There have been rumors abounding that Neutral Milk Hotel would be reuniting for a some shows for a while now, but now it’s officially, no bullshit, honest-to-god happening. And it’s a proper reunion, too (none of this Led Zeppelin two show shit), with about 20 dates planned so far but more promised and being added. So, yeah, holy shit.
This is pretty big news for any Neutral Milk Hotel fan. Or just fans of music, in general, because Neutral Milk Hotel is one of those bands who didn’t make much of an impact while they were together and producing new material, but have pretty much destroyed it since they split up. How does that even work? They got so little reception while they were together but have had such an impact since then. And there are hugely successful bands (like Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, Bon Iver) who have listed Neutral Milk Hotel as a huge influence, and yet In the Aeroplane Over the Sea has only sold 300,000 copies. Unbelievable.
Here’s my story with Neutral Milk Hotel: they split in 1998 and I had never heard them or even heard of them, despite their Denver connections, because I was but a mere child and still listening to a lot of Mariah Carey and R.E.M. at that point in my life (but at least I was over my boy band stage). It wasn’t until a friend lent me In the Aeroplane Over the Sea a couple of years later (lent it to me as in gave me a physical copy of her CD, because I am old as shit and these are the pre-download days) that I actually heard them. And I had one of these moments that was like, “Oh my god. Is this genius? No, it’s mental. No, wait, maybe genius.” It was just one of those albums, you know? A brilliant combination of craziness and lo-fi noise and Anne Frank-inspired lyrics (not kidding) and horns and banjos and all sorts of sounds that you can’t even imagine. But put together in a remarkable, truly listen-able and likeable album. And then when I Googled them (ha! Kidding! Google didn’t exist back then. I Alta Vista-ed them) and found out they’d split long ago, I was sad and thought I’d never be happy again. So I took it upon myself to find every recording they’d every done and dissect it with an obsessive passion. Like any Neutral Milk Hotel fan.
Jeff Mangum, the singer/songwriter/musician/driving genius behind Neutral Milk Hotel basically dropped of the face of the planet after 1998 and maybe had a breakdown and didn’t really reemerge until the late 2000s, when he started playing some solo gigs, including some Neutral Milk Hotel songs and everyone was like, “OMG, Neutral reunion??” and Jeff was like, “Haaaa, nooo, go suck it,” and we were sad again. But now it’s happening. And not only that — the reunion band will consist of not only Jeff, but Scott Spillane, Jeremy Barnes and Julian Koster, i.e. the exact same band members behind In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. That NEVER happens. It’s almost too good to be true. I keep waiting for some horrible “Gotcha!” from Pitchfolk that proves they’re just fucking with us.
Oh, and the most insane part is that they have Asian dates. They’ve already got dates scheduled in Taipei and Tokyo and there’s a rumor that someone in Shanghai put in a bid for them in between because they’ve got the time and could come right through Shanghai and if that happened I WOULD DIE. I would literally die and then I’d be dead so I’d miss the show but I would have died for a good cause and maybe I’d get a shout out or something like and it would be all worth it.
I was trying to decide on a track to include in this post in case people have not heard them before and I just listened to every single song again. Can’t choose because they are all so perfect and unique and different and so I just thought, “Fuck it; go with the opener.”
I literally get tingles when I listen to it. That’s weird, right? I probably shouldn’t say that. But they’re that good and they’re that awesome.
For the best Neutral Milk Hotel band bio ever, read this Cracked.com article.
PS: The only thing in the world that could make this better is if they decided to release new material. The only thing.
PPS: The only thing in the world that could make this worse would be a picture of Paris Hilton holding a copy of my favorite album ever, implying we have similar tastes in music.