For a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist, Wipers’ Greg Sage is a bit of a softie. “Why do people hate each other?,” he sings on Over The Edge’s “What Is,” “Why can’t it be just brother and sister?” But, while those questions may sound like direct descendants of the free love ideals of the late 60’s, in Sage’s hands they speak more about isolation and longing than about togetherness and harmony. That angsty tug of desiring closeness—from a lover, from society, from one’s fellow man—and believing oneself unworthy or incapable of it pops up all over Wipers’ third album. Over The Edge was the follow-up to their breakthrough, Youth Of America, and you could string the two album titles together to paint a pretty accurate portrait of the characters that populate Sage’s songs: Youth Of America Over The Edge. Like Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye, Sage sounds like an old soul trapped in a teenage mind-frame—on one song he’s “Living in Doom Town,” in another, “Only the good die young”—and, as a result, Over The Edge turns out an album-length skateboarding soundtrack. Behind every kick-flip lurks the possibility of broken bones.
Largely forgotten among the indie rock and post-punk trailblazers of the early 80’s, Wipers proved chiefly instrumental in the development of the Seattle-based sound that became grunge in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Mudhoney, Alice In Chains, and, yup, Nirvana all picked up both the innate longing for contact in Sage’s tunes, and his incredible ability to write what were essentially pop songs with a punk rock sensibility. Amongst their 1983 peers, however, Wipers’ sullenness stands in stark contrast to the aggro punk that dominated the time. It’s almost as if Sage predicted or pre-empted his own band’s outsider legacy. On “The Lonely One,” for example, Sage practically lays out Wipers’ mission statement: “For all the lonely ones, who live life in the dreams/ It's so cold and lonely outside, so it seems./ So you keep on searching, anyway./ Maybe you'll find someone tomorrow, cuz you haven't today.”
-Marty Brown, 2007