The Children… return with “A Sudden Craving”

A Sudden Craving is the second album from The Children…, a collaboration between Michael Wiener, Jim Coleman, and Phil Puleo. The group put out their debut album in 2009 and recorded new material over the following decade. But with no specific goal for a new album and the members being busy with various projects, the material went unreleased until now.

Wiener is a vocalist, songwriter, actor, writer, curator, and educator who has performed in and produced events at theaters and multidisciplinary venues across NYC and around the country. His new avant-pop collaboration with composer Michael Schumacher and Jose Navas/Merce Cunningham/Stephen Petronio alum Cori Kresge will debut publicly at Artist’s Space, NYC, this winter. Coleman was a member of Cop Shoot Cop and went on to bands such as Human Impact and This Wilderness. He has also composed music for independent films, television and streaming services, and theater productions. Puleo was also in Cop Shoot Cop as well as Swans and Angels of Light. He is also an accomplished watercolor pet portraitist and graphic artist and did the score for “What You Could Not Visualise,” Marco Porsia’s documentary on the band Rema Rema.

Other core members of The Children…, both live and in the studio, are John Nowlin (bass), Rock Savage (drums), and Kirsten McCord (cello). Former Swans guitarist Norman Westberg and clarinetist Johnny Gasper also appear on A Sudden Craving. Vocalist Shelley Hirsch has been part of several live shows, and John Andersen was a founding member and key early collaborator.

Over a Zoom interview, Coleman discussed A Sudden Craving and how it came to be released now.

So this is your second album, but it’s been quite a long time since the first one. Has the project been active throughout the years?

Jim Coleman: So it’s ebbed and flowed. It’s always ebbed and flowed. And even before the first album, which was I think 2009, we had varying times of being productive and creative and then it not being so much. We did a number of shows that were always very theatrical, non-typical spaces and involving a lot of projection and some sets and stuff like that, even on a minor scale. The material on this record was really created in 2010s, I guess. So it spans a wide range of time and truth be told, we haven’t been that active in the last few years. Chandra [at Erototox Decodings] wanted to put the record out and it’s kind of invigorated us and given us some new life. We’ll see where it goes. But going back to these songs, and it includes a lot of really great musicians on it as well, I’m really glad it is coming out. It’s a testament to a time and kind of broad creative effort.

Given that timeframe, what was it like revisiting the material for this release?

Jim Coleman: Where we left a lot of the material, I, at the time felt like, yeah, there’s some strong stuff there, but it needs to be produced, in a way. Coming back to it, after leaving it for a little while, I really feel the strength of it with all of its imperfections. I mean, that’s part of what it is. There are discrepancies in production values, there are mistakes. It is not a perfect record, and I think that’s one of its strengths. So when I went back to it, it felt unique and special in its current form. So through time, I kind of learned to embrace that, I guess.

Back when you had initially made the material, had you been intending to put a new album out sooner? How did it come to not be released until now?

Jim Coleman: We didn’t really even have our eyes on it making an album. I mean, it’s funny, I make so much music in different personas and I don’t really think about .. and this is probably not a good thing, I don’t really think about ‘Well, how’s this going to get out?’ Eventually I do. And a lot of times it’s like, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to get out’ and it doesn’t even come out. So that was the case with this where we were just making the music with no real end game in sight. It was kind of a surprise to be like, ‘Oh yeah, okay, so let’s put this out.’ And then we have a lot of other material that we were working on, but this is kind of what we pulled into making this album.

You mentioned that you didn’t really have an end game when you were making the material initially, but is there a relationship between it and other music you were doing? Do you feel it may have influenced other work? Has there been overlap over the years?

Jim Coleman: There’s been overlap. I mean, for what I’m doing right now, last summer I put out an ambient record. I’m working currently on a Human Impact record. I have a bunch of weird cut-up, almost musique concrète stuff that I’m looking at how to get that out. I’ve got this other collaboration with Robbie Leaver, a bunch of stuff sitting there. And I’m doing a bunch of collaborations with my partner Beth B. We’re doing a series of installations and performances in Berlin this summer that are kind of story based and based on particular people. Very cinematic in a way. The approach to The Children… definitely bleeds through a lot of that, and yet they’re all individual and unique.

What made you pick the name The Children…? When I was looking up the previous album, I noticed another band called The Children.

Jim Coleman: So The Children…, our name has an ellipsis after it as far as a differentiator. I don’t even know if that band existed at the time. I don’t know if we even cared, but we felt that our approach to this project was based on experience, exploration, play, and this kind of mindset of being a child, taking risks, being vulnerable.

In terms of putting this album together, did you do much additional production or other work on the material? Or was it just more of a case of selecting which you wanted to use?

Jim Coleman: So a lot of it, there wasn’t that much production, revised production prepping the material for this album. That was in stark contrast in a way to the first album, which was almost overproduced. And this is definitely raw in comparison.

Are you doing more shows now in support of the album? Is there anything you want to describe about what your plans might be?

Jim Coleman: We’re looking at that. We all have pretty full schedules and we’re in geographically different locations. All of those are challenges, but they’re not like, ‘Oh, that’s not going to happen.’ So we are in discussions about that. I don’t know what to tell you other than that, but we’re talking about it.

Could you describe multimedia aspects of the ones that you had done in the past?

Jim Coleman: I think the first show we did was at Monkey Town, a venue in Brooklyn, and we took over the whole room with projections. So you were in this environment of projections and it was kind of trippy. One of the shows we did was at St. Mark’s Church where we worked with different props and also had weather balloons with projections on those, and some stuff happening up in the balconies, some theatrical moments. Even how we play can involve a lot of different instrumentation. And even that, it’s kind of a sprawl in terms of who’s playing what and different people playing different instruments. So even that can be kind of theatrical. But I’ve always strived to bring in projections. Michael’s always strived to bring in some more theatrical elements and storylines.

What do you see as being in the future for The Children…? Has getting this album ready to go inspired you to think about what’s next?

Jim Coleman: We’ve been talking about other tracks that weren’t on the album, but are worthwhile. And all that I think is a precursor to like, ‘Okay, do we want to make new material? And how does that work?’ Again, the core members are really Michael and myself, we really were the founders of The Children… Phil became deeply involved pretty quickly thereafter and through it. Kirsten McCord, cellist, she’s been really, really involved in it. And there’s a wide cast of musicians. So the recording also, it happened all over the place. A lot of the core recording happened with Michael, Phil, and I in upstate New York in an artist’s studio. But then, we’d go into different people’s houses and sometimes like Martin Bisi’s studios and then just start recording with different people in different places.

Since you have been involved with many, many different projects as a musician, does The Children… allow you to do anything specific that you are not doing elsewhere? Is there some kind of creative need that you feel fulfills in particular?

Jim Coleman: On the album, I was playing a variety of instruments that I don’t usually play, although I love to. So I was playing a lot of French horn. I was playing hurdy gurdy, melodica, my safe space is with electronics. With The Children…, I tried to really move away from that, although it’s still part of that. But again, in that spirit of exploration and openness, really trying to open up the instrumentation. So that was interesting to me. And also, I was even playing a little bit of bass and stuff like that, which I don’t even know how to play, but was kind of meandering through it. Some of our live stuff that we’ve done, depending, has been really much more open and improv-based. We might do a couple of songs, but it really goes into this unscripted territory. I’ve become comfortable with that kind of risk taking. It wasn’t part of my past so much. But we’ve found some kind of magic moments in that.

“A Sudden Craving” can be purchased at