The Posies are the band that just can’t break up, at least not for very long. The rock quartet from Bellingham, Wash., that emerged in the heyday of grunge, but specializes in melodic pop, has a new album out called “Blood/Candy."

The Posies are the band that just can’t break up, at least not for very long. The rock quartet from Bellingham, Wash., that emerged in the heyday of grunge, but specializes in melodic pop, has a new album out called “Blood/Candy.”


Songwriters Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow are the core of The Posies, and each has had a long career involving countless projects, from solo albums to working with other bands. They basically retired The Posies in 1998, after more than a decade of varying success and a major label deal. But the two couldn’t stay apart for long, and revel in the combination of their talents so much that some kind of Posies tour or project has never been far away.


“It’s true that we’re both very busy, but it’s a matter of priorities,” said Stringfellow. “The Posies have consistently been a priority for us both … We push each other in the best way, finding ways each other’s work can be pushed further.”


“I think to understand the process you must realize we are two guys who have not only worked together a long time, but who also formed their opinions about music together,” Auer said. “We have always played in bands with other people, but also find we’re so much more similar to each other … It is not hard to have our individual songs become The Posies, because we both laid the foundation, the blueprint for this band. We have influenced each other, I’m sure. We’ve even stolen from each other ­­­­–– one guy’s idea for a song goes nowhere, and the other one takes it and runs with it.”


The Posies began when Stringfellow, then a student at the University of Washington in Seattle, recorded tapes with his buddy, Auer. Raw demos from those first sessions became the duo’s 1988 debut album, “Failure.” It was so successful they had to recruit a rhythm section and begin gigging as a foursome.


“We were indie before indie was even a genre,” Auer said. “Our first album was literally recorded on an eight-track machine in my rec room.”


The success of the band’s melodic sound –– a bit of an anomaly in those days when grunge was taking over the airwaves –– soon propelled The Posies to a major label deal with Geffen Records. The follow-up, 1990’s “Dear 23,” spawned radio hits like “Golden Blunders” and “Dream All Day,” and 1993’s “Frosting on the Beater” continued their burgeoning popularity and the constant touring that went with it. The major label deal lasted for one more record, “Amazing Disgrace” in 1996. But neither songsmith has any regrets.


“I feel like we always had total control,” said Stringfellow. “Maybe even to our detriment. Geffen was a very laissez-faire, California kind of label. But when you hand a pair of 24-year-old kids half a million dollars to make an album, maybe they could use a little bit more guidance. There were no hard feelings when it was over.”


“One reason we went with Geffen was that we were such big fans of some of the bands they had on their roster,” said Auer. “I’m a huge XTC fan, and they also had people like Peter Gabriel. We made three records with them and had no complaints. I can tell you that the hotels you stay in while touring on a major label are a lot nicer.”


“Right now, we’re taking on as much of our careers as we can,” Auer added. “We manage ourselves, answer our own e-mails and make sure we meet the fans after our shows. I liken it to the farmers market approach, where you grow the food and sell it to your neighbors; we make the music and serve it direct, from us to you.”


One side project the duo shared was a stint as sidemen in Alex Chilton’s Big Star from 1993 to the singer’s untimely death last year. While a love of simple pop music would seem to be the obvious tie, it was a bit unusual for the indie rockers from the Seattle area to end up performing with Chilton, who was based most recently in New Orleans.


“We ended up onstage with a lot of people over the years whom we had adored as fans,” said Stringfellow. “We had no idea if we really belonged there, in some cases. Obviously, Jon and I were not the only Big Star fans in the world. But being fans led us to investigate Ardent Studios in Memphis, where they recorded. Big Star drummer Jody Stevens still works there, and we got to know Jody from about 1990 on. Around ’93, a Big Star show was proposed, and Alex agreed to having us join them. It can be really cool to reverse engineer your favorite music and get that kind of inside view.”


The Posies didn’t fit in sonically with their Seattle area brethren back in the early 1990s, but they were friends with most of them and shared stages in most of the local rock clubs with all of the grunge heavyweights. Auer noted that the same A&R man that signed them to Geffen also signed Nirvana. He and Stringfellow don’t see their music as that much different from grunge, just delivered differently.


“We fit in indie pop much better these days, with groups like Nada Surf,” Auer pointed out. “And I think the musical landscape has shifted a bit, so that now it’s OK to whisper about your angst, you don’t have to scream it. And melodic pop music is something people appreciate again, and really always did.”


ODDS AND ENDS: Speaking of melodic pop, that was a pretty impressive two-song stint by Bon Jovi on Tuesday night’s “The Late Show With David Letterman,” and really dynamic guitar work by Richie Sambora. There was an expanded version of the band’s concert available online, too.