Monday, December 28, 2009

Squid Pro Quo's Top 10 of 2009:

In the fashion of David Letterman, or as Butthead would say, "that uhhh...Letter dude," I have compiled a list of 2009's Top Ten Albums.

Honorable Mentions:
15. Deep Sleep - Three Things At Once (Grave Mistake)
14. NOFX - Frisbee/Coaster (Fat Wreck)
13. Mike Hale - Lives Like Mine (Suburban Home)
12. Gateway District - Some Days You Get the Thunder (It's Alive)
11. The Riverdales - Invasion USA (Asian Man)

Albums:
10. THE BOMB - SPEED IS EVERYTHING (No Idea)

The Bomb, comprised of Jeff Pezzati from Naked Raygun, Pete Mittler and Mike Soucy from The Methadones and Jeff Dean from Noise By Numbers, Four Star Alarm, etc..., put out its third full-length this year. It's a great follow-up to "Indecision." It also proves that a punk rock band CAN pull of an A Flock of Seagulls cover.
TOP TRACK: "A Song For The Helenas"

9. PSYCHED TO DIE - YEAR ONE (Dirtnap)

New Jersey's Psyched To Die revives classic hardcore and blends it with pop-punk and thrash, making for some catchy, harder-edged material. The lyrics are pretty nihilistic and bleak but damn, this stuff is good.
TOP TRACK: "Permanent Solution"

8. CHUCK RAGAN - GOLD COUNTRY (Side One Dummy)

Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan keeps doing it; making good, honest music from his heart. It's modest and carries the torch of old-time folk songs that narrate the lives of hard-working-class men.
TOP TRACK: "Rotterdam"

7. DEAR LANDLORD - DREAM HOMES (No Idea)

Dear Landlord is the melding of The Copyrights, Off With Their Heads and Rivethead. It's gritty, dirty and raw - stripping down the walls of your standard pop-punk song structure. It's a great debut album for Dear Landlord. Hopefully there's a 7'' or a follow up album by them soon.
TOP TRACK: "Rosa"

6. THE LEFTOVERS - EAGER TO PLEASE (Oglio)

A heavily-fueled power pop band from Maine - The Leftovers - followed up its last album, "On The Move," with this one. It definitely tops it. It definitely draws more influence from musicians like Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. The songs are about girls, girls and girls. You won't be able to get this one out of your head. It's as infectious as it is catchy and is a virus worth keeping around.
TOP TRACK: "The Only One"

5. CHRIS WOLLARD AND THE SHIP THIEVES - CHRIS WOLLARD AND THE SHIP THIEVES (No Idea)

Chris Wollard built the anticipation for this debut full-length with his split 7'' with Mike Hale in 2007. Hearing Chris Wollard and Chuck Ragan sing together all these years created something of a duality in my head, and I love their music both equally and separately in their own respects. If that makes any sense. This album is an introspective one and kind of a lonely one at that. It's riddled with insecurity and desperation but also with love and optimism. I'm gonna use the word duality again. It's a perfect balance and quite poetic.
TOP TRACK: "All The Things You Know"

4. HOUSE BOAT - THE DELAWARE OCTOPUS (It's Alive)

These guys again!? Yes, yes. I did review this album not too long ago. I wasn't kidding when I said it was fucking awesome and so on. It's funny. It's catchy. It's fast and poppy and upbeat and just cool. It's a cool fucking album by a bunch of cool fucking dudes. Especially Ace.
TOP TRACK: "My Guts Have Shit For Brains." Just kidding, it's their cover of "Traffic School."

