Their 2003 album The Meadowlands earned them adulation, but a long-promised followup never arrived. Now their frontman is back as Aeon Station – and his former co-writer is very unhappy…

Before taking flight as indie-rock heartbreakers the Wrens, Kevin Whelan and Charles Bissell were an awkward, prickly pair who met at a graduation party in an abandoned house. “I never had any friends or girlfriends,” the affable Whelan, 51, says with a self-effacing laugh from the New Jersey home he shares with his wife and sons. “My Saturday night was watching Doctor Who on PBS.”

Whelan’s frontman confidence was still a work-in-progress in 1988, so Bissell, a guitar whiz and jazz fiend six years his senior, took him under his wing, lending the nerdy keyboardist an amp to join the party jam. Before long Whelan was paying visits to Bissell’s New York apartment, where he heard his future bandmate debut his first song. “I can even remember it,” says Whelan, grabbing an acoustic guitar to recite his friend’s 33-year-old riff. “From that, we started really getting into what songs could be.”

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