The unlikely Times New Viking reunion

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Few expected the Columbus lo-fi pioneers to reunite-especially the band itself.

Shortly after the turnof the century, a trio of CCAD students formed a band and (almost unwittingly) spawned an indie-rock movement. Their songs were short, raw and hastily recorded-equal parts sunny indie pop, DIY hiss, faux-political art school sloganeering and All-American post-punk guitar rock. In short order, Times New Viking jumped from a local underground favorite to an international one, cutting albums for renowned indie labels Matador and Merge and turning Columbus into ground zero for the lo-fi genre dubbed "shitgaze."

The moment was brief, however, and Times New Viking (and shitgaze) never achieved grunge-like prominence. Nine years after the band formed, Times New Viking was gone, with two band members leaving Columbus behind and only drummer Adam Elliott as local proof that the group ever existed. "We never officially broke up," says keyboardist Beth Murphy, who moved to Memphis. "We all had 30 in our minds as the time when we would stop playing, and we all reached that life transition point at the same time. It wasn't a very deliberate move."

"You've got to get away in order to start to have a different life," says guitarist Jared Phillips, who now lives in New York City. "You start hating the thing that you love the most."

Still, the band was missed-especially in Columbus-and after a four-year absence, they're reconvening to headline the 4th and 4th Fest on July 9. Few saw the reunion coming. While both Phillips and Elliott continued to play in other bands after Times New Viking ended, Murphy gave up music for a more settled married life in Memphis, where she works as a social media specialist for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "I didn't think it would ever happen because I thought Beth was completely done," says drummer Elliott.

Thank 4th and 4th founder Bobby Miller for the surprising comeback. "Honestly, I've been trying since the first year," says Miller, who's turned 4th and 4th (which is moving to the parking lot next to Ace of Cups in Old North Columbus in July) into a major local musical event. "I'm just happy that all the stars aligned for us this year." Murphy says the invite came at just the right moment for her. "It hit me at a time where I was feeling particularly homesick," she says.

But will the July show grow into something bigger? That's up in the air. "It's not like we are going to start recording again," Phillips says. "It's not like the guys can just walk over to my house, that's just gone." Murphy is more optimistic, however. "I would love to record more," she says. "If I can take a vacation from work, I'd rather meet up with the guys and record an album."

And even if it's a one-time thing, band members predict a special show. "There is no better crowd that I'd rather play for," Murphy says. "I miss a good old hometown show where I recognize everybody, and they know all the lyrics." Says Phillips: "I get to go to Columbus and pretend I'm 25 again for a night."