The Wrens’ Charles Bissell Has Cancer

In December 2014, Charles Bissell of the Wrens offered an update on the status of his band’s long-awaited fourth album — the follow-up to their 2003 (2003!) masterpiece, The Meadowlands. Bissell reported the album was “done” (which maybe it was?) and it would be released in 2015 (which it definitely was not), and in the context of delivering that encouraging bit of information, he also mentioned that he’d recently overcome a battle with sepsis — “near-death pneumonia” — an ordeal that “changed a bunch of stuff, incl. priorities that have kept me toiling away on music to the exclusion of a lot of other things.” Today, as Pitchfork reports, Bissell shared another update on the Wrens’ Facebook page, offhandedly alluding to his band’s still-forthcoming new album, but mostly just detailing some WAY SHITTIER news: While Bissell’s doctors were treating his sepsis, they discovered that the disease had been caused by multiple myeloma, “a white blood cell cancer sorta thing.” According to Bissell, it’s treatable if not curable. In his own words:

[B]ecause I’m “young” for this (avg. age of diagnosis is usually more like 70) and because targeted treatments have advanced so much esp. in the last few years, my prognosis is almost certainly not as dire as googling might make it seem.

It’s not “curable” per se – but here that’s not in the usual sense of a dramatic Brian’s Song “get your affairs in order, you’ve got nine months”. Here it means more that you’re stuck with a longish weekly hospital commute for meds/chemo from here on out (with sooner/later, possibly/probably a bone marrow transplant (not as crazy as it sounds, more on that also below)). So really almost more like a chronic condition like say, diabetes. If diabetes came with free bone marrow.

Bissell revealed that he started treatment last week in a clinical trial, and “there’s a lot of optimism [and] they’re even talking cure stuff.” It’s a long update, and if you care about the band, you should probably read it in full. Needless to say, the exact status of the Wrens seems pretty fucking irrelevant in light of this news, but because most of us here came to care about the guy because we discovered and love his music, this section seemed pretty relevant:

[I] don’t know to what extent things will be different with this next record because of all this (i.e. mostly touring stuff, I guess) the whole thing has definitely re-shuffled my priority deck. And for a record that’s largely about time, how one spend’s what time one has, how I specifically cooked through a half-decade-plus ironically making an album about allotting one’s time at the sacrifice of…well, actually living it, I’m at this point even less inclined to hop in a tour van on the multi-week plan.

Really dude, do not worry about any of that shit. Just get better.

Tags: The Wrens