Thursday, April 28, 2011
By Justin Schwier
Merge Records/Temporary Residence Limited Records
When this split 7'' was announced for Record Store Day 2011, my mind was kind of blown at the bizarre, but incredible pairing and it easily became my #1 want. Thankfully, I was able to find a copy in my multi-store travels this year. This split is a perfect idea: completely random and out of left field – exactly the kind of thing that makes Record Store Day fun and not the, “trick people into buying re-mastered, $30+ versions of dollar bind albums” type of ploy that it becomes more and more each year.
I’m a relative newbie to the Superchunk fan camp, but I’ve fallen hard for them, especially after last year's Majesty Shredding album. On this one, they deliver a cool relatively straight up rendition of The Misfits' “Horror Business”. They rock it out a little bit towards the end to add personal flair to it, but it’s a solid cover of this classic tune from the Legacy of Brutality compilation. They did a great job making this sound perfectly lo-fi enough to match the original recordings too. All around a rad cover.
Coliseum is the highlight for me on this split. They deliver a mean, mid-tempo version of The Misfits' “Bullet”. This is a fine example of how a small tweak of the tempo can really alter a song and make it into something unexpected and great. They play down the over-the-top-ness of Danzig’s vocals and keep the heat down to a low simmer with singer/guitarist, Ryan Patterson, growling the words along and really extracting a near-Sabbath-esque sludge riff out of the guitar line. Awesome and over with far too quickly so it’s meant a lot of repeat playing of this single.
Thankfully, this came with a download card too, so I can blast these two covers all the time. The cover art is a simple design with half-toned pictures used to great effect and my copy came on a cool green (monster?) mash-colored vinyl.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
By Chris Carlton
Fat Wreck Chords 7''
The new Teenage Bottlerocket 7", Mutilate Me is jam-packed with what I love about this band: straightforward, fun punk rock songs in the vein of Screeching Weasel and The Ramones; not to say they copy those bands, they just take that style and up the ante to make it their own. Side A is the title track. The song jumps right in and never lets up. This song will stick in your head like a bad joke for days on end, and that's a good thing. The production value is top-notch, bringing out the best in singer/guitarist, Ray Carlisle's vocals as well as the backup vocals of singer/guitarist, Kody Templeman. Lyrically it's a funny song about the simple, yet painful, pleasures of S&M (hey, who doesn't like a good choking every now and again?), all wrapped up in a nice little package. Throw in a kick-ass guitar solo and you have the makings of yet another classic from Laramie, Wyoming's finest.
Side B has a short, but sweet slice of greatness called "Punk House Of Horror." Kody takes over vocal duties for this tune about "a place in the city you don't want to go," where the owner smells like urine and Crass posters hang on the door. Kinda sounds like my first apartment. The band is tight and the production is great. I only wish the guitar solo was more in the forefront and not so far back in the mix. With that aside, it's a damn good tune.
This EP ends with a cover of Bad Religion's "Henchmen." Some people are not big fans of the cover song. I, myself, don't mind if it's done right. Justice has to be made in order for it to work. And TBR do BR loads of justice. It has the layered backup vocals that BR are known for. It goes from mid tempo to an almost thrash-style beat at the drop of a hat. I don't think the original was able to pull that off so effortlessly. Props to drummer Brandon Carlisle and bassist Miguel Chen for being one of, if not the, tightest rhythm sections in all of punk rock. All in all, this is a wonderful slab of vinyl to hold us over until the band's next full-length.
1219 on black vinyl/red cover
305 on red vinyl/red cover
304 on blue vinyl/blue cover
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
(Mike Byrne, guitarist, pictured right)
By Chris Carlton
Squid Pro Quo: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Squid Pro Quo, Mike. Can you tell me how you got involved in Dan Vapid & The Cheats?
Mike Byrne: "Hey Chris, thanks for asking me for an interview. I need a better public image since the "To Catch A Predator" episode aired. You all know what happened at SXSW. When Dan got back, we needed some help at were I work, so Dan was coming into work with me every day. Dan's mentioned in the past how he would love to put a band together or play a show doing songs he has written for all his bands. A friend of mine who works with the owner of the Cobra Lounge contacted me asking if Dan would be interested in doing a show at the Cobra in place of Weaselfest. Dan was a little hesitant about it. I offered to play guitar if he needed someone. After about a week of thinking about it, he decided to to it and he gave me a list of songs to learn. At first, I thought it might be just a one-off gig, but we are going to go ahead and make a band out of it and record and play shows."
SPQ: Besides the upcoming gig Memorial Day weekend at Cobra Lounge, are there any more gigs planned as of right now?
MB: "We have one other show that we are planning on playing, but we are working the details out with the promoter. I guess I shouldn't say anything yet until it's official. We plan on playing out and we will probably do another show in Chicago sometime this summer. We plan on doing out of town shows too. The only thing we probably won't do is any long-term touring. It's just too hard with jobs and two of the guys in the band are married and Dan is having a kid soon."
SPQ: You were playing with Kurt Baker (The Leftovers) recently. Will you be doing double duty playing with Kurt and The Cheats at the show?
MB: "I will be doing double duty at this show. Luckily for me, I know a good portion of Kurt's set already from playing with him back in December. I think we are adding some new songs to the set, so I will have to learn those. I already know all the songs in Dan's set, so that shouldn't be a problem."
SPQ: Being a huge Off Broadway fan myself, I could only imagine what it would be like to play with Cliff Johnson. So, I have to ask...what IS it like?
MB: "Hahaha, it's actually pretty interesting. I've been a huge Off Broadway fan myself for over 11 years. I never thought I would be playing with Cliff in a band much less in Off Broadway. It's different because I've played in punk bands my whole life. It's a different style of playing and it's more challenging as far as chords and song structure. Cliff and the bass player Greg are super talented guys and I feel very inadequate playing with them sometimes because they grew up learning from the Beatles and I grew up learning from the Misfits and bands like that. But the two styles do work good together. The shows are fun because we play totally different places than The Methadones did. We play dingy bars on the Northwest side or sports bars in the suburbs."
SPQ: Is Off Broadway back? And if so, are you a part of the band?
MB: "Off Broadway is back; I'm the guitar player along with Simon (Lamb), who played with Dan too. We've talked about recording some new stuff and we definitely have plans to play a lot of shows. We are in the process of getting a new drummer. We had someone, but he just joined Badfinger, so we are back to looking."
SPQ: Any plans for recording new music with any of the bands previously mentioned?
MB: "We definitely plan on recording with Dan Vapid and the Cheats. Dan has a lot of songs written. I'm always really excited to hear new material from Dan. We've discussed it with Off Broadway, but we don't have any new material to record but Cliff has a lot of old unreleased songs that we could record. I think Dan and Cliff are two of my favorite songwriters and I'm lucky to be playing with both of them."
SPQ: Looking back at not only your career in music, but all the bands you've seen come out of Chicago, what are some of the high points for you?
MB: "I think growing up in the 'burbs and being lucky enough to come into the city at a young age and see all these great bands. Some like Raygun and The Effigies who were already established at the time, but seeing bands like Screeching Weasel, Sludgeworth, Gear, No Empathy, The Vindictives and a lot of others when they weren't as popular as they got. McGregor's in Elmhurst was a cool club that I spent many Sunday and Wednesday nights, seeing a lot of these bands. Plus you had the Wrigleyside on Clark St. that Marc Ruvalo booked at and Isabelle's on Grand Ave. that Joey Vindictive booked at. There were a lot of short-lived clubs that lasted only a year that put on great shows. I really miss when I was younger and was excited about seeing bands. I don't get that very often now."
SPQ: What's you all-time favorite venue to see a live show or play at?
MB: "Seeing bands for me was always cool at McGregor's. They had decent food and always put on great bands. I saw so many amazing shows there. Green Day, Pegboy, Screeching Weasel, Los Crudos, Sludgeworth, Monsula, 411, Born Against, Smoking Popes; there are so many. As far as playing, I always loved playing the old Bottom Lounge. I thought it was a really cool place and the owners were really nice guys. I always had a blast playing there."
SPQ: Who influenced you as a musician?
MB: "Growing up, I listened to metal when I was a kid and then got into punk and hardcore. The band that totally made me want to start a band and play guitar was The Misfits. When I first heard "Walk Among Us," I stopped listening to metal and started buying punk records. Some people growing up loved KISS and The Misfits were my KISS. When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I would come home from school every day and put on "Walk Among Us." I can still listen to that album all the time. As I got older, I would say Cheap Trick has a big influence. They wrote amazing tunes and they looked cool. Before I met Dan, I always, and still do, think he writes these amazing tunes. When we started playing together, it was cool to see him take two or three chords and turn them into these great songs. I still love watching him do that."
SPQ: Of all the bands you've played with, who did you like playing with more and why?
MB: "The band I had the most fun in was The Methadones. I got to play on a bunch of albums and tour the States and Canada and go to Europe. It was a blast. Like any band, there were some not-so-fun things about it, but for the most part, I had a great time. Plus it was the longest band I ever played in; 10 years. I played in a bunch of other bands that had some fun moments, but they never lasted to long. Before playing in The Methadones, I played in The Vindictives for about two years and I learned a lot about playing lead guitar from the bass player, Johnny. He is a really talented guy who showed me a lot of cool stuff on the guitar."
SPQ: If you had the chance to see any band/artist that you haven't seen yet, who would it be?
MB: "Obviously there are a lot of bands that are broken up that I would want to see. But bands that are still around? The Forgotten Rebels, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Joe Jackson, 20/20, the Vancouver Subhumans. That's all I can think of now."
SPQ: And now the question we've all been waiting for; what are your top 3 favorite places to get chicken wings?
MB: "Fantastic question. First is Yakzie's in Chicago. Hands down the best wings in Chicago and the world. Amazing sauce. The wings are small, but in a good way. Second would be "Down the Hatch" in New York City. They are a very close second to Yakzie's. Good sized wings and a very similar sauce to Yakzie's. Third I would say right now is Wingstop on Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. I'm partial to them because I live closeby and the wings are consistent and the owner is really nice and he gave me a free meal once."
SPQ: As always, I want to extend a big thank you for taking the time to speak with Squid Pro Quo, Mike. Always good to hear from you and see what you're up to.
MB: "Thanks for the interview Chris, as always I think you should wear tighter trousers. I will see you on May 27th at the Cobra for the first Dan Vapid and the Cheats show."
Monday, April 25, 2011
By Jason Duarte
Recess Records CD/LP
San Pedro, CA's Todd Congelliere (Toys That Kill, F.Y.P., Stoned At Heart) not only fronts Underground Railroad To Candyland as well as the aforementioned groups, but he'll be putting out his band's new record April 26th via his label, Recess Records. Where do I start with this band...the first time I heard URTC's first record, Bird Roughs, I thought it was really, really weird. It was just a kooky, progressively jumpy album with songs that didn't really make sense to me. But the more I listened to it, the more I fell in love. I saw the band live a couple of times and really got a feel for what they're all about - pretty much having fun and partying and not taking yourself too seriously. Then it all clicked and the senseless made sense all of a sudden. That being said, when the opportunity to review Knows Your Sins came along, I jumped, much like their backup singer, Jack Blast does during the band's live performance.
"That I Dunno" and "Jimmy V" are the first two tracks - and arguably the best on the record. They pick up right where "Bird Roughs" left off. The similar progressive, minimalist sort of strumming and drums beats ease you into the album. Then "Jimmy V" comes in - more upbeat and more progressive - the lyrics are more attention-grabbing. The chorus is a bit catchier. I'm already pulled in an bobbing my head and tapping my feet. It's that kind of record, but I didn't know I was doing it already.
The production and recording and mastering and all that stuff is way better on Knows Your Sins than Bird Roughs. The more I listen to this album, the more it grows on me, much like their first one. It was like having to go through all that, "Do I really want to keep listening to this record?" stuff all over again, which was interesting. Usually, I latch onto a band once I know them, but URTC keeps it interesting. They are relatively the same as they were on Bird Roughs; I mean, not much has changed at all. It's very upbeat and catchy - but this new one is different in that it's broken up a bit by an instrumental track, "Run! Chicken! Run!" and a 0:45 clip track titled, "Animals-30 Seconds." Not really sure what this one is referring to (as you know from Bird Roughs, there's an audio clip of the famous "I Like Turtles" YouTube video sensation).
All in all, URTC has brought us another fun-filled album filled with quirkiness, lingering, upbeat melodies and the stuff that they do best. Keep crankin' 'em out, Todd.
Photo by MXV
By Chris Carlton
Interviewer extraordinaire Chris Carlton chatted with The Bollweevils' guitarist, Ken (Weevil) Fitzner about The Bollweevils' humble beginning, end and lots of interesting stuff in-between.
Squid Pro Quo: The Bollweevils have been a big part of the Chicago punk scene for about the last 20 years. How did you guys get started?
Ken Fitzner: "Bob, our bass player, and I started really getting into punk at the same time. We would go see Naked Raygun. It was such an intense experience, I think it just almost forced us to want to form a band. We met Daryl there. Initially, we thought his friend Paul would make the better singer; turns out it was Daryl. We always battled the front, which meant we had to get the wall of death from the skins, but we held our own. We originally had a drummer, Joe; he played our first two shows with us. The first one was at a place called Club Stodola on the north side. Bob was singing at that point. Then I sent a letter with a tape to Naked Raygun. I had forgot to include a phone number. I just wanted to let them know that I loved the band. One day, I got a letter back asking us if we wanted to play with them at the Metro. It was the Metro's 9th anniversary show. We opened the show. The next night, Pearl Jam played in the same slot we had. After that show, Joe quit, we found Brian and figured out that the only way we could play shows was if we set them up ourselves. The rest is history."
SPQ: I had the chance to see the band live a couple times since your return to the stage and it felt like you never left! What was it like getting back up there and playing those classic songs after so may years away?
KF: "I'll speak for the band first; we have always been the type of band that didn't need a lot of practice. I think we might practice once or twice before a show, so it easy to get back up there. Once we are on stage, it is amazing most of the time. Our new drummer, Pete, is so amazing, it makes it. I can get tired of playing the old songs, but when the crowd gets into it, it makes it worth it."
SPQ: With the release of the "Weevillive In Color" DV, and seeing some old footage, I was wondering how much more footage is in the vaults and will that footage ever see the light of day?
KF: "We have a lot; some of it is good, some not. I'd love to YouTube it. We'll see how embarrassed we want to get."
SPQ: I know Naked Raygun was a big influence on the band. But what are your personal musical influences?
KF: "I could not live without AC/DC, The Smiths, Government Issue, Bad Religion, Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, The Cult, Dag Nasty, Minor Threat, Old 97s, Glucifer and Foreigner. Kinda an eclectic mix, I also love ragtime jazz; mostly anything with a huge guitar."
SPQ: As documented in the Weevilive album that was recorded at The Metro on the "Heavyweights" tour, Daryl said the band would never play there again. What was it like actually playing Metro again after that fiasco? (Memo: Security at Metro was roughing up friends of the band and members of the audience, almost causing a riot to break out).
KF: "Ha. Well, interesting story; our first show was with Daryl at the Metro with Raygun. It was fun, we had seen may shows there already. Then when we were part of the Underdog Collective, Ben Weasel came to a meeting and told us about the Metro fucking bands over and how security beat on kids. We signed an open letter stating we would not play there. After a while, as we got more popular, Marc Ruvalo of No Empathy was able to negotiate a deal for punk bands; $5 door, no merchandise cut, no gate around the stage, etc. We decided that it would make sense for us to try it. We have always been pretty independent as far as how we do business. I think that used to get under the skin of some "scenesters", I think it still pisses some people off. Then the infamous 4th of July show. All along, we knew something was different, by the time we played, the crowd was into it. Funny thing is, nothing the crowd did was any different than what they had done at any show. The security got a little out of hand, we were pissed off and Daryl's famous quote, "We're The Bollweevils, we're never playing here the fuck again."
We had had a number of great shows there. I guess time heals all wounds. I remember talking to the guitarist of Pennywise (Fletcher) and him telling me that they told him, "they didn't want another Bollweevils show." It was Big Black banned before us so it was a nice torch to carry. When we did our "comeback" show, it was a benefit. It was at the Metro, we said yes. Funny thing is that most of the people in bands that signed the letter have played there with other bands. In fact, some have worked at the Metro. In some ways, I think we played a small part in making it "OK" for a punk band to play there."
SPQ: I know that Dr. Strange Records isn't doing a lot anymore as far as releases go. Is there any plans to have the old albums re-released? Specifically the out of print "Stick Your Neck Out" and "Heavyweight" albums?
KF: "All our albums are available online, iTunes, Napster, etc. I would love to strike a deal with a small label to get some of it back on LP or CD, I'm just not sure if a label would be interested."
SPQ: At the end of the "Heavyweights" album, there's about 10 minutes of recorded conversation. Anyone who owns the album will know what I'm talking about. I gotta ask you, was any of that filmed? That was some funny stuff!
KF: "Most of that was recorded on a hand-held tape player our drummer Brian had. We went to Missoula, MT to play a festival show for $100 and got payed with a check that bounced. We drove out on a Friday, played on Saturday, drove home Sunday. Needless to say, we were slaphappy."
SPQ: After The Bollweevils split up, you formed The Feds and released an amazing album, "Chicago Bureau" as well as the "Classified" 7". Do you think fans embraced your new band as much as The Bollweevils?
KF: "I don't think we were around long enough for the fans to catch on, although until the new Bollweevils stuff, it is the best-sounding stuff and best songwriting I've done."
SPQ: Any plans for a Feds reunion gig with The Bollweevils?
KF: "Um, Louie the drummer, who I love, lives in LA, who knows where Mark Piss is these days, maybe in a gutter, so no - probably no reunion, although we have talked about The Bollweevils covering a song."
SPQ: You guys have hinted about a show coming up in the summer and a new single. Is there gonna be a new full length in the works? Possibly a tour?
KF: "I think we want to release singles ala "Singles Going Steady" (Buzzcocks). We have quite a few things written. Touring would be fun, except we all have jobs and families, so unless it works for everyone, I'm not sure."
SPQ: How can fans get in touch with you and the band? Is there a website you want to plug where we can get news on up coming shows, releases, tour info and merch?
KF: "We have a Facebook and MySpace page. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be remiss if I didn't mention my band after the Feds: Callaghan; probably the most fun band I was ever in. The challenge for you will be to find our releases."
Friday, April 22, 2011
Photo by A.V. Club
By Chris Carlton
Squid Pro Quo: A lot of people know you from your time in the Chicago punk scene as founding guitarist of Screeching Weasel. But they may not know that you're also a talented playwright. What was your first play, and how did you get started in theater?
John Pierson: "Well actually, if we are talking about Chicago, I think more people know me from theater. I get many more acknowledgments on the street from my theater projects than any of the bands I have been in. My first full-length play was in high school as the waiter in "Death Of A Salesman." But at Columbia College, I went there for five years and never auditioned once. I was more into taking literature classes than acting. I studied improvisation for about 10 years and still teach classes in that. I toured for a couple years with an improv troupe called Sheila. The first play that I wrote and performed was called "The Philosophy Of Nonthings," which was the inspiration for my production & publishing company called Hope And Nonthings."
SPQ: Can you give our readers a little history on The Neo-Futurists?
JP: "I teach 8 week classes on Neo-Futurism so a brief history leaves out a major understanding. Here is the website. But we do have a manifesto, which I am including right here:
"Neo-Futurism In A Nutshell"
Neo-Futurism is a new approach to performance that advocates the complete awareness and inclusion of the actual world within the theater in order to achieve a goal: to bring people to a greater understanding of themselves and each other.
Rather than upholding contemporary theatrical conventions of character, setting, plot, and the separation of audience and performer, Neo-Futurism aims to present actual life on stage by creating a world in the theater which has no pretense or illusion. This means that:
1) You are who you are. Your name is your name. Your age is your age. Your appearance, physical condition, and way of speaking, as well as your personal history and life experiences are none other than your own. You grew up in your hometown. You're gay, you're straight, you're married. You've never been to Seattle. You know who you are and what you've done. Use it.
2) You are where you are. In most cases this means on a "stage" in front of an audience. Currently, specifically, this means you are probably reading this interview off a computer screen. That's not a T.V. you're watching (maybe it is). This isn't a castle in the Alps. The gun is fake. If you need a prop, get it. If the ambience is wrong, change it.
3) You are doing what you are doing. All tasks are actual challenges. If you can't do something, you must be actually physically unable to do it. If you're pulling, really pull. If you're having sex, really have sex. If you forget your lines, you've forgotten your lines. If you're not supposed to know what's going to happen next, make sure as hell you can't know. You're not sleeping on stage, you're lying there with your eyes closed. No need to "act" tired as you enter the stage with an empty suitcase. Fill it up with rocks, run around the block three times. You'll be tired. No need to dredge up a lot of emotion to endow that sheet of paper you're holding with all the seriousness and poignance of your father's death certificate. Bring it in. If your father's alive, what are you doing saying he's not?
4) The time is now. Deal with real events in your current life in your current world. If you broke up with your boyfriend on Tuesday, don't say you're still together on Friday. If a politician pissed you off by what they said six months ago, don't complain about it now. It's history. Write about how it affects you today. Theater is the medium to reflect what is going on now, because theater is going on now. Theater takes place in real time and space. That audience is right in front of you right now. Deal with that.
The bottom line is that Neo-Futurism does not pretend or buy into "the suspension of disbelief" - it does not attempt to take the audience anywhere else at any other time with any other people. The idea is to deal with what is going on right here and now.
These guidelines are not set forth as "rules and regulations" but more as a jumping off point with which, it is hoped, people can find a greater meaning in their everyday lives. The aim is to empower and affirm not just the lives of the performers but the lives of the audience members as well.
Revised May, 2008"
SPQ: Do you find more pleasure in writing and performing as an actor, or as a musician? Or is there an even balance in both?
JP: "For many many years my production of plays was exactly equal to the number of albums I was recording, now they are off a bit, but I think they hover somewhere around 24 each. With Even in Blackouts, people say I was consistently the happiest they have ever seen me. I can feel that while playing with that band. We didn't have as many rules and stress as Weasel. So with EIB, it trumps being onstage for theater. But I really don't think I could live without writing and performing theater."
SPQ: You have also written books for Hopes And Nonthings publishing. One a book of your plays you had written up until that point, and one called Weasels In A Box. Are there any plans for a new book release in the near future?
JP: "I have a new novel coming out in October called "The Last Temptation Of Clarence Odbody". Which is an alternative story to the famous movie and short story, "It's A Wonderful Life." I'm pretty proud of it, I never thought I would write this type of parody book (fan fiction) but I just couldn't get the story out of my head, and after a year I gave in and started writing it. Three years later, it is about to be finished."
SPQ: Besides your writing and acting, you have been a part of some amazing bands over the years. Screeching Weasel, The Mopes and Even In Blackouts have all made such an impact in the Chicago scene, your influence is undeniable. Who influenced you as a musician?
JP: "My influences are varied depending on the band. Growing up I was a huge fan of the guitar work of Brian May (Queen), Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow), and Martin Barre (Jethro Tull) I think those type of bands besides Traffic and Oingo Boingo taught me that it was OK to be weird. I think this added to my odd clothes wearing in Weasel. Most of the solo work that appears in Weasel I believe was influenced by bands like Judas Priest and AC/DC, with perhaps a little Descendents thrown in. Even In Blackouts was my clashing of those influences with the acoustic bands of my youth, Bob Dylan, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, and later, Tom Waits. Punk bands that I would consider influences are few, beyond the people I knew like Lint from Operation Ivy and Chris Barrows from The Pink Lincolns. I loved Keith Morris from The Circle Jerks, and Adrenalin OD were another of my favorites."
SPQ: In the early Weasel days, did you ever think the band would influence a whole generation of punk bands?
JP: "No, I don't think you can ever really know that. But being in a band had always been one of the few things I wanted to do. As a child most kids talk about wanting to be a scientist, doctor, astronaut, but I never had a single thing. I think my family was so busy dealing with divorce, violence and drugs that I never had a chance to consider that stuff. So when I graduated high school I just basically did whatever the hell I wanted, and worked hard to make it happen. And that is still what I do now. I don't ever really settle on being any one thing, but they all seem to have something to do with creativity."