3. Noise By Numbers - Yeah, Whatever... (Asian Man)

This new band emerged in 2009 called Noise By Numbers made up of Dan Schafer (Screeching Weasel, Riverdales, Methadones, Sludgeworth, etc...), Jeff Dean (The Bomb, Four Star Alarm, etc...), Neil Hennessy (of the Lawrence Arms - though he just played on the album) and Rick Uncapher (from Textbook). Rather than Schafer's more power pop/punk rock take on songs, these ones are a little different. They're influenced by more complex bands and ideas than say, The Ramones. I'd compare the music to something The Replacements inspired. It's closest to Dan's other band, Sludgeworth, I'd say. Just listen to it, words can't do everything (anything) justice.
TOP TRACK: "Waiting For The Train"

2. Banner Pilot - Collapser (Fat Wreck)

Holy shit, I thought. This sounds like their first album, "Resignation Day." I listened to it a few more times and realized I was completely wrong and now I know why they got signed to Fat. This album is pure gold. Plus it sounds incredible. As it should for spending $11,000 in recording costs. These guys have definitely earned the right to be on Fat and I can't wait to hear more.
TOP TRACK: "Starting At The Ending"

1. TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET - THEY CAME FROM THE SHADOWS (Fat Wreck)

Speaking of earning the right to be on Fat, it's about friggin' time! Teenage Bottlerocket has been putting out really solid albums for the last four years. They've been packing and selling out clubs across the country. Their last two albums have been very straightforward pop punk. This one explores thrash and skate punk a little more. "Bigger Than Kiss" is a straight-up Sack tune. I swear it! These guys are great dudes and they deserve to keep climbing the proverbial ladder. That and they simply rule. "They Came From The Shadows" landed them to a really great label and it's landing them to the top of the Squid Pro Quo Best of 2009 list.
TOP TRACK: "Fatso Goes Nutzoid"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Perfect Ruler of a Perfect Planet

A really short story by Jason Duarte

A loser's gamble and an optimistic mind pops open the top of a beer can. White foam and bubbles surround the mouth of the can, and will soon encompass your mouth. You wait a minute, figuring the foam will settle - even if just a little bit settles - until you take your first sip despite knowing that at no other time but the present moment will this beer be as cold and refreshing as it is as it sits in your hands, gradually getting warmer and warmer as you stare at those foamy roadblocks.
"Ah, fuck it." You take a sip. You sit down and watch a movie. It's inspiring. The story's a cross between Voltaire's "Candide" and what would have to be something else - every possibility's been thought of when it comes to love stories involving some cosmic accident in any given urban setting, or what some would call, fate. Maybe. Then again, it is said that we humans only use 7% of our brains. You personally believe it to be an unconscious excuse we use to pin our own personal shortcomings to, but what do you know. You're unemployed, single and haven't shaved in weeks.
At first, the young couple in the movie is in love. So in love, in fact, that like most passionate and fiery relationships, the two candles burn too quickly and what's left is a miserable and confusing plane of existence where neither of them are on the same page and live solely in the rear view mirror.
"It's like anything else," a New York taxi driver says. Yeah. I guess when you put it that way, maybe. But is it? Suppose there is some unaccounted for 93% of free space in our heads that we can't access. It sounds much too technological, you think, and then think about something else to keep you from thinking about ridiculous theories. Then again, you were just contemplating love. Maybe it is like anything else. Maybe it isn't. It is what it is. If the point of this life is to surround yourself with the illusion of work to somehow validate your life or to marry someone for that very same reason, then what's the deeper point beyond that? In a society where work, economies, politics, social pressure and religion doesn't matter because it isn't a problem, what is life? Introspective contemplation and all-day, everyday spiritual growth? Or is it still work?
The end of "Candide" is a simile for the way to live life. Not the best possible life in this best of all possible worlds, but a balance where nothing is either real good or real bad. And if the meaning life, like Voltaire depicts, is nothing more than passing the time until our last exhalation of that sweet sustaining Nitrogen blend, then why not end life right now, at this very moment, where you are the youngest and sharpest you might ever be? If our brains and bodies are only dying from this point on, that question becomes somewhat valid, you think. But objectively, from this point on, we are only living as well.
Life shouldn't be thought of as existing on a time line, you realize. That really shortens it.
The movie ends and you leave, walking home in the cold. The unfinished and now warm beer is still in your hand. In the black abyss, Orion's glow is intercepted by jealous streetlights.
"I could be that big," you think. If one man can rule a country or a classroom, then one man can rule a planet or several planets. Everything suddenly collapses upon you and a classroom becomes the same size as a country, which is the same size as a continent, which is the same size as Earth, which becomes infinite. It's the same size as one human being.
You turn your can 180 degrees, dispose of it and keep walking. It's 3:46 in the morning. You're cold, somewhat tired and imagine yourself doing what you'll probably be doing tomorrow.
"I'm the most perfect ruler of a most perfect planet," you sarcastically think to yourself before falling asleep. "It's a funny thought, but it's as true as anything else."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sleepwall - "Is That Factual?" 7'' review:

