Vern Rumsey, co-founder and bassist of American post-hardcore act Unwound, has died at the age of 47. The musician’s death was confirmed by Conan Neutron, who was Rumsey’s bandmate in new band Household Gods.
“Absolutely stunned and shocked. Vern Rumsey is gone. I have few details. One of the sweetest and most pure hearts I know and one of my favorite bass players of all time. I can barely process this right now,” wrote Neutron on Facebook yesterday (August 6).
Rumsey formed Unwound with guitarist/vocalist Justin Trosper and drummer Brandt Sandeno in 1991, with Sara Lund replacing Sandeno the following year. Rumsey performed on every Unwound record, from their self-titled 1991 debut until their eighth and final album, 2001’s critically-acclaimed ‘Leaves Turn Inside You’. Unwound broke up a year later in 2002.
In addition to his work with Unwound and Household Gods, Rumsey performed in bands such as Long Hind Legs, Fitz of Depression and Witchypoo. He also played bass on Blonde Redhead‘s 1997 album ‘Fake Can Be Just As Good’, and co-ran the label Punk In My Vitamins.
Longtime friend Ken Shipley, who reissued and released several box sets of the band’s releases with his Numero Group label, issued a statement about the musician’s death.
Vern Rumsey 1973-2020
My longtime friend, and Unwound bassist, Vern Rumsey passed away this morning outside Olympia, Washington. He was 47 years old. I had known for some time that he was not well, but his passing has created a new void in these already dark times.
— numerogroup (@numerogroup) August 6, 2020
“Vern was always pushing himself into some new project or another. His willingness to throw everything he had at what seemed like endless walls of indifference was inspiring,” wrote Shipley on Twitter.
“Losing Vern Rumsey is a reminder that an era has ended. That everyone gets old and no longer fits into their shredded and ring-stretched punk band tees. Should you ever require a time machine back, I can think of no better transport than his chugging bass lines.”
In June, Rumsey’s new band Household Gods released their debut album, ‘Palace Intrigue’. In addition to Rumsey and Neutron, the band also featured David Pajo of Slint and Lauren K. Newman, who died in 2019.