Pale Divine Reunion | It’s Not Goodbye

paledivinereunionSTL’s favorite sons from the ’80s/’90s are back for one more show, and you won’t want to miss it. Did we mention you can win free tickets?

 

  

 

June 29, 2013
The Pageant, St. Louis
w/special guest The Finns

Below is a reprint of my 2008 interview with Pale Divine frontman Michael Schaerer, almost as good a conversationalist as he is a singer and songwriter. Win tickets here—and I’ll see you there!

It’s been 16 years since Pale Divine ruled the music scene in St. Louis. A huge part of the local—and then national—landscape in the late ’80s (originally as The Eyes) and early ’90s, the quartet (Michael Schaerer, lead vocals/guitar; Richard Fortus, guitar/vocals; Greg Miller, drums; and Dan Angenend Jr., bass) lorded over such local venues as Kennedy’s and Mississippi Nights, inspiring devoted followers wherever they went. They were signed to Atlantic Records which released one pristine album, Straight to Goodbye. Being tapped for a tour with the Psychedelic Furs led to guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Fortus forming a side project with the Furs’ Richard Butler…and leaving Pale Divine in its wake.

For years, fans have speculated about a possible reunion show, but it never seemed to happen. For one, Fortus moved from New York to Los Angeles and began playing with Guns ‘N Roses and touring with a number of popular acts.

Now, finally, the stars are aligned for Pale Divine to play once again. On December 29, The Pageant will host this very special regrouping; tickets have already been selling at a remarkable pace.

I had a chance to sit down with Schaerer and Fortus to talk about the reunion, and the band that was.

prof_pale-divine.jpg

 

On what led to the dissolution of Pale Divine in 1992…

I’d been writing a record; I was flying back and forth. There were a lot of problems we had and basically there was something that happened where it was just…you know, it’s not going to work out, I’m wasting my time. At that point, I made the decision to leave and move to New York.

On why have the Pale Divine reunion now…

RS: I had planned on coming to St. Louis for Christmas, and it’s the first time I’ll come to St. Louis in a long time. Because I have a new daughter, and we’re introducing her to her grandparents for the first time. I called everybody. It’s been a thing, in my mind as far as wanting to do it for quite a while; until now, I hadn’t been able to.

On his relentless touring schedule with Rihanna and then Guns ‘N Roses…

I get home on the 20th of December, and then get the family and go to St. Louis. And then the day after we play, I’m flying to Dubai for New Year’s; they’re still trying to figure out where the New Year’s show is going to be. GNR’s not doing anything until next year, in January.

On the whereabouts of the rest of the band…

MS: Dan has been working with an art company for the entire time since Pale Divine. Greg is in IT which is astounding to me. I never really thought of him as a technology type, but then when I think about it it’s like, yeah, he was doing the drum machine and the sequencing and all that, he had a knack for it and he’s done really well. He actually has continued to play; I don’t think Dan has played much, but he has, in fact has sat in, I’ve got a full band, Michael Schaerer Group, as you know, and Greg plays. He would show up and, man, it was like, there’s that big snare drum again. Man, that guy can just bang on ‘em. But I love it. He’s like my favorite drummer, I mean including everybody. Even Keith Moon. You get to the point where you know what’s coming, and you know some licks and how the fills are going to go, if they’re going to drive or drag, or what have you, and I was jumping on the beat all the time and gesticulating to the beat. And I would know, and he would know.

On rehearsing for the big show…

MS: I was thinking we were just going to wing it. We don’t need to practice. It’s only been what, 15 years? [laughs] The plan is to get together a month before for a full week of rehearsals with just the three of us [everyone but Rich]. I play guitar, but I can’t play Rich’s parts; a lot of them are ridiculous. So we’re gonna do a full month, and then when Rich gets here we’ll have at least a week. You gotta figure, we’ve played for ten years together, several times a week, and that’s just performances, and we also rehearsed… And I’ve known Rich since high school; we’ve been playing forever. Talk about riding a bicycle. It’s more, “I remember this.” And I still play a lot of it [in the Michael Schaerer Group].

On what the fans can expect December 29…

MS: We have an opener, The Nukes. First of all, they’ll set the performance banner pretty high; they’ll get the crowd going. And they’re such a great, dynamic band and a great bunch of guys. We’re going to do a 90-minute set, which still is a lot. It’ll be solid quality then, and my old bones will not rattle too much.

On the size of The Pageant’s stage…

MS: In the past, we didn’t do a whole lot of big stages, either. We did on the Psychedelic Furs tour, but here, the big stuff was like Blue Note in Columbia; Mississippi Nights was like the average. Kennedy’s we played so many times. Really small, and I loved that; we were packed onstage, and I learned to do a whole lot in four square feet. It looked like we were just masters of the universe, but I had four square feet. For Rich, of course, it will be a small stage for him now, having played every venue in the universe, including Wembley Stadium. The guy has really gone above and beyond. All these bands, all these records, all this music he creates; that’s what he loves to do, just create music. What’s so rewarding is that I have gotten back in touch with Rich and Dan on an almost daily basis.

On the double CD/DVD package available at the show…

RF: We’d been so busy with all this stuff, getting a DVD package ready. We’re doing a two-disc retrospective, and there’s going to be two CDs ,as well. One CD is our original first record that we put out on our own; I think we made about 1,000 copies originally, in like ’89. We’re also going to be including a CD of demos that we did after the Atlantic record [Straight to Goodbye] came out.

There’s some great songs on there and we’re excited to get those out. The demos sound great and the songs are really good. The DVD is great, it’s all old footage; it was a labor of love. The guy who used to videotape us was at every show, and he edited this two-DVD set. It’s a lot of material, a lot of hours of video, and it’s really beautiful; he did a really great job. And the packaging is going to be great. It’s costing us a lot of money; we’re going way out on a limb here. I don’t think we’re going to break even, but I think with the show and everything including, it will probably balance it out. We really had no idea what to expect, whether anybody would come out. But I guess it’s done quite well.

MS: It has seemed to me like another lifetime; it was a long time ago, but it was a huge part of my life. I didn’t go to college; I played college. And to now be able to relive it — reminds me of what a huge accomplishment it was, what we did and how well we did it, and what an impact we had on people. People met at our shows and now have children. I get that all the time: “You were the soundtrack to my life,”, and what a huge compliment. What a fantastic experience to have lived through it. The guys are great. We spent every day together for ten years. I get to sort of relive that; I get to play rock star for one night, which is plenty. | Laura Hamlett

 

Pale Divine plays The Pageant Monday, December 29; opening is The Nukes. Visit www.thepageant.com for ticket and other information.

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply