At the core of Wire Train were its two songwriters, Kevin Hunter and Kurt Herr.
Hunter was educated in the European centres of France, Spain and Italy as well as Los Angeles,
and he developed a deep appreciation of poetry and literature, managing
to write two short novels by the time he was sixteen.
While studying poetry in
San Francisco, Hunter bumped into Kurt Herr. "When I met him", Hunter later
recalled, "I asked him two questions: Did he play music? And did he want
to be in a band? The answer to both questions was
At the time, Herr did not
actually play guitar; Hunter had some rudimentary axe skills, but was more
focused on the lyrical side of things. So, they decided to embark on a
rigorous six-month program to chisel out a sound. Along the way they went
through various rhythm sections, eventually hooking up with bassist Anders
Rundblad (a native Swede), and Argentinean born drummer Federico Gil Solá.
Starting life as The Renegades, they began serious demoing, managing to
produce a college radio favourite 451 in the process.
One early fan was none other than Howie Klein, then a DJ on Bay Area station KUSF (and KSAN and
KSJO), more recently head of Sire records. In June 1983, he signed them
to his blossoming label 415 Records; the band changed their name to Wire
Train (after a line in one of their early songs) and went into San Francisco's
Automatt studios to record their debut album, In a Chamber.
Recorded in just seventeen days at a cost of some $22,000, In a Chamber
featured all of the great Wire Train characteristics; alluring, ethereal
melodies and chiming guitars underpinning passionate and oblique almost stream of consciousness
vocals. At the time Hunter said of the record : "We hope to keep improving. People like Lennon and Dylan have been able say things that are perfect
expressions of an emotion or moment; developing that kind of talent is
where its at for us". U2's Bono later claimed it to be his personal favourite
album of 1984.
In a Chamber was voted among the ten best albums of 1984 in various California critic's
polls and stayed in the national college charts for several months. The
band toured the US club circuit, and then hitched the opening slot on Big
Country's "The Crossing" Tour. As this sojourn finished, Gil Solá jumped
ship and was replaced by Brian Macleod.
Their second album, 1985's Between Two Words, was recorded in Vienna during the summer of '85.
"Vienna was chosen," says Kevin, "due to Peter Maunu's (producer) familiarity with
it and its emotional similarity to San Francisco." The sessions were remarkably
fruitful, with (allegedly) over 30 songs being recorded; however, they were also fraught
with problems, and just as the album was finally completed, Kurt Herr decided
to quit to concentrate on solo projects.
Replacement guitarist Jeffrey Trott had just two weeks to learn the band's material when he stepped in,
and then they took off across the US once again in support of new product.
They first hit California as support to INXS, and later headed cross country
with them, revisiting their favourite clubs from their 1984 outing.
Early 1986 saw them hit Europe for several tours, opening for the likes of
The Alarm, Bangles and The Waterboys.
At one point, Jeff Trott was on the verge of joining The Waterboys, but
for one reason or another this was not to be. During this period the band
began preparing material for their third album, which was recorded in the
Autumn of '86 in London. Ten Women found its way out
in '87, and featured contributions from The Alarm's Dave Sharpe and Waterboy
The band once again toured
Europe in 1987, in their own right and as openers for The Alarm
, but after returning to San Francisco and finishing touring
commitments, they effectively vanished. It was another two years before
they re-surfaced, with a new album Wire Train and label (MCA records).
415 Records had been sold, leaving the band "talking to strangers when
they telephoned the office". They decided they wanted to be with a larger
label, their new owners decided otherwise and then things got legal. "When
the lawyers got involved, it was trouble. It's not in their best interests
to get it over with quickly", explained Anders Rundblad.
having to split up to extract themselves from their contract left the band
pretty disillusioned, but individually at least, they were in demand. Jeff
Trott found time to join ex Waterboy Karl Wallinger's World Party
, and Brian Macleod spent time working with Michael Jackson & Madonna, amongst others.
Wire Train marked a definite change in direction for the band - much looser
and folkier than anything they'd produced before. The sound was also
characterized by Jeff Trott's sumptuous slide guitar playing, completely
rewriting the Wire Train blueprint. The album crept out in summer 1990 without too much
fanfare, and the single, Should She Cry?, began to receive some MTV airplay.
Hitting the road once again, the band toured the Midwest opening for Bob Dylan. Performing mostly on
open-air stages at state fairs, the band noted that Dylan wasn't always
exactly dressed for the weather : "In Phoenix, the temperature was 137
degrees. And Bob went on wearing two sweat shirts and a fur hat. He's a
strange guy.", Hunter later remarked. Whatever Bob's dress sense may have
been, the exposure the band received must have helped: Wire Train managed
to outsell all previous Wire Train albums combined.
The next output from the band surfaced in 1991, when they contributed
I Will Not Fall to the soundtrack of the Patrick Swayze / Keanu Reeves
FBI-Surfing vehicle, Point Break.
Finally, in 1992, No Soul No Strain was released (the title being a play
on words on the cover photo - Nose Hole, Nose Train). A further move away from the style they had
established in the '80's, once again the album crept out on MCA but this time there was some
noticeable promotion. Opening track Stone Me was released as a single, showing an almost (dare
I say it) funky side to the band previously not heard. Wire Train came to the UK for the first time
in 4 years, playing the BBC Radio 1 sessions tent at the Reading Festival in August '92, and then the
tiny Borderline club in London's Charing Cross Road on 2nd September. The press seemed to have forgotten
that the band had almost been around for 10 years at this point, but reactions to the set at Reading
(which started with a very slow re-working of Last Perfect Thing ) were generally good - Melody
Maker describing the set thus: "Of these San Franciscan enigmas we knew little, but their expansive set,
atmospheric, rhythmic and taught, impressed mightily."
Once again the band then seemed to disappear without trace, presumably to work on other projects.
Two further releases bearing their name appeared, the first in 1995 on
the small US independent Oglio label, run by Carl Caprioglio.
In a Chamber / Between Two Words was precisely just that, both albums at last receiving
a CD release as a "twofer" in the US. No bonus tracks were featured, and very little in the way of
information was included.
Eventually, Columbia acknowledged the contribution Wire Train (and other 415 artists)
made to the '80's with a kind of "Best Of" release on their Legacy imprint,
Last Perfect Thing - A Retrospective. Several rare cuts were present, including
one completely unreleased track - I Will Wait For You - that Kevin Hunter had originally
given to Jane Wiedlin. Prior to both of these in 1994, Columbia Legacy also found time to put
out The Best of 415 Records, a compilation of 415 artists including Wire Train alongside
Romeo Void, Red Rockers, Translator etc.
That unfortunately brings us to the end of our official story. The final line up have all been
very active individually, and more information on this is included on the
Wire Train solo page.
After No Soul No Strain, Wire Train did actually record two more albums for MCA, both of which
the record company kindly rejected. The titles were Snug and Electric. Snug
carries on where No Soul... left off, with some of the cuts displaying a real funky side
to the band - plenty of wah-wah guitar, that sort of thing. More information
on this album can be found on the
In The Vaults page.