The Rembrandts Return With 'How Far Would You Go': Premiere

Kim Fox
The Rembrandts

The Rembrandts are there again for us -- 18 years after their last studio album.

But Phil Solem and Danny Wilde, the duo behind the hit theme from Friends, have not been idle during that long interim leading up to the new Via Satellite and its opening track, "How Far Would You Go," premiering exclusively below.

"We never really stopped," Wilde tells Billboard. "When I first heard that, that it's our first effort in 18 years, I was like, 'That can't be right,' because we've been working ever since." Wilde adds that Via Satellite "has been done in about five different configurations" over the years, leading up to the 10-song set that's coming out Aug. 23 on Blue Elan Records.

"We finished this thing several times over," Solem concurs. "Every time we'd be ready to release it, several things would come up that kind of put a crimp in our plans. A lot of people were telling us, 'You should just do your own thing and not worry about getting signed,' so we were just waiting for things to come together and that just never happened several times in a row."

The result was a stockpile of material for the duo to choose from for Via Satellite, but the Rembrandts we hear on the album don't veer far from the jangle and power pop of the five albums the duo released between 1990 and 2001. "It's a style that kind of comes and goes," Solem says of the set, which explores everything from the Mersey bounce of "Me and Fate" to the West Coast country rock of "Now" and "Come to Californ-i-ya" to the Pettyish melodicism of "Count On You." "We're not going to try to ride a wave or change what we do to fit in. It was inevitable this time would come. I think we're more comfortable having some action with the current musicality that the world seems to be vibing to."

Wilde adds that, "We've been doing it for so long together, it's kind of nice to just tune out all the noise and just focus on what it is we do and not try to be influenced by what's popular or what's cool. We're beyond that. We’re not kids anymore. We just want to make music for ourselves, and hopefully it resonates with a few people out there."

"How Far Would You Go," meanwhile, was the last song the Rembrandts wrote for the album, "where we actually sat down and composed at my studio" in Los Angeles, according to Wilde. "It's quirky," says Solem, who lives in Nashville. "It's got some interesting tongue-in-cheek stuff going on. We let the universe come back and see what its interpretation of the song is -- then we'll tell you what it's about."

The Rembrandts previewed some of the Via Satellite material to a packed house during Blue Elan's South By Southwest showcase, and the group has a handful of dates lined up to promote the album, starting May 31 in Minneapolis. A "proper tour," according to Wilde, will probably wait until the spring of 2020 -- when it's even possible there will be yet another Rembrandts album finished. "We definitely have another album of songs recorded, and probably half that again written -- we just needed to record them and decide what goes where," Wilde says. "There's a lot of stuff around, so, yeah, probably not another 18 years."