SPQ: When you formed Even In Blackouts, you literally invented a style of music that was never seen until that point, acoustic punk rock. How did you come up with that idea?
JP: "I don't really believe I invented anything. Nothing the band does is very unique. I think it is great and actually pretty smart, but it's all taken from many different influences. It is rooted in the same philosophy that started Screeching Weasel. We just played the things we were interested in void of any positive repercussions beyond our own enjoyment. I think the fact that Ben and I were just pretty damn dedicated people is what made that work. So when I started EIB I purposely said to myself that I needed to start from scratch and do something different. So I started with elements that I saw as very different from SW. A female choir-trained vocalist, acoustic guitars and what I believe to be darker concepts and instrumentation. But what I tried to apply to the band is the energy that excited me from playing punk rock. I think this shows best in the live performances of EIB. It is difficult to play an acoustic guitar that hard and fast, but the wonderful thing is that it creates a desperate energy, like constantly falling off a cliff. It hurts to play like that. For the first couple tours, I couldn't sleep at night because my fingers hurt so badly. Some nights I even cried.
And what could be better than ending this interview with the fact that I do indeed cry?"
SPQ: A huge thanks to John for taking the time to talk with Squid Pro Quo. Such a talented and diverse gentleman. Thanks again, John.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Interesting. I'd like to try this Marky Ramone past sauce out. $88 ppd for a case of 12 jars. That doesn't sound like too bad of a deal, though I wish I could order an individual jar. I also wish it wasn't so novelty, because I know if I get one, I'm going to be weary of opening it. I guess that'd be gross. I should probably open it. Oh, and 10% of the proceeds beneift Autism Speaks. That's pretty cool.
Photo by Stacia Timonere (1987)
By Chris Carlton
Squid Pro Quo: You've been a big part of the Chicago scene for more than 25 years. How has the scene changed since 1984?
John Haggerty: "Everything has changed, for better or worse. This city is almost unrecognizable compared to what it was 25 years ago. The scene was very small and everybody knew each other back then. It seems to be larger and more diverse now."
SPQ: Musicians cite you as being a huge influence on them. Who influenced you as a musician?
JH: "I am very flattered any time I am cited as a positive influence. That's what it is all about for me. When I first picked up the guitar, there was no such thing as punk rock so I gravitated towards blues and blues-derived rock. Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy to name a few."
SPQ: When Pegboy formed in 1990, it was almost like a super-group. You came from Naked Raygun, your brother Joe, from Bloodsport and the Effigies and Larry Damore and Steve Saylors from Bhopal Stiffs. What was the initial reaction from people when they came to see you play live? Were expectations high?
JH: "We were well received right from the beginning, fortunately. I think we were hoping that our prior experience would allow us to skip square one and go on to square two. In that sense, I think expectations were slightly elevated."
SPQ: The band's gone through a few bass players since forming. Do you feel you have a solid line up now with Skinny Mike Thompson in the band?
JH: "I think Skinny is in for the long haul, whatever that may bring."
SPQ: It's been a while since the band's last release. Is there any new material in the works?
JH: "Sorry, still no new material. We have been working on and off on new material for quite some time but haven't come up with anything great. We won't put out anything we think is less than great. There would be no point in doing that."
SPQ: You recently played with Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers in Nefarious Fat Cats. What was it like playing with Jake?
JH: "Playing with Jake Burns is a blast. We used to cover "Suspect Device" back in the Raygun days. Now when I play "Suspect Device," I look to my right and it's Jake Burns himself singing it! Quite a thrill for me. I look forward to playing with him for a long time to come."
SPQ: Looking back at your time in Naked Raygun, did you realize then how much of an influence the band had, not only in the Chicago scene, but in the punk scene in general?
JH: "We had no idea back then that we would make such an impact. We had high hopes of course, but basically, we were doing it to have fun and maybe sell a few records."
SPQ: People remember a lot of things about a Raygun show. From the crowd interaction to the Free Shit! What do you remember most about those shows? Any fond memories?
JH: "People seem to remember me chainsawing a raw turkey one Thanksgiving show at Metro. That was pretty funny. Bits of turkey flesh flying everywhere. Stage divers wiping out on blobs of animal fat. Those were the days, eh?"
SPQ: When you look back at all the music you've contributed to the Chicago punk scene, what are you most proud of?
JH: "I don't think there is any one thing that I can say I am most proud of. I am most happy just to be considered a part of the Chicago punk program."
SPQ: Is there a website where people can get in touch with Pegboy? Maybe find out about upcoming shows and possible releases?
JH: "Yeah, we have a Facebook and a MySpace page."
SPQ: John, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to talk with Squid Pro Quo. It's been an honor on my part. I hope we get to see more of you and Pegboy in the coming months! Thanks again.
JH: "Thank you, Chris. It was my pleasure."
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Eric Spicer with Naked Raygun (1988)
By Chris Carlton
Squid Pro Quo: Who was your biggest musical influence growing up?
Eric Spicer: "I had more than one. I really like Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols, John Maher from The Buzzcocks, Mark Laff from Generation X and Clem Burke from Blondie. These guys really shaped the way I play. Before that, I listened to a lot of Iggy Pop, Roxy Music, David Bowie and T Rex."
SPQ: Did you always want to play drums, or was there an instrument that you wanted to play before?
ES: "Yeah, I always wanted to play drums. I started lessons at 5. I like piano too and wanted to take lessons, but my parents bought an organ. My mom wanted me to play in church, so that didn’t work out so well. I like guitar and tried to learn it, but I couldn’t sit still long enough."
SPQ: How did you come to play with Naked Raygun?
ES: "I had seen NR a few times and liked them. A friend of mine told me that (Jim) Calao quit, so I asked to try out. I’m pretty sure that I was the only drummer to do this because after the first few times we played together, we just kept scheduling practices. They never said, “You got the gig.” Hell, maybe I’m still on probation.
SPQ: How was the Chicago scene different then than opposed to now?
ES: "Well, obviously it was a lot smaller, so everyone pretty much knew each other. That’s how you have so many bands with different members of other bands. It was kind of cool though, you know? It really was an exciting time. So much new music from all over the place and meeting bands that came through town. It’s still cool today, but technology has probably made the biggest difference. Back in the day, when a band we liked released a record, we’d run to Wax Trax to buy it. Now we just click on iTunes to buy the one song we like. Back then, when we had a show, we’d make a flyer, take it to Kinko's to get it photocopied and then take the bus around town to put up flyers. That was actually pretty fun. Today when a band has a show, you get a message on Facebook or MySpace. And don’t get me started on texting or twitter..."
SPQ: As the band's popularity grew in Chicago, was it difficult to find acceptance in other cities around the mid west?
ES: "No! Why the hell would that happen?! As we toured, our popularity grew everywhere – here and in Europe. But since Chicago is home and we’ve played here more than anywhere else, we’re more popular here. And that’s just fine with me."
SPQ: "It's such a big part of the live Raygun experience, so I have to ask; How did the whole "Free Shit" thing start, and do you recall what the first item was?
ES: "Ha! No, I don’t remember what the first Free Shit was or when it was – I’m sure someone does. If I remember correctly, it was Pierre’s idea. He had some promotional catalog that had all sorts of really cheap stuff that companies could buy and use as marketing. I don’t even know where he got it. So we got whatever it was and in the middle of the set, Pierre drags this big ass garbage bag onto the stage and began throwing the stuff into the crowd saying, “Here’s some Free Shit.”
SPQ: When the band went on hold back in the early '90s, did you ever think that there would be a day when you would get back on stage again and play with Raygun?
ES: "No. I was quite sure I was done. I hated music and everything about it. When I first joined the band, I wasn’t involved in any of the “business” end of things. I really didn’t want to be either. All I wanted to do was play drums and drink beer. But after a while, I started becoming aware of what was going on, even though I tried to ignore it. The way that the record labels worked, the things our own “management” were up to, dirt bag promoters and other things just made me sick. I gave my drums to my friend Shawn and said, “Take them, I’m done.” Oh yeah, the funny thing is I still don’t own a set of drums. I’ve been using my friend, Sean McQ’s drums. My kids bust my chops all the time. They say that all my friends are named Sean (Shawn) and Patrick."
