Stars of the Lid’s Brian McBride Dead at 53

BrianMcBride - Credit: Steve Molter
BrianMcBride - Credit: Steve Molter

Brian McBride, one half of the ambient duo Stars of the Lid with Adam Wiltzie, has died at the age of 53, a rep from the band’s label Kranky confirmed to Rolling Stone. The cause of death has not been disclosed. The news was also shared via the band’s social media.

“I am deeply saddened to tell everyone that Brian McBride has passed away. I loved this guy & he will be missed,” a post on the duo’s Instagram page read, which included a photo of McBride.

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McBride and Wiltzie formed the band in 1993 in Austin, releasing their debut album, Music for Nitrous Oxide two years later, which included musician Kirk Laktas. They released their next albums as a duo: 1996’s Gravitational Pull vs. the Desire for an Aquatic Life, 1997’s The Ballasted Orchestra, 1998’s Per Aspera Ad Astra, 1999’s Avec Laudenum, and 2001’s The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid. Their final album arrived in 2007, And Their Refinement of the Decline.

The duo told Rolling Stone in 2015 that they recorded The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid and their final album separately, with McBride in Chicago and Wiltzie in Austin and later in Belgium. The two albums were reissued on vinyl by Kranky in 2015.

“Back in those days we used to send DAT tapes to each other in the mail. And, it was sort of a different thing from living in the same place, you know,” McBride told Rolling Stone. “Being so separated was kind of a good thing because it gave us both time to either think through or ruminate about what the other person had done and be a little more attentive and deliberate with what to do next.”

He added: “Working on the music, for me, it’s kind of important to not fake it in some ways, to not try to force this emotional state out of it, to sort of pay attention to what’s going on in your life, if you’re feeling inspired or motivated just letting it happen. Especially after you’ve released a bunch of records for a long time, you don’t want to manufacture longing.”

Both members reflected on their music’s rise in popularity, where they went from quiet critical sensations to selling double the amount of records a few years later, which was also met with a growing audience at live shows.

“I remember in the 2000s, I guess like the early portion of the decade, reading things and seeing our name being used as an adjective, which I thought was kind of weird,” McBride recalled. “One of the things I started to notice was that when we would play some shows, different kinds of groups of people that I didn’t even know were groups would sort of come out of the woodwork and say that they listen to the music. Like a group of science fiction writers or people at yoga studios or new parents. I don’t really expect anybody to listen to the music, to be perfectly honest.”

In addition to his work as Stars of the Lid, McBride released two solo albums: 2005’s When the Detail Lost Its Freedom and 2010’s The Effective Disconnect, which also served as the score to the 2009 documentary Vanishing of the Bees.

McBride was also in the band Bell Gardens with Kenneth James Gibson. Their debut EP Hangups Need Company dropped in 2010, with their debut full-length Full Sundown Assembly arriving two years later. Their sophomore LP, Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions was released in 2014.

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