Music Club

Catching up with Come’s Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw

"I recognized our chemistry back then but I have a richer sense of it now."

Boston-based band Come is known for its anti-pop aesthetic, deeply rooted among the legends of 90s indie rock, whose members are a revered presence in the music scene. Mark C/Fire Records

Having spent two decades on the radio and seeing shows in Boston, I have countless unforgettable moments. Right up there, though, is a 2019 coffee house performance at Lowell’s The Town and the City Festival with Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw playing Come songs (“Recidivist” is one of the greatest songs ever written). 

The band is known for its anti-pop aesthetic, deeply rooted among the legends of ’90s indie rock, whose members are a revered presence in the music scene. Certified legends among the distinguished mantle of Boston Rock — my Music Hall of Fame, if you will, alongside bands like Mission of Burma, Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, Morphine, The Cars, Pixies, and The Neighborhoods (yes, there are more we can talk about later).


Come formed in 1990, after time in bands Uzi, Live Skull, Codeine, and Dangerous Birds. There was a short guitar-playing stint for Thalia in White Zombie, and that time Chris played with GG Allin. The band first signed to Sub Pop, then Matador, and toured with the likes of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. Hole, and Sugar. They are playing again, there’s a Cambridge date in September with a European tour later this fall in support of the Fire Records’ reissues of Peel Sessions and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. 

We caught up with Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw of Come ahead of their guest appearance with the Music Club August 17 at 7 p.m. and discussed the band’s beginning, their musical partnership, and their love of Boston.

The band came up in the 1990s, a beautiful time in Boston music with venues like The Rat, TT the Bear’s, Middle East, ManRay, Green Street. What was playing music like during that time in the city?

Thalia Zedek: There was a real sense of community then, mainly centered around Central Square [Cambridge] for me. I remember getting home from a 6 week Come tour and going straight to the Middle East because I knew that I’d run into all of my friends there!


Chris Brokaw: It was exciting, I felt very connected to ‘the scene’ here (which in later years I came to recognize more as being one of many music scenes here). I did a lot of hanging out at the clubs, seeing bands, and meeting with friends. 

In February, Fire Records released Peel Sessions from two early 90’s performances recorded on the late John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 program. That release followed the reissue of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – the band’s 1994 sophomore release that’s been described as “one of the greatest dissident records ever made.” – what is it like playing these songs almost 30 years later?

TZ: It’s been a lot of fun revisiting these songs, but also a lot of work because I was rarely playing standard guitar chords and it can take me a long time to figure out what the heck I was doing. When we perform live though, it is still a great feeling and makes the time spent preparing totally worth it.

CB: It feels completely familiar and natural. But, I also feel powerful playing this music, in ways I don’t normally feel. I think having heard and seen more music in the intervening years I have a more nuanced appreciation for what we did and continue to do.  I recognized our chemistry back then but I have a richer sense of it now. 


The two mainstay members of Come are long-time collaborators Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw. What has been the key to your lasting musical relationship? 

TZ: For me, I just really love Chris’s guitar playing and his sense of humor! I always learn new things from playing with him and always enjoy hearing him play. We’ve known each other for quite a while at this point, and have been through a lot of ups and downs. Through it all, he has been a kind and trusted friend.

CB: Thalia and I have had a really unique and great bond from the first time we played together. Really electric and special. I’m still such a big fan of her, too, as a singer, songwriter, and guitar player. We’ve had a really supportive and evolving friendship over time. She continues to observe things in ways that are new, informative, and inspiring to me. And, you know, we can goof around and we’ve got each other’s backs. 

The band and your individual members have the great pleasure of touring the world – what is your favorite city to play?

TZ: I definitely have a few favorites, I don’t think I could pick just one. In the U.S., probably New York, San Francisco, and Chicago are the most consistently fun, and in Europe it would be Berlin, Paris, and London.

CB: Oh man, so many. New York, Cambridge, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland (both Portlands!), Austin, New Orleans, Lausanne, Bologna, Rotterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona … right now Kingston NY is a favorite!


While no one in the band is from Boston, you came here and stayed (save a few short-term relocations to New York, Seattle). What is it about the city that makes you still call it home?

TZ: The size, the ocean, and of course friends and family.

CB: It came to feel like home again after a long period of roaming. I moved back here five years ago and am really content here. Friends, family and something indefinable … it feels right. It took a long time. I’m not from New England but I really came to love it. 

I have to ask about GG Allin. Chris was the drummer? Give me a fly-on-the-wall description of one show with GG Allin’s band. 

CB: I only did one show with him and it was done in a fairly low-key, incognito way. We were all in drag and played under an assumed name. It differed from his usual shows, he really wanted to sing a whole set of songs, rather than simply attack the audience. It got a bit wild but I think it was not a typical show for him, which at that point was usually about two minutes long.

Anngelle Wood is a Boston Radio DJ known for her time at local institutions WFNX, WBCN, and WZLX. She is host of the long-running show, Boston Emissions, and produces the annual Rock & Roll Rumble music festival and showcase. You can reach Anngelle at [email protected].


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