SPQ: When the band played Riot Fest for the first time in 2006 after so many years apart, was there any intention of getting back together full time? Or did you guys decide after that show?
ES: "The original idea was to just play Riot Fest. Then as we were practicing, we decided to maybe do a few more shows. It snowballed from there."
SPQ: The band has released two 7" EPs since returning. Are there any plans for a full-length release?
ES: "Yeah, eventually. Since no one buys CDs anymore, we aren’t in a big hurry. We just thought we’d release cool vinyl and digital singles until we have enough stuff for a full-length. Actually, we have a new 7” coming soon. Pierre wrote a really kick ass song called "Burning Red" that totally rocks. Besides, getting this band together for anything is like herding cats."
SPQ: You recently played drums on the "Black Sheep sessions" with members of Rights Of The Accused, Stiff Little Fingers and The Methadones. Can you tell me a little bit about the project and how you came to be involved? When should we expect a release date for the single? And are there any plans for the band to play a couple songs live to promote the single?
ES: "I’ll answer 10, 11 and 12 together. James Toland from The Black Sheep restaurant got in touch with me on Facebook because I do heating and cooling service work and he had some issues in that area. I went to look at his equipment and when I was done for the night we sat around drinking some beer. He told me about his idea for recording a single and I said it sounded cool. Then he contacted other people saying I was doing it and got them to go in. Now I’m not saying this is all bad, James is very motivated and gets stuff done. The whole thing ended up being very rushed. I had an idea for a song that wasn’t completely worked out that we recorded and I am really disappointed with the result. I don’t know about any release dates and if there are any live shows, I don’t know if I will play them. I did however play drums with The Blue Ribbon Glee Club this last week end at the Wax Trax Retrospectacle – that was fun.
SPQ: Any upcoming Raygun shows in the works?
ES: "No big plans right now. I need a longer lasso now that Jeff moved to Florida."
SPQ: Where can we get information on upcoming releases, show info and merch?
ES: "That’s a good question, I ask it all the time. You can go to www.nakedraygun.org, Riot Fest on Facebook or MySpace and Naked Raygun on Facebook or MySpace.
SPQ: Thanks a million for taking the time to talk with Squid Pro Quo, Eric. We hope to see you guys real soon!
ES: "Thanks Chris!"
Monday, April 18, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
By Justin Schwier (Underground Communique Records)
No Idea Records
It’s odd to review a beloved band’s album after the “we’re breaking up” announcement, but if there’s a way to go out in style, Notes is a good point to exit. In hindsight, the tone of the album is a little melancholy, so I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise that this was going to be their swan song.
The album opens strong out of the gate with “Be Yours” and sets the pace quite well for the first half, showcasing how Lauren and Fid’s voices complimented each other so well, despite sounding so vastly different. The third track, “Unwritten” (finally in a non-Pink Couch Session acoustic version), really shines with the full band treatment. The album hits the most positive note with the song, “*Sigh*”. The next few songs are a bit of a roller coaster, going from upbeat to mid-tempo jams to faster punk tunes to almost country-tinged rock.
Even though individually the songs are great, the majority of the B-side of the LP (tracks 7-13) drag by a bit mainly because this is where the album gets darker. These songs would have been more suitable for the format where the band really shined: the 7” EP, though the standouts would be "St. Kathleen," "Privilege," "Criticism" and "Turning Point." That's not to say the songs aren't good; I just think they'd benefit from the isolation a single can only provide.
The last song is the song to bring the house down, so to speak. "Timburkulosis" is one of those magically epic somber songs that will send shivers down your spine. I’m guessing this song discusses the departure of the other core band member, longtime bassist Tim Burke. It’s a contemplative song, to say the least and a hell of a way to close out the album. When Lauren sings, “the truth is no one wants to be here, we had hopes of different cities, but how or when is still unclear” you can almost hear the band’s fate being weighed in her voice.
Even though I can’t consciously view the album without thinking about the fact that they decided to break up in the time since producing it, the album is a beautiful document of a really great and under-appreciated band. The best songs of the bunch will stay with you for life; and that’s not something I say very often.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
By Chris Carlton
Traffic Street Records (CD)/Toxic Pop Records (LP)
With spring upon us and the weather finally getting warmer, I look forward to a few simple pleasures in life: baseball, cooking out on the grill, the smell of fresh cut grass and what I lovingly refer to as "summer music!" You know, that album that just doesn’t sound the same in the dead of winter? The one that gets multiple plays while you’re hanging in the backyard with friends? Yeah, that one! Well, I found a new one to add to my collection. It’s by a trio from Richmond, VA that calls itself Sundials.
Their new album, Never Settle, is jam-packed with jangly guitars, honest lyrics and a sound that’s so familiar, you swear you’ve heard them before...but at the same time, it’s original; something new and fresh, and that’s what makes this album so wonderful. Songs like the title track, "47 Million," and "Take You In My Coffee" are serious rockers that make you want to get up and dance. The songs just have this groove that takes hold of you and doesn’t let you go until the end. That’s the mark of a great record. Other soon-to-be classics are the slacker anthem for a new generation, "Probably Not," and "Crosby Sucks," with its blatant use of 'fuck' in the chorus, are just two high points on an album full of high points.
These three guys embody what was so great about the early '90s alternative scene without sounding cliché and dated. Honesty, sincerity, staying positive and having fun is what makes this album a true gem. Now, there is no such thing as "the perfect album," but this one comes mighty close. If I had to take one thing away from it, it’s that the album's 12 tracks come in at just around the 30-minute mark, leaving this listener wanting more. But, if this band continues to make albums as good as this one, I will have no problem waiting for the next one. Keep an eye out for Sundials. I have a feeling if the band continues to put out quality material such as Never Settle, they very well could be the next big thing.
Sundials – Never Settle
1. Either Way
2. Never Settle
3. Good Words
4. 47 Million
5. Green Light
6. Carver Blues
7. San Francisco Courthouse Steps
8. Take You In My Coffee
9. Probably Not
10. In the Dark
11. Crosby Sux
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
From Secret Service PR:
After years of waiting, fans can rejoice! Punk rock band Face to Face have announced the release of their long awaited new album, Laugh Now, Laugh Later, which is due out on lead vocalist Trever Keith’s Antagonist Records in association with People Like You Records on May 17. This will be the band’s first release in over nine years since 2002’s How to Ruin Everything. Laugh Now, Laugh Later is chock full of the classic hook-filled choruses and signature riffs the band has been known for over the last two decades.
Currently spinning on Los Angeles’ legendary KROQ 106.7 FM, the first single from their new record, “It’s Not All About You” is a true punk rock anthem. Listen to the album’s first single “It’s Not All About You.”
Founding vocalist/guitarist Trever Keith returns along with long-time bassist Scott Shiflett, guitarist Chad Yaro and punk rock veteran drummer Danny Thompson. Face to Face wastes no time as they tear into the opening track “Should Anything Go Wrong,” wielding intense riffs, galloping rhythm and commanding vocals that sets the tone of the thirty-six minute long circle pit of an album.
“This is our seventh full length studio album,” says Keith. “We have definitely 'colored out of the lines' on a record or two, so it's hard to say this one is different. It probably makes more sense to say how it is the same. It incorporates tiny elements from each of our previous records. But it is mostly like our early stuff. At least I think the overall energy of the record is like the early stuff. Because we didn't over think anything. We wrote songs, rehearsed them, and recorded them. It has a very immediate and urgent feel about it. It is a punk rock record.”
For the next half-hour, Face to Face churn and burn their way through eleven tracks of unadulterated punk rock. Powerful songs like “Bombs Away,” “Blood In The Water,” “What You Came For” and “Under The Wreckage” will undoubtedly have fans’ fists raised, while “The Invisible Hand,” “I Don’t Mind And You Don’t Matter,” “Stopgap,” “All For Nothing” and “Pushover” will have them singing at the top of their lungs in unison. Two decades in and Face to Face have the same passionate intensity as they did when the band started.
“This is a classic sounding Face to Face record,” Keith adds. “It's energetic, fast, and urgent. I think the songwriting and arrangements have evolved without any pretentious or overwrought sentiment. It is an honest, furious, punk rock record.”
