After a 20-plus year hiatus, Adventure Set’s Mark Pothier and Ken Scales improbably still figure time is on their side. That’s one of the reasons their new 5-track EP is titled Centuries to Go. The name acknowledges the relentless march of years, but also makes a statement about longevity and relevance -- Boston-based Adventure Set is back and hurtling forward.
Centuries to Go (Gimme That Sound Productions) follows the release earlier this year of the double single Paler Faces / Vitamin and coincides with the band’s first live shows in the Boston area.
The EP’s first single is “Stereo Hands,” a careening electronic pop song that songwriter Pothier describes as being about “old sounds in a hyper world and how new forms of communication don’t necessarily make communication any easier.”
The accompanying video for “Stereo Hands” was shot and directed by Matt Pothier, Mark’s nephew. Much of it is set at the ocean’s edge in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at an abandoned factory complex that was once home to the world’s largest rope manufacturer.
Pothier was Deputy Business Editor for The Boston Globe and a Harvard University writing instructor – and still is! – when Adventure Set’s voice, Ken Scales, called him two years ago. They hadn’t played together since 1983, when Pothier left Boston’s acclaimed but commercially undernourished Adventure Set to join the traveling madhouse that was Ministry. The two had rarely seen each other during the ensuing years.
That phone conversation led Pothier to buy a cheap MIDI keyboard and spend hours huddled over a MacBook, writing songs again for the first time in years.
Yep, the songwriter/Garageband/bedroom demos cliché. Fortified by a fresh batch of songs, Pothier and Scales late last summer went into Gimme That Sound studio in New York’s Catskills region with Grammy-winning producer Stephen George, also formerly of Ministry.
Centuries to Go comes from those sessions.
While Adventure Set isn’t interested in the soft comfort of nostalgia, the back story to this unlikely reunion does deserve telling.
Scales is considered by many in the Boston music scene to be one of the most talented and charismatic singers to have never broken big. With his bands Pastiche – winner of WBCN’s legendary first Rock and Roll Rumble – and, later, Adventure Set, he became known as a sophisticated and cool frontman, well-bred on eclectic and varied influences, starting with the Bowie-Ferry-David Sylvian school of vocalists. Adventure Set dissolved after several lineup changes, but not before producing a local hit, “Blue is For Boys.” Since then, Scales has been involved in various music projects, including a 2009 Pastiche reunion. Largely, however, he has remained an artist in waiting.
Pothier survived a nationwide tour in the ‘80s with Al Jourgensen and George. After a thorough cleansing, he got a job as a newspaper reporter. In 2001, Harvard University named him a Nieman Fellow, one of journalism’s most prestigious honors.
It’s been a while since these two made music together, but for Adventure Set, a two-decade separation is just a pause. The century is still young.
Songs by: Mark Pothier
Published by: Paper Trace Publishing, ASCAP
Produced by: Stephen George for Gimme That Sound Productions
KEN SCALES: Vocals
MARK POTHIER: Keyboards, programming, backing vocals
STEPHEN GEORGE: Additional keyboards, programming
ADAM AMOROSO: Guitar (tracks 2, 3, 4)
GUTHRIE LORD: Guitar (track 1), bass (tracks 1,2)
STEPHEN GEORGE: Drums (track 4)
CHRIS BOWMAN: Drums (track 3)
Mixed and recorded by: Stephen George at Gimme That Sound Studios
Assistant Engineers: Dakota Bowman, Rob Akesson and Zoë Levy-Serrano
Additional recording by: Mark Pothier
Mastered by Chris Gehringer at Sterling
©ⓟ Gimme That Sound Productions 2011
Copyright 2011 Paper Trace Publishing, ASCAP
Cover art by: Elizabeth Pothier (www.elizabethpothier.com