Rob Brunner
May 16, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

EW gets a history lesson from the members of Wire

Wire have never had much patience for the past. Though the London quartet’s late-’70s albums are among the best punk-related artifacts ever created, the band barely paused to savor the impact of that now-classic output. ”We started the ’80s with a ‘year zero,”’ says singer-guitarist Colin Newman. ”[We said], ‘Hey, let’s just play entirely new music.”’ The group dispersed in the early ’90s, with several members pursuing careers in esoteric dance music.

So it comes as a surprise to find Wire happily reunited, performing their ’70s songs live, and releasing a new album, ”Send,” made with old-fashioned guitars, bass, and drums. Their timing is excellent: Wire’s brittle postpunk style is very much in vogue (see New York’s the Liars and Interpol). As a result, recent concerts have hardly been nostalgiafests, especially since many admirers discovered the band long after its heyday, often through covers like R.E.M.’s ”Strange” and Minor Threat’s ”12XU.” ”Nobody is saying ‘You played those songs and it brought back my youth,”’ says Newman. ”It’s more like ‘F—ing hell, you were loud!”’

Wire’s latest incarnation kicked off in 2000 with a ”living legends” gig at London’s Royal Festival Hall. ”Everybody was just in the right space, really,” says bassist Graham Lewis. (The band also includes guitarist Bruce Gilbert and drummer Robert ”Gotobed” Grey.)

Wire took to the road, playing with renewed enthusiasm. Last year, they released two EPs, ”Read & Burn 01” and ”02” (many of those tracks are also on ”Send”). Fans seem pleased with the fresh direction. ”People say it’s f—ing powerful,” says Newman. ”I don’t know how we do that. Some of it is so simple to play. But it has that energy. It’s not a folk group, you know.”

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