Beginning in late April, fans can get a preview of the intense new album live when Face to Face kick off their headlining tour of North America with Strung Out and openers Blitzkid and The Darlings trading off in support of Laugh Now, Laugh Later. Check Ticketmaster.com and FaceToFaceMusic.com for more information.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, Face to Face formed in 1991 in the small town of Victorville, CA. Face to Face has emerged as one of modern punk rock’s most influential bands. Over the last twenty years the band has released a string of crucial punk releases including Don’t Turn Away (1992), Big Choice (1994), Face to Face (1996), Ignorance is Bliss (1999), Reactionary (2000), Standards & Practices (2001) and How to Ruin Everything (2002) and have enjoyed massive radio play with hit singles like “Disconnected.” This spring, Face to Face return with Laugh Now, Laugh Later; a record that proves once again why they’re considered one of the most important punk bands of the last two decades.
Laugh Now, Laugh Later Track Listing:
1. Should Anything Go Wrong
2. It’s Not All About You
3. The Invisible Hand
4. Bombs Away
5. Blood In The Water
6. What You Came For
7. I Don’t Mind And You Don’t Matter
9. All For Nothing
11. Under The Wreckage
Face To Face Tour Dates:
April 27 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
April 28 – Kelowna, BC – Sunplex Arena
April 29 – Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Room
April 30 – Calgary, AB – Macewan Hall Ballroom
May 1 – Saskatoon, SK – Louis’ Pub
May 2 – Winnipeg, MB – West End Cultural Center
May 4 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
May 5 – Chicago, IL – The Bottom Lounge
May 6 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
May 7 – Covington, KY – Madison Theatre
May 8 – Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
May 9 – Pittsburgh, PA – Diesel
May 10 – Cleveland, OH – Peabodys Down Under
May 11 – Buffalo, NY – The Town Ballroom
May 13 – Montreal, QC – Olympia Theatre
May 14 – Boston, MA – The Paradise
May 15 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
May 17 – Providence, RI – Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
May 18 – New York, NY – Best Buy Theatre
May 19 – New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place
May 20 – Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
May 21 – Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
May 22 – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live!
May 23 – Washington, DC – Black Cat
May 24 – Norfolk, VA – The NorVa
May 25 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
May 26 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
May 27 – Lake Buena Vista, FL – House of Blues
May 28 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Revolution
May 29 – St. Petersburg, FL – State Theatre
May 30 – Jacksonville Beach, FL – Freebird Live
May 31 – Pensacola, FL – Vinyl Music Hall
June 1 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
June 2 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
June 3 – Austin, TX – La Zona Rosa
June 4 – San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit
June 5 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theater
June 7 – Memphis, TN – Mingewood Hall
June 8 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In
June 9 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
June 10 – Lawrence, KS – The Granada Theatre
June 11 – Denver, CO – The Summit Music Hall
June 12 – Fort Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre
June 13 – Casper, WY – The Venue
June 14 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex
June 15 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory
June 16 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
June 17 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox at the Market
June 18 – Eugene, OR – Wow Hall
June 19 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
June 20 – Reno, NV – Knitting Factory
June 21 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst
June 22 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
June 23 – West Hollywood, CA – House of Blues
June 24 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
June 26 – Pomona, CA – The Glass House
June 28 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
June 29 – San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brewing Company
July 1 – Mesa, AZ – Nile Theatre
July 2 – Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues
For More Information:
Photo by Katie Hovland
By Jason Duarte
Fat Wreck's Teenage Bottlerocket is in the middle of a European tour with NOFX and Old Man Markley. Good buddy, bass player and all-around nice guy Miguel Chen took some time out there to answer some questions for Squid Pro Quo.
Squid Pro Quo: How did you join TBR?
Miguel Chen: "When I was younger, Ray and Brandon used to play in a band called Homeless Wonders. We’d go watch them play and when I started my first band they started to show up and befriend us. I’m 6 years younger than the twins so it was really cool for them to take me under their wing like that. Kody used to play in The Lillingtons, which I really loved. He had become friends with the twins over the years and I met him through them. I started traveling with the band in 2005, driving and selling merch. At that point Joel was still in the band. Shortly after Joel graduated college, moved to California and there was a gap to fill. Since we’d all been close friends for so long and we would jam together anyway, it just kind of made sense. So Ray moved to guitar and I joined the band on bass."
SPQ: Are you involved much in the songwriting process
MC: "Not really, I will write a guitar lead or a bass part here or there, but for the most part I am no very involved."
SPQ: What's your favorite TBR album and why?
MC: "My favorite full length is They Came From The Shadows. It was our first record for Fat Wreck Chords and we knew we really wanted to make this one count. I like to think you can see growth between every TBR record and Shadows is the band at its strongest point yet. We also have a new 7-inch out on Fat Wreck Chords called "Mutilate Me," which we’re all really stoked about. I think the whole 7-inch is great, especially the title track."
SPQ: Are you stoked about touring Europe with NOFX?
MC: "No. Just kidding, of course I am, it’s fucking incredible! We’re in Stuttgart Germany right now, the last 2 nights in Hamburg have been great and the rest of the tour is going to rule as well! The opening act, Old Man Markley is a great band and all really rad people. We’re splitting a bus with them and so far it’s been a party and a half! NOFX and their crew are all really great guys too, it’s always a pleasure to hang out with them and get to see their band."
SPQ: What's it like playing with bands like the Descendents and others who you grew up being totally stoked on? Ever have trouble keeping your cool?
MC: "It’s a dream come true to get to play with so many of these bands and hang out with so many people I looked up to. I’m pretty good at keeping my cool, because you start to figure out pretty quick that most of these people are pretty normal dudes. They’re just guys who loved punk, started bands and toured. Regardless of successful they’ve been most of them are still really down to earth, rad people."
SPQ: Will you be in Chicago the weekend of Weaselfest in May, doing a show somewhere else?
MC: "Nope. We were going to fly in for that one show, so no show unfortunately equates to no plane tickets. We do hope to make it back to Chicago sooner than later though. That city and the people there are wonderful to us and we love it there."
SPQ: What's it like playing with siblings/twins? Is there an unspoken music connection on stage like with the Smoking Popes between those two?
MC: Aren’t three of the Smoking Popes brothers?
SPQ: Thing you're most stoked about in the past?
MC: "That’s a tough one. I’ll say that I’m stoked about being in a band with my best friends, playing music I love and being fortunate enough to travel, play shows and meet so many awesome people."
SPQ: Thing you're most stoked about coming up?
MC: "I’m excited to play Groezrock. It’s a huge festival in Belgium that we’re hitting up toward the end of this tour. Something like 30,000 people show up each year. It’s going to be the biggest show we’ve ever done by miles and I’m excited to see what that’s like. I’m a bit nervous about it, but that adds to the excitement."
SPQ: What kind of bass amp/cab/equipment do you use?
MC: "I use a Fender P-bass run through an Ampeg SVT Classic and an Ampeg 8X10 cabinet."
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
From Mike Byrne (The Methadones/Off Broadway [Redux]):
"Friday, May 27th at Cobra Lounge in Chicago. Dan Vapid and the Distractions (Playing songs that Dan wrote from the Riverdales, Screeching Weasel, The Methadones, The Mopes and Sludgeworth) with the Kurt Baker Band and the Jetty Boys. I will have more info to come."
"Friday, May 27th at Cobra Lounge in Chicago. Dan Vapid and the Distractions (Playing songs that Dan wrote from the Riverdales, Screeching Weasel, The Methadones, The Mopes and Sludgeworth) with the Kurt Baker Band and the Jetty Boys. I will have more info to come."
Photo by Randy Michael Korwin
L to R: Ken Fletcher (bass), Darren Vorel (vocals/guitar), Yvonne Szumski (vocals/guitar), David Schneider (drums)
Interview by Chris Carlton
Squid Pro Quo: For the new fans, or people just discovering The Scissors, can you give us a little bit of background? How did the band get started?
Darren Vorel: "Originally, we started out to do a record or two and play around Chicago a few times a year. We didn’t want anything serious or time consuming, just a way to satisfy the urge to play four chords as loud as possible. We recorded our first E.P., “Riv Rat Rob” in a couple days back in 2002. That got us excited to do more. We went back to Atlas Studios to record “Tijeras” (2004), “Viva” (2007) and our latest release, “You Can Make It Dangerous” (2010). We’ve been touring around the Midwest and east coast lately and have plans to tour a lot more in the coming months."
