SONIC BOOM AND SPECTRUM at the Comfort Zone (480 Spadina), Saturday (November 17), 10 pm. $12. 416-763-9139. Rating: NNNNN
you've got to feel just a littlesad for Sonic Boom.While his former Spacemen 3 partner and butane huffer Jason Pierce is making music with a 100-piece orchestra and playing the Royal Albert Hall, Boom, aka Pete Kember, is stuck playing tiny clubs fronting little more than a Spacemen cover band.
Kember's current tour is titled Songs The Spacemen Taught Us and features his Spectrum band -- including former Spacemen 3/Spiritualized bassist Will Carruthers -- going back 15 years to do drone-rock songs from the famed UK psych group's back catalogue.
Yet while Pierce has long since distanced himself from any idea of a Spacemen 3 reunion ("It's so sad," was the Spiritualized frontman's reaction to the Spectrum tour), Kember has his reasons for revisiting the past.
For all their influence in the fuzz/drone scene, Spacemen 3 never actually played North America -- a 1989 U.S. tour was cancelled at the last moment, and the band blew apart shortly thereafter. Since then, Kember's acted as an unofficial archivist of the band's recordings, re-releasing everything from live sets to demos and even hawking signed posters and merchandise.
Pierce might be right to call his moves "a tawdry cash-in," but at least the charming Kember is brutally honest about his motivations.
"People don't care about my new music," Kember offers from Seattle. "More people are interested in hearing us come and do songs from the last 15 years. That's fair enough. I've always been proud of the music, and I never stopped doing some of the songs, but we're really going back deep into the Spacemen material here.
"We never toured America, and I know a lot of people were upset by that, so we're making up for it now. This is totally in the original vein. Not everyone can play this kind of music. On one hand, it's very simple music that monkeys could play, but they'd have to be monkeys that had feeling and soul."
How the material holds up remains to be seen. Backed by a 12-piece band at their recent Kool Haus show, Spiritualized blazed through an apocalyptic version of the Spacemen classic Take Me To The Other Side.
Don't expect to hear Kember roaring through that song, though. Needless to say, Spectrum's Comfort Zone show Saturday will be the live equivalent of Spacemen 3's infamous Recurring disc, where a warring Kember and Pierce each recorded their own side of an album at different times to avoid seeing each other.
"I'm keeping clear of songs that Jason wrote," Kember laughs. "It feels great to be playing this stuff, but it does feel a bit weird to be playing it without him.
"I miss what we could do together. He was a great guitar player and a great songwriter. I think he rests on his laurels a bit now. When Jason was on form, going back 10 years or so, it didn't get much better than that, for me anyway.
"I've heard his new stuff and I'm not that interested. I think he coasts a lot. As it turns out, that's exactly what he says about me."
What's truly odd is that Pierce and Kember are both touring around America at the same time, playing many of the same cities only a few days or weeks apart.
"Yeah, it's as if someone planned it that way," Kember snorts. "We're living in parallel universes. You'd think we were trying to avoid each other."