Toxic Pop Records released this New York band's 7'', "Is That Factual?," in September.
The first track, "Tennessee Sun," is a melodic blend of indie, pop, punk and rock 'n' roll. Throughout the song is a catchy riff played out on lead guitar while rhythm, drums and bass do their own thing. It's mostly instrumental - not too heavy on the lyrics. The tune is reminiscent of Radiohead, Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves and a touch of The Strokes. And maybe a little Fugazi. "Tennessee Sun" is 3:37.

The second track, "Change Your Ways," starts out a little slower, but those steady, melodic drums soon catch up, engaging the listener. Feedbacking guitars then take you by the hand into the song, which has a very '90s theme to it. The lead singer, Kevin, has a voice reminiscent of the late Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, only Kevin's in a bit more mellow and rhythmic with his music. Also notable is the similarity between his voice and Paul Westerberg's from The Replacements. The tune is 4:02 in length but goes by quickly.

The artwork for this 7'' is cool too - in orange and blue ink, it depicts clippings from personal ads - from something about a whale's penis to UFOs. All over! I would recommend picking this up if you're looking for something new to listen to. With their blend of '90s sounds and originality, they very well could be your new favorite band.

4 stars out of 5



Track Listing:
1. Tennessee Sun
2. Change Your Ways

Check 'em out: www.myspace.com/sleepwall
Pick up a copy: www.toxicpoprecords.com

Pressing info:
10 test presses
1st pressing:
100 on solid blue vinyl
500 on black vinyl

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Beldings - "The Beldings" E.P.

It's been a while since I've reviewed an EP or a demo CD-R by an unrecognized and unknown band.
From what I can tell, The Beldings are a one-man band from Indiana. The EP's five songs are fast and short with a total playing time of 4:49.

My first impression was, "What the fuck. This sounds like a white Wesley Willis but instead of a keyboard, someone gave this guy instruments."
And...I'm still under that impression. We all know most punk songs are simple and there's usually not a lot to making them, but this goes a little too far with it. Or not far enough. For example, the song "Dead By Dawn" goes "Dead by dawn, dead by dawn/You're gonna be dead by dawn/Try to run/Try to hide/It doesn't matter, you're gonna die/It doesn't matter where you go, they're gonna find you and steal your soul" for 1:03. Three chords. It's just so simple and cheesy. The song's title reminds me of this Nirvana cover band I used to play bass in too.

The other thing is, I don't get where he came up with the "Beldings" name. I mean, yeah, he's the principal from Saved By The Bell. But I don't see how that fits in with songs about horror flicks. Maybe the common denominator is shitty '80s television? It eludes me and in my opinion, the whole zombie and horror theme is way overdone and overrated and lacks substance. The Misfits did a damn good job, but their songs have catchy hooks and at the time, originality, which a lot of punk today lacks.

The Beldings - "The Beldings" EP


1. Jason Voorhees (Not a Hextalls cover)
2. My Girl's a Zombie (Not a Briefs cover)
3. Dead By Dawn (Not that Nirvana tribute band cover)
4. Night of the Living Dead (Not a Misfits cover)
5. Evil Dead (Not an Adorkables cover)

www.myspace.com/thebeldings

One star out of five.

Monday, November 2, 2009

House Boat - "The Delaware Octopus" review:

Based outta Elmhurst (NY, not Illinois), comes The Steinways! I mean The Ergs. I mean Dear Landlord. Er-Off With Their Heads. I mean The Steinways! If they all just jerked off on a toilet seat at a rest stop in Indiana and then a woman of particularly low appeal sat on it, the baby would be called House Boat, OK? And it would kinda look like the little feller that graces the cover of its debut album, "The Delaware Octopus."

Before I get too into this whole review process, I've listened to this fuckin' thing over 15 times in the last two days. That doesn't really happen when I review something but goddamnit, this shit is tighter than a nun's snatch. Especially if you like all those dead (but not really?) bands that these guys used to play in.
Grath (Steinways, Barrakuda McMurder) sings lead vocals on most of these short little nuggets of gold.
Surprisingly, Mikey Erg only makes one vocal appearance (that I can discern) on the album during the song "Battlestar Galactica..."

The themes seem to be similar to that of The Steinways'. You know...Grath signing about being fucked up, stoned and pathetic and falling over chicks and shit. Yet, all in a really, really catchy way. Then there's the Ace songs, which were always my favorite of The Steinways' tunes. No offense, Grath or Michelle. Ace sings on "My Guts Have Shit For Brains," which, from what I can tell, is about being fed up with bungholes 10 years younger than him at school. It's also quite possibly the best name for a song I have ever heard. If you've got a heterosexual crush on Ace like I do, he also sings on "30 Going On 13," in which both Grath and he split the vocals (with a little bit of Zack in there). It's a tune about lacking motivation infused with stress, laziness and uh...you know...defeat really. But you go with the motions anyways kinda thing cause you have to.

"A Song For Halfpint To Suck On My Balls To" came on and I thought it was a fucking Copyrights tune at first. Well, Zack sings it. But he does that thing Fletcher does where he opens his mouth real big and stretches the vowels. It rules. Then him and Grath share vocals during the chorus. This album ends after 13 catchy songs with a run time of 20:21. I was disappointed that they didn't put "Traffic School" on here. Ace was kind enough to inform me that "Traffic School" is actually a Kirk Hammett (Metallica) cover from some Metallica DVD. I guess he had to go to traffic school, so he went with his guitar and came out with that tune. Perhaps House Boat will release it sometime. It used to be on their MySpace if you have absolutely no fucking clue what I'm talking about. Bottom line is, when It's Alive Records finally releases this, get a copy and have yourself a good old time as you relish in the memories of The Steinways and The Ergs! but are also experiencing something totally new and completely fucking awesome. 5 stars out of 5. I've never done that before. Shit's tight. Here's the artwork. The baby's head was originally supposed to be a Buddha head, but I guess Adam Ali changed it. I'd like to see the original artwork, done by Michelle Shirelle of The Steinways. But the final version is great too.



"The Delaware Octopus"

1. I Watched The Biggest Loser Australia
2. I Work On The 13th Floor
3. Alonelylonelylone
4. Battlestar Galactica Vs. The Pop Punk Message Board Part VI: Grivet Loves Goats
5. My Guts Have Shit For Brains
6. Every Day
7. My Life Hurts
8. Are You Into Metal?
9. 30 Going On 13
10. All Of The Time
11. A Song For Halfpint To Suck On My Balls To
12. Wait, What?
13. Dumbmarket Travesty

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sandworms - "...It's A Fucking Demo" review:


By Jason Duarte

Arising after The Steinways' summer farewell comes Sandworms. Well, one offshoot of The Steinways - this one containing The Steinways' bassist, Michelle Brachfeld. Unlike The Steinways' lead singer, Grath's more recent pop punk bands such as House Boat and Barrakuda McMurder, which both still heavily echo The Steinways, Sandworms takes a more aggressively simple approach, tweaking what's become the popular sound in today's pop punk genre. These songs are reminiscent of instrumental Canadians, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. Sandworms have that heavy surf/rock edge to them. And I'm not just talking about the reverbed vocals, baby!