SPQ: What was it like early on? Was it hard finding gigs outside of your hometown?
DV: "Yeah, it’s really hard. Most places don’t answer phone calls or e-mails. You really gotta work to get their attention. Luckily we were content playing only Chicago shows. Our city has great venues and helpful people who book them. MPshows has been insanely kind as well as the fine people at House Call Talent."
SPQ: What was it like working with Matt Allison at Atlas Studios? Was it nerve wracking just knowing who this guy's worked with?
DV: "Matt is an extremely knowledgeable guy when it comes to music and baseball. If you’re interested in either of those things, you’ll probably get along with him famously. He has wonderful insight into recording and life in general. A few times after our sessions, we’d grab a beer at a bar and catch the Cubs game. Those were the best studio days for me. I can see how working with him for the first time would be intimidating, but after about 10 minutes in the studio, bands will feel right at home."
SPQ: The band's music has really grown over the course of the last few years. Do you feel that the band has matured musically?
DV: "I feel like people are constantly changing, whether they know it or not. The Scissors as people are changing, which reflects the music we make. Everyone’s writing what they know about and that keeps us honest. Every record we’ve done has been different from the last. I’m not sure I’d say we’ve matured musically, but I will say that we’ve allowed ourselves the freedom to write without limits or expectations."
SPQ: Since Yvonne and Ken have joined the band, how has the songwriting process changed?
DV: "It’s changed for the better. Yvonne is one of our strongest songwriters. She’s really grown into that role since our last record. She writes completely different from the rest of us, and that keeps us on our toes. Ken has us laughing through it all. He keeps us from taking it too seriously. That’s a really important part of why we’re still a band."
SPQ: I understand the band's working on a new album. Is there a tentative release date?
DV: Not going to set a release date yet. We’re demoing at a studio right now. There’s about 20 songs floating around. We’ll Probably demo 10 more before we start recording for real. Hoping to start that next month (May)."
SPQ: What can we expect from the new Scissors release?
DV: "We haven’t chosen the final songs yet, but I can say that it’ll take a side. Our last record was a little in-between genres. We loved experimenting with different things, but this record will be more of a straightforward effort. Yvonne will be singing lead vocals on half of it too. We’re all really excited about that."
SPQ: Over the last few years, the band's been able to tour outside of Illinois. What's your favorite city to play outside of the Chicagoland area? And is there any plans for a nationwide tour in the near future?
DV: "Hmm, so far mine would be Indiana. It’s close enough to home and the punk rock scene is really alive. Kids come out to support local acts and touring acts. I just gotta remember to watch what I say when I talk about The Bears. They don’t like Bears fans too much. Of course there’s a ton of other places I enjoy...every place on the map is interesting and gives us an opportunity to perform for people who really care about the music we make. We’re working on a tour right now, but it’s too early to talk about the route as we are still booking it."
SPQ: You recently played SXSW in Austin, TX. What was it like being part of something so special, and how was the band received?
DV: "SXSW is incredible. Music is literally in every bar/restaurant in town. It’s a great mix of styles and genres. Bands get little to no money to play, so I recommend touring around it if you’re broke like us. I think we were received well. At SXSW, people are actually interested in checking out bands. There’s only a few ‘big’ shows to catch, so most people are looking for that diamond in the rough."
SPQ: The band's song, "Let's Go," is featured in the new Playstation 3 game, "MLB 3: The Show." How did the band get involved with the game?
DV: "Luckily, the Internet has been our friend. The fine people at Sony saw our video for the song and liked it. We spent most of October 2010 – February 2011 biting our nails and hoping we’d get on."
SPQ: Being a big baseball fan myself, I can only imaging how exciting it must be to be involved in something this big. Has the bands fan base grown since the release of the game?
DV: "I think so. We’ve had a lot of nice responses from baseball and music fans. 'Let’s Go' has that great 'whoa' hook. I always pictured it playing over the loudspeakers at a game to rile up the crowd...so it’s amazing to actually have our song affiliated with MLB in some fashion. I’m an avid baseball fan myself, so I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been about this."
SPQ: The band recently got an endorsement deal from Ernie Ball. That's a pretty tall order! How did that come about?
DV: "We sent out our CD to Ernie Ball. We all use their strings and products anyway, so we thought it’d be a good pairing. Turns out, people actually listen to CDs when you send them, and they liked us enough to sponsor us. We’ve been fortunate to have them as friends."
SPQ: I know the band's got an acoustic gig coming up in a couple weeks (Thursday, April 21st at Rockit Wrigley - 3700 N. Clark, Chicago). Are there any plans for an all acoustic album?
DV: "Not really, but I like the idea. I always liked to hide behind loud guitars, but I’m finding myself performing acoustic shows more and more."
SPQ: Besides the upcoming acoustic gig, are there any Scissors shows coming up?
DV: "Yes, we have a show coming up on April 30th with The Frantic. Then we'll be at Subterranean on June 4th with our friends, The Super Happy Fun Club. It's their record release show. We’re also really excited to play the Ryan’s Hope reunion show on July 16th this year. Those guys are great dudes and we’re all huge fans of the Hope and The Reaganomics."
SPQ: I want to thank you for your time, Darren. Always a pleasure talking with you. How can people reach The Scissors for further tour dates, record release info and merch?
DV: "Thanks for taking the time to spread the word about us. We appreciate the help! Everything you need to know is encapsulated here."
Monday, April 11, 2011
By Chris Wigley
Lovitt Records CD/LP
There’s something to be said for the artist who can be both diverse and remain rooted in that distinctive sound that makes it them; all too often, we as the listener fall victim to either an album of a single song formula repeated ad nauseum, or perhaps the worse offender, the album that panders to the trends. The slow song, the fast song, the slightly more edgy one and so forth. Des Ark’s "Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker" is the sort of album that thankfully is neither of the above, and whilst not quite one of those albums that manages to be entirely diverse, it is a very dynamic album with a defined sense of self. And it is a very good one at that.
Flitting between shoegazey folk, all ethereal twinkle and distant shimmering drone, balls-out indie rock with little jabs of scissoring angularity and darker, more arcane moments of gothic farmhouse Americana (that at times recall label and current tourmates, Pygmy Lush), the album is alarmingly loud and quiet in equal measure, and it is often in the transitions between the two extremes that the music really comes to life. You know the age-old saying that jazz is about the notes you don’t hear? Well, if that saying wasn’t a crock of shit, it’d make sense here, because it’s those tiny moments when quiet becomes loud, or when jarring becomes sensual that it hits you.
At times, the songs feel over-thought; an idea that could benefit from being drawn out and allowed to develop naturally is stunted by the excitement of something new being pushed to the forefront. The music becomes erratic not in its delivery but in how the songs gel and flow. However, these moments are few and far between, and the dynamic nature of the composition when done correctly really cuts deep; the crashing drums and clashing guitars; the wide-eyed harmonies sung in unison both as backing chorus and expressive lead. It’s powerful stuff.
Song titles like, "Howard's Hour of Shower" and "FTW Y’ALL!!!" hint at a humour that defies the sound of the album and the nature of the lyrics (at times both ambiguous and insightful) nod elsewhere for attention; "Bonne Chance, Asshole" talks of the static hum of a stagnant small town and dreaming of escape; the epic clash of "It's Only a Bargain If You Want It" with its raw repeated mantra of "you will always be my girl" showcases some of the most delicate vocal deliveries this side of a eulogy. When the album ended, I was left with nothing but the sound of birds chirping and the laughter of children playing on the street and for once in my life, I didn’t get the urge to fetch my rifle. I felt a contentment normally reserved for post-coital smokes or that serenity of that moment after your heavy, aching bowels empty from an early morning hangover shit.
In summary, "Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker" is a gem of an album, albeit a little rough around the edges. However, the flaws are so minor and the song-writing and delivery so well executed that it is easy to overlook such problems.
Perfect for early morning in spring, or those late summer days when the dry breeze and waning sun bring a tiny bump of melancholy to your throat. Beautiful.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
By Kevin Toomey
Dirtnap Records LP/CD
All right, I know this review’s about two years too late, but the Marked Men is playing two shows soon and I love this record, so deal with it. "Ghosts" was the first record I’d heard by the Marked Men, and it’s probably the best, too (might be a tie with "Fix My Brain").
