould has always been such a curmudgeon,” Cole says. “You can’t be bitter about things. I’m not. I’m a working musician and I love the fact that I’ve been able to do what I love over the years. I get to tour and record. I can’t control whether I’m a big star or not.”

Cole, who will perform Wednesday at the Cat’s Cradle, has quietly made an impressive collection of albums, filled with literate and wry tunes.

The native of England, who lives in suburban Massachusetts, has a knack for writing catchy, melancholy tunes. However, his last album, 2010’s overlooked “Broken Record,” is perhaps the most upbeat offering of his career.

Cole says to expect the same of his recently completed album, which will drop sometime in 2013.

“I think this one will have quite a bit of bounce just like ‘Broken Record,’ ” Cole says. “You can feel it.”

The common denominators are bassist-vocalist Matthew Sweet and drummer Fred Maher. “Those are the key pieces on each of these projects,” Cole says. “Matthew adds so much since he’s one of the best bassists you’ll ever find. He is a tremendous backing vocalist. I asked Matthew if he could give me the backing vocal that is (Sweet’s harmony-laden solo song) ‘Divine Intervention’ and he just nails it. Fred is a great drummer. I was very fortunate again.”

Expect Cole to preview some of the new material, but he’s uncertain of his set list. “I just go in knowing what I’ll lead off the show with and I just go from there,” he says. “If I were to play three songs from each of my albums, that would be a long show. Who knows what I’ll ultimately do?”

It’s certain that Cole will touch on most of his albums and hit a local golf course, weather permitting. Cole is the eleventh best musician golfer, according to Golf Digest.

“I love golf,” Cole says. “I’m going to play a course in Florida before I hit North Carolina. It’s just something that I’ve always loved, no matter how well I do. It’s kind of like how things are with me and music.”

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service