Of the demo's five songs, the first is the catchiest and also very reminiscent of the late Shorebirds (from Olympia, WA). I kept thinking the Sandworms' intro riff is in a Shorebirds song, but I couldn't find it to compare the two. If you're not familiar with Shorebirds, Sandworms can be compared to a Latterman and Jawbreaker hybrid, mixed with a little bit of that special something - originality.

So! The first song, "Born, Raised and Trapped With You" is a sweet one, I thought. Lyrically speaking, this is why:
"And I was born to live in a bunker and I was raised with nothing to do/And if I'm trapped here anyway, I don't mind being trapped here with you," sings lead vocalist/guitarist Jon Davies.
After listening to the song a few times, you might strangely feel like dancing and not really know why. Track two is called "El Diablo." It has more of a slowed down, classic rock feel combined with a heavy dose of power pop. Ah, yes. There's the surf influence: the whammy bar over Mr. Davies' clean guitar with slides up the neck here and there. The eclectic combination of punk, surf and rock make this tune a fun one to listen to.
"You're makin' me sea sick/You're makin' me sea sick/Sea sick of everything that you said/Sea sick of you," is the frequently repeated chorus to track three: "Sea Sick." I got the opposite feeling from this song than from "Born, Raised and Trapped With You," but this one sounds more poppy, more upbeat and has a hint of "I don't really care anymore/I'm too frustrated to care" in there, but I can't quite understand the exact feeling. Maybe regarding a relationship? "Sea Sick" definitely sings a feeling of freedom. I'll leave it at that.

Sandworms are different than about 95% of the other pop punk and pop punk-influenced bands of today. Instead of immediately thinking, "Oh they must have listened to The Ramones too. Ho hum," Sandworms has a sound that I straight up haven't exactly heard anywhere else. Even though Brachfeld is in the band, I hear zero Steinways. I like that kind of musical diversity in musicians. Brachfeld also does backup vocals on the demo, adding a nice dynamic to the music and a nice compliment to Jon's leads.
The five tracks total an enjoyable 12 minutes and 29 seconds. This CD gets 4 stars out of 5. Considering it is only a demo, I am already anticipating a full-length and hope to hear some of these tunes on it.
"...It's A Fucking Demo" was released on Time To Operate Records and can be found on their MySpace site for $4 ppd and on Time To Operate Records' Web site.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Interview with DEREK GRANT of ALKALINE TRIO:


Derek Grant, drummer of Alkaline Trio, in rare form playing guitar at Debonair in Chicago (8.18.09). Photo by Jason Duarte.


Interview with Derek Grant of THE ALKALINE TRIO (August 6th, 2009):


Squid Pro Quo: All right! I guess first - I spoke with Matt in a club in Chicago not long ago and he had mentioned you guys are working on a new full-length. How is that coming and do you know when we can expect its release?


Derek Grant: We actually start recording this week, so there's no real progress to report. As for a release date, hopefully November.


SPQ: Do you guys plan to keep on the same track as you did with “Agony & Irony,” kind of keeping it stripped down and straightforward?


DG: Perhaps more straightforward even but we will do whatever is best for the songs.


SPQ: Where are you guys going to record this one?


DG: In Chicago, back to our roots.


SPQ: Is that Atlas Studios with Matt Allison?


DG: I can't really discuss the details at this point; top secret stuff!


SPQ: Right on. I know Screeching Weasel was a big influence for you guys. How's it feel to be playing with 'em - or Ben and Dan anyways - at Riot Fest?


DG: It's a huge thrill for us, and there are so many other great bands on that show as well. It's sure to be a blast.


SPQ: Awesome man. Back to what you guys are doing now - I heard you guys play a song I never heard before at the Metro in April, it was pretty fast and blew me away. Is that one of the new ones?


DG: Yeah, I'm not sure which one you heard; we played four new ones on the last tour. Usually one a night.


SPQ: How many tracks will be on the new album?


DG: Most likely 12 or so.


SPQ: Cool cool. Usually there's a longer waiting period between Trio albums. After “Agony & Irony,” did you guys just keep that creative momentum going or how does that work especially since you guys are scattered across the country? (Matt Skiba in California, Dan Andriano in Florida and Derek in Indiana).


DG: We definitely kept the momentum with no desire to have a long gap in between albums. Creatively, we just write separately and E-mail ideas back and forth until we have enough material to merit getting together.


SPQ: Nice. Where do you draw influence from, especially when you write a lot in a short period of time? Do you ever get "writer's block" so to speak?


DG: I think we've all dealt with writer's block at one point or another. Inspiration comes from so many different places, you can never be certain where it will arise next.


SPQ: How about with the newest songs?


DG: That question would be better suited for Matt or Dan as they've written the bulk of the new material.


SPQ: Do you ever write songs, or lyrics?


DG: I've only ever written music for the band. Matt and Dan are two of my favorite songwriters so it's hard for me to compete, lyrically speaking.


SPQ: Understandable. You diggin' any new bands or music out there today?


DG: I just listened to a band called The Avett Brothers the other day, pretty cool Americana. Also a band called Black Anvil plus a ton of old stuff, which is the bulk of what I listen to.


SPQ: Right on, man. What are some of those moments in your life that you'll never forget with music or bands you love? Like, what was the first show you went to see?


DG: The first show I saw was a band called Fastway, then it was ZZ Top.


SPQ: Cool. Are you still playing with The Vandals or working with them?


DG: Of course, I'm going to Japan with them next month.


SPQ: Right on! I'm actually going to Japan with my band in September. Never been, but I'm stoked on it. How long will you guys be out there for?


DG: The 4th-8th or something. I'm going to have to split soon.


SPQ: That's awesome man. Well hey, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me.


DG: No problem, take care.


Since August, I unofficially-but-very-reliably heard Alkaline Trio's new album will be called "Seven" and will be released in January 2010.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What part of "THIS ISN'T A REAL NOBEL PEACE PRIZE" don't you understand?

Several days ago I decided to make a fake eBay auction for the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, that was awarded to Arafat. I posed as his nephew, saying I found it in his attic, etc...Anyways, here's the description on the item:

"Early Friday morning, President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
Shocked, I thought to myself, "Huh - I thought you had to do something to win one of those." I was especially confused to learn that he was nominated in February 2009, only one month after he took office aka before his Nobel Peace Prize-deserving intentions.
Baffled, I turned to something I could trust - THE NEW YORK TIMES! I read on and it turns out, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee AND the New York Times couldn't name anything specific he's done. Still just intentions. Well, I'm not going to toot my own horn here, but my uncle won a Nobel Peace Prize once. Yep - it was 1994. He was trying to "make peace in the Middle East" too. He was a "freedom fighter" and killed in the name of Peace. His intentions were good, so he was awarded a Nobel. It's been sitting in his attic since then.

Since 1994, I've been pondering what the actual value of one of these things is since it seems they are just given out to anybody so I dusted it off and decided to throw it up on eBay. Happy bidding! I doubt after this morning's ceremony this thing will go for more than maybe $5 US. Happy bidding! I'll even make no reserve and free shipping!"

I added some fun pictures in there too, and then at the bottom, it says this:

"**Whoever wins, I will send in the mail a gold-colored foil-wrapped chocolate coin with a picture of Obama's face taped to it - free shipping. Hooray for sweets!"

Now, since posting that on Friday, the listing has gotten 1,247 hits and is currently at 23 bids/$31. A lot of the e-mails and messages I received were people joking right back or setting me up for a joke. For example, "I understand that Obama has just been awarded Hockey's most prestigious prize, the Stanley cup. Could you help me sell my old Stanley cup on ebay. Thanks Bobby Orr." And I replied, "Certainly - at least your item still holds its value!"

Shit like that. Anyway, one dumbass (who remains to be the high bidder) sends me a question saying, "Is this a genuine nobel prize awarded to your uncle? If genuine, will you send the presentation case and any related documents. Not sure a 1 inch nobel prize is the real thing???" And we'll just call him "John." Feeling like I truly deceived someone (who apparently can't read a full description), I sent him an e-mail back, explaining myself.

John,
"No, no it is a JOKE! Read the bottom of the description, to the winner, I will send a chocolate gold-colored foil-wrapped "coin" with a picture of Obama's face on it. But if someone wins this bid, yeah - I'll give it to you AND you'd be helping me out massively with some small debts I owe. Win-win!"

Maybe that does come off as, "if you win this bid, I'm going to take your money and run, muahahaha!" Anyways, I get one back.

"Sounds like a scam to me. Cancel my bid or I'll file a complaint with ebay. The "joke" is on you; I don't like getting scammed. Bid retracted."

Frightening.

John,
"Actually, the joke is on you because you think you can find a Nobel Peace Prize on eBay. It's on you AGAIN because the PayPal e-mail address with this is fake. Did you bother to read any of the stuff at the bottom that I've been saying about how it's all a joke?"

Then he replied with TWO messages, establishing his dominance and definitely validating the fact that he is a moron.

"You're in a world of trouble for playing this hoax. You are costing people money for your game. My pay pal account email is jwaynemcgirk@yahoo.com and user name arcticdog76. See if you can send the money there to avoid further embarrassment. Please do not make this kind of listing when you show an actual nobel peace prize and the winners picture. You try to make a joke; why bother fooling people looking for genuine items. Cease and desist."

Hmm. He sends me his PayPal e-mail address. The bid's not even over. No money's been sent. He's just the highest bidder at this point. I suppose he's assuming he wins. I wonder if he put a $10,000 max bid or something, thinking he's finally struck it rich on eBay! Boy howdy! Anyways, anyone with the last name McGirk I wouldn't expect to be too bright anyway. Probably comes from a long line of McGirks who were also dumbasses. And it doesn't feel like I'm in a world of trouble. This asshole sounds like my mom. When I was 7. Then he sent me another e-mail.

"I see you are very new to ebay. Please stop deceiving people and honestly list items you wish to sell. I am surprised with your 100% rating. Some people must want to be fooled."

It is my genuine eBay account, and I have a 100% rating because I rule. I think the only person that wants to be fooled is my new pal, McGirk here. Anyways, I sent him one last message. Hopefully he stops filling my inbox with threats and ill logic.

McGirk,
"Hey. What part of joke don't you get? I'm not taking anyone's money. Even if I wanted to, I can't because I entered in a fake PayPal address. Unless someone has the PayPal address, "Yassir.Arafat@gmail.com," it won't go through. I have a 100% rating because I use eBay legitimately. So relax. I still don't understand how anyone would actually think a Nobel Peace Prize would be on eBay, let alone run searches for one, but hey who am I to judge. Nobody's taking you're money. Besides, you have to hit "Pay" for that when the bid's over."

So there you have it - morons are still out there on the Internet searching for used Nobel Peace Prizes. Oh, by the way, in case you didn't see the last post on this, these are the photos that accompany a picture of the Nobel Peace Prize. After seeing these and not reading the description, this asshole still thought I was selling a Nobel? Maybe this 2012 shit is gonna hit sooner than predicted and in the form of unconscious Internet-browsing consumer zombies.





Now, would someone with a real Nobel accompany the prize with those photos? I would hope not.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize: What's it REALLY worth?

Can't be much since they seem to give them out these days. Still unsure, I found my uncle, Yasser Arafat's Nobel up in his attic, where it's been sitting since 1994. Now it can all be yours:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250511422175





Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TEEN IDOLS: Back in 2009


(Phillip Hill/left, Jason Fanboy Duarte/middle, Pete Mittler/right)

By Jason Duarte

Growing up as a punk rocker in Tennessee or "redneck central," as Hill explains, was tough - the bullet scar on his leg proves that.
"You'd have about 30-50 people at each show. Once Green Day hit, it got bigger. The biggest we ever had was about 700 people for a Teen Idols show. The last few shows I saw in Nashville were pretty small. Even the bigger bands only have maybe 200 people show up. We haven't played there since I think 2002, but it was packed back then - it sold out," Hill said.
But since he left Tennessee in 2001, Hill has been working as an engineer at Sonic Iguana Studios in Lafayette, Indiana . He moved to Chicago in 2003.

One thing's for sure though - the Teen Idols' new album will be out in 2010. The Teen Idols haven't released an album since 2003's "Nothing To Prove" on Fueled By Ramen Records.
"We're thinking about recording around Christmas time, maybe a little after," Hill said.
The new album will be recorded at Sonic Iguana. The current band he's producing in the studio is the Old Wives from Alberta, Canada.

The Teen Idols' upcoming album has yet to get a title, or songs, for that matter.
"Usually, that's the last thing that happens," Hill said. "I think that when we did 'Pucker Up,' we were just calling it 'The Second Album' until we decided to call it 'Pucker Up' because that's the song that stuck out. And our third album - that title's just a joke. It's a play on the movie, 'Full Metal Jacket.' It was supposed to be funny but people took it the wrong way and said, 'Oh, they think they're so cool with their leather jackets,'" Hill said with a laugh.

The band broke up in 2003 after an argument between the band members. "My hollow body guitar got smashed," Hill reflected of the 2003 fight. "I had gotten in an argument with Heather, she pushed me into a drum kit with my guitar and the neck split down to the seventh fret. It sat in its case for five years. Then, a guy I know who used to play rhythm guitar for The Queers said 'I'd like to try and fix it,' so I sent it to him. He brought it to one of the shows and it was like brand new. He used glue, clamps, epoxy...but there were still battle scars. Two days after the fight, I took a Greyhound bus from California to Chicago. I thought a lot and wrote a long e-mail basically saying how things had gotten fucked up. So I made sort of my 'manifesto' - like 'this is the way it should be run' kinda thing. Everyone was still too upset over the argument and weren't willing to talk about playing together at that time."

Predating that, Hill and Keith Witt didn't speak since late 2000, when Witt was fired after their last tour of Japan.
"Keith kind of became our arch-enemy. There were lots of hard feelings," Hill said. "He moved to Chicago, and I had already been living here. He got a hold of my number somehow, called me and told me he was living here now. We patched things up and we're good friends again. He actually got married last year to a girl from Tennessee and I was the best man at his wedding. So the old wounds have healed." Hill said.

In the past year, Hill has tried to get the original Teen Idols members back together to record and play. Drummer Matt Drastic was originally interested, but his busy schedule wouldn't allow him to commit to the band. Heather was also approached to fill her old position as the band's bassist, but she declined.

Since 1992, the band's been through its problems, trials and tribulations.
"There have been about 13 different band members since we started", Hill said.
But the Teen Idols are back in 2009 with Phillip Hill on guitar, Yvonne Szumski of The Scissors on bass, Keith Witt back on vocals and Nathan Bice of Even In Blackouts/Deadly Sins on drums. Catch the Teen Idols for Riot Fest Saturday at the Metro in Chicago with Anxiety High, Teenage Bottlerocket and the Dead Milkmen.

Naperville Sun - "Pastor Marks 30 Years With Wheatland-Salem" (9.10.09)

By Jason Duarte
For The Sun

This past Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Scott Field at Wheatland Salem United Methodist Church.

The irony is, after graduating from Duke University Divinity School in North Carolina in 1979, Field was appointed to Wheatland Salem to close it down.

"As Scott likes to tell it, he didn