I don’t know where to begin describing their sound, so I’ll take a hint from the first song, “All In Your Head” and just jump right in. This band epitomizes the term, “break-neck pace;” how they manage to be so melodic and have so many hooks all while playing faster than Bad Brains is beyond me. THE HOOKS!!! These guys have more hooks than The Exploding Hearts on a fishing trip. I absolutely love the interplay between major and minor chords. I know they only have two guitar players, but each time I listen to songs like "Ditch," "I Must Be Dead" or "Get to You," I swear I can hear something new that I’ve never heard before. How two dudes can create such poppy, yet intricate sounds while playing so fast is something I personally can’t wait to see for the first time when the Marked Men take the stage at Empty Bottle May 28 (they'll also be playing May 29). If you haven’t heard the Marked Men, "Ghosts" is a great place to start. If you already own "Ghosts," go put it on “One More Time.”
Friday, April 8, 2011
Yoinked from Fat Wreck:
"Fat Wreck Chords is teaming up with Crankstrap Productions to release a DVD from The Lawrence Arms titled An Evening of Extraordinary Circumstance, due out in late summer. The video was shot at The Metro in Chicago during The Lawrence Arms 10 year anniversary show. Take a look at this stellar preview and we’re confident you’ll find what you’ve come to expect at a Lawrence Arms show: booze, banter, music and the usual rogues’ gallery of fans. Check out what Brendan Kelly had to say about the DVD:
When Travis approached me about filming The Lawrence Arms’ 10 year anniversary show at the Metro in Chicago, I said something to the effect of, “sure, I don’t care, just as long as I don’t have to do any work or think about it at all.” Well, fast forward a year and a half and motherfuckers are asking me for blurbs about this shit. This wasn’t part of the deal, man! If Travis had done anything less than a spectacular job of capturing three sweaty gross men doing what we love to do, I’d feel really put upon. Fortunately, however, Travis is a great filmmaker and I think the results speak for themselves."
I also saw the set list from the show, which I'm assuming will be the same for the DVD, assuming they don't chop it up.
1. Cut It Up
3. Alert the Audience!
4. Great Lakes / Great Escapes
5. On With the Show
6. Chapter 13: The Hero Appears
7. Sixteen Hours
8. Uptown Free Radio
10. A Wishful Puppeteer
11. Recovering the Opposable Thumb
12. Light Breathing (Me and Martha Plimpton in a Fancy Elevator)
13. Necrotism: Decanting the Insalubrious (Cyborg Midnight) Part 7
14. Brick Wall Views
15. Quincentuple Your Money
16. Lose Your Illusion 1
17. An Evening of Extraordinary Circumstance
19. Hey, What Time is 'Pensacola: Wings of Gold' on Anyway?
20. 106 South
22. Boatless Booze Cruise Part 1
23. Your Gravest Words
24. The Ramblin' Boys of Pleasure
25. 100 Resolutions
26. The Northside, the L&L, and Any Number of Crappy Apartments
27. Like a Record Player
28. Are You There Margaret? It's Me, God.
29. Presenting: The Dancing Machine (The Robot With the Monkey Head)
30. The Raw and Searing Flesh
31. The Disaster March
By Chris Carlton
Recess Records LP/CD
The Arrivals' newest album, "Volatile Molotov," features 13 world-conscious, anti-establishment songs about war, loneliness, getting back what you put in, remembering that life is short and that "it won't be long" before "the end!" The album kicks you in the face right from the jump with "Two Years." It's a strong song that reminds us that we need to take care of the planet before it's too late! This is pretty much the theme for the record that at times is filled with catchy hooks, solid riffs, and at other times just kind of bland. If every song was as strong musically and lyrically as "Two Years," this would be a very powerful album from start to finish.
But it falls flat in certain areas. The musicianship is undeniable, don't get me wrong; especially for a modern-day punk band. The music in certain songs evokes an Against Me! feel with a Clash lyrical sensibility. The only problem is, those bands did it better. There are a couple exceptions. Songs like "Children's Crusade" and "Front Line" deal with kids as martyrs and soldiers in a war they're too young to understand, yet are forced to fight. Joe Strummer and Tom Gabel would be proud. Another key track is "Water Water Everywhere", a song about going out and enjoying yourself, even just for a little while. The album ends with "Simple Pleasures In America." This very well could be the most uplifting track on the album. A nice little ditty about having fun while hating "on rich folks," and the simple pleasures in life like going for a bike ride, making someone smile and drinking whiskey. Now that's something I can raise a glass to! Unfortunately there's just too much gloom and not enough spark as a whole for this reviewer.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Mike Felumlee (ex-Smoking Popes/Alkaline Trio) has been busy writing songs over the years. He just started a Gmail account, email@example.com. Shoot him an e-mail expressing interest in his tunes, and he will send you a new song every month. The first one I got was a re-recorded version of "Something Better," which originally appeared on his split CD with Alkaline Trio's Dan Andriano. Check out "Something Better" below:
Big Cheese are premiering “We Are Not The World” from from San Pedro, California’s Underground Railroad to Candyland.
Jaded in Chicago recently debuted the new track, “That I Dunno” and Amp Magazine also debuted the track, “Jimmy V”. Both sites also posted an interview with Todd Congelliere.
All four new songs come from URTC’s sophomore album Knows Your Sins to be released on LP/CD April 26th via Recess Records.
Knows Your Sins was recorded and produced by the band in their own studio, Clown Sound, earlier this year and follows up their critically hyped debut, Bird Roughs.
URTC’s live show is one to remember with an ensemble cast of characters, instruments and costumes taking the stage. You can check out their performance at this past fall’s FEST 9 here.
You can also check out a video for the demo version of “Stop Crying Kid” here.
The video was composed of 826 still photos over a year’s span!
The band will also be performing at this year’s installment of Chaos In Tejas in Austin, TX along side of Guitar Wolf, Off With Their Heads, Mind Spiders, and Cheap Time as well as a few shows in their home state of California.
UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO CANDYLAND TOUR DATES:
03/25 – Oakland, California @ Sugar Mountain
03/26 – San Francisco, California @ Thee Parkside
04/30 – San Diego, California @ Bar Pink
05/07 – Los Angeles, California @ Pherespace
06/04 – Austin, Texas @ Chaos in Tejas
Members of URTC also play in Toys That Kill, F.Y.P. and Stoned at Heart.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Holy crap! One of the pioneers of rock n' roll, Jerry Lee Lewis, is coming to Chicago on Saturday, July 9! Wha! Ken Lovelace and the Memphis Beats will be supporting. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $100 VIP/all you can drink and $100 front row seating. Tickets go on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m. This is all presented by Riot Fest, which brought us Chuck Berry in January. Stokage!
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Dinosaur Jr.'s gonna go on tour and perform its 1988 album, "Bug" all the way from start to finish. Support for this tour will vary from town to town, but includes The Flaming Lips, Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, Deerhoof, OFF! and Fucked Up.
06-21 Northampton, MA - Calvin Theatre *@$
06-22 Boston, MA - The Paradise *^%
06-23 New York, NY - Terminal 5 *^#%
06-24 Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory *^%
06-25 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club *^%
07-01 London, England - Alexandra Palace *&
* performing Bug in its entirety
^ with Off!
# with Fucked Up
& with the Flaming Lips and Deerhoof
@ with Thurston Moore
$ with Henry Rollins talking show
% with Henry Rollins interviewing
I want you to...
To celebrate Record Store Day 2011, Bad Brains released a remastered version of the Pay To Cum 7'' ("Pay To Cum" b/w "Stay Close To Me"), which arguably launched hardcore punk music. Until Record Store Day is over, the band is giving away high-quality (320 kbps MP3s) of the 7'' right here. The download includes the cover art and the lyrics sheet. Click here for a list of participating Record Store Day 2011 stores.
Current Bad Brains tour dates:
April 20 - Greek Theater, Los Angeles, CA
April 21 - House of Blues, Las Vegas, NV
April 22 - Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO
June 16 - West Coast Riot, Gotheburg, Sweden
June 18 - Hell/Heaven Fest, Clisson, France
June 24 - Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria Gsteiz, Spain