Despite Athenaeum's 2004 break up, band members -- vocalist/guitarist Mark Kano, guitarist/vocalist Mike Garrigan, bassist Alex McKinney and drummer Jeremy Cannon -- are keeping a door cracked open that leads to success with this musical pastime. Hits like "What I Didn't Know," from 1998's Radiance, and "Comfort," from '01s self-titled album, are hard to forget, often heard streaming across local radio stations and always stirred up a crowd at shows by the Greensboro-based band.
Athenaeum continues to perform and will be making its way into Amos' Southend for the venue's 15th anniversary on Feb. 23. This will be Amos' Southend's first anniversary show and will also feature Parallel and The Stella's.
John Ellison, Amos' owner, wanted it to feature Athenaeum since they were a band who played at the venue in its earlier years and when some of the band members themselves were still in their teens. "They've also been one of my favorite bands for years," says Ellison.
"We've played a handful of reunion shows like every year since we had broke up," says Kano, in an interview at The Evening Muse on Jan. 12. He and Garrigan, who is also a solo artist and former member of the band Collapsis, played a two-hour long set together, going back and forth between new and old, including some old Athenaeum songs.
Athenaeum's name was inspired by a literary society that original drummer Nic Brown's father was in while in high school in Louisville, Ky. They started out when Brown and Kano met in 1991, while Kano was in the 8th grade. From there on meeting other members, the youngsters released an unofficial demo in 1994 on cassette.
After already informing Kano that Athenaeum's rare third album, Hourglass, is being sold from price ranges from $30-$50 on Amazon from various sellers, he remarks on the bands demo. "Those are probably going for zilch on Amazon. That was the very first independent release we felt proud of. It was sort of unofficially titled The Green CD and that came out in 1995."
After Athenaeum's success with Radiance, the band went on to release their self-titled album that would resemble their first, but with more mature and darker soundscrapes. "Being exposed to a lot of other bands, we sort of discovered that we could be more of a rock band and that was sort of uncharted territory for us," Kano says.
Garrigan adds, "The demos got bigger and more aggressive and darker too, which was kind of a cool change so that the second record wasn't just the first record part two. It was a different thing."
After the release, which was around Sept. 11, 2001, Athenaeum was dropped from Atlantic Records. "We had sold about close to 100,000 records with Radiance. I think they just decided to let go of a lot of baby bands, unfortunately we happened to be one," says Kano.
Athenaeum went on to self-release Hourglass, a collection of rare demos distributed on Redeye before finally declaring a breakup. Since then, Kano and Garrigan have played together as a duo and as a part of the mg4, as well as The Gossman Project, a Christian rock opera composed by Garrigan that featured Kano as the voice of Judas and Pilate.
Kano, who is now working on his own solo record, and Garrigan, who is in the process of building a studio, both continue to remain heavily immersed in pursuing music.
Expected to be released in early spring or summer, Kano's solo project will feature Brown on drums, Garrigan on guitar and Snuzz (Ben Folds Five) on bass.
"It's probably only going to be eight songs on the CD," Kano says. "It's between an EP and a full length album. So, absolutely we'll be playing some more Athenaeum songs and I haven't yet put together a live band, so at first we may be doing some CD release shows as an acoustic duo in which case we'd be playing a lot of Mike's songs too."
In regards to Athenaeum and a possible band reunification, Kano says, "I'm not against doing another Athenaeum record in the future, but right now it is not something that is on the plate at the moment."
Athenaeum plays at Amos' Southend on Feb. 23 with Parallel and The Stella's. Tickets are $12. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.