Archers Of Loaf: "Anger makes good rock’n’roll, and I had a lot of it"

Archers Of Load group shot
(Image credit: Kate Fix)

For Eric Bachmann, anger has always made the best fuel. The frontman’s righteous fury made Archers Of Loaf one of the spikiest – albeit most unsung – prospects of early-90s American indie rock, Bachmann howling over a dissonant jangle. 

And although 1998’s split seemed permanent, Bachmann tells us the Trump era topped up his bile tanks, paving the way to the jagged anthemics of Reason In Decline, the band’s fifth album.


How would you describe the vibe of Reason In Decline? 

Well, I’ll leave that to the journalists. I think it’s angry rock music. The band seemed utterly fed up after the split. 

Twenty four years later, are you surprised there’s another Archers album? 

Yeah, no doubt. As a working band we were so done. We were so burnt out, starting to disagree more about what the band should sound like. So before it got into too much conflict we said let’s just stop. The idea of making another record was absurd. 

What changed? 

I don’t want to be political. I want to write about the human heart. But when you live in the US and you’re moderately sensitive, and you have a president like we had, you have to react. I thought, well, if I’m going to make a rock record, let’s do an Archers record. Because you’re not going to find a better group of guys, with the chemistry that we had. 

So the political environment lit your fire again? 

Yeah. I understand that anger makes good rock’n’roll, and I had a lot of it [at the start of the band]. But when I tried to write a new Archers record in 2015 – because I’d got sick of people asking me – I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t authentic, because I wasn’t feeling those things that had made me angry in the past. But then this situation happened and I found I could do it in a way where, as a fifty-two-year-old man, I wasn’t being a jackass.

Is there still that negativity in the air, despite Trump’s exit? 

Unfortunately, Trump is a symptom of a much greater problem. I think the biggest culprit is that media is irresponsible. There’s no accountability, and there’s this idea that if we can keep everybody angry at each other and arguing… Conflict is the main ingredient of good drama. And good drama sells a lot of tickets. 

You’ve said the pandemic hit you particularly hard. 

I’ve been playing in bands since I was fourteen. I couldn’t work at all, and in terms of my mental health it just collapsed. Suicide ideation and all this stuff, it overwhelmed my brain. And when I got help – not by my choice, but my spouse’s – it became very clear that music had always been a health thing for me. It was the way that I coped with the world. 

You must be looking forward to going on the road again? 

Every two or three years we’ll play a show, because we all get along. The thing that scares me is that now we’re doing weeks in a row, and that’s when you get in trouble. I’ve had work on my throat, so I’m okay now, but it’s very physical. I’ll be candid, I couldn’t sing these songs without being in a room full of fans screaming back at me. That’s the joy of this. 

Reason In Decline is out now via Merge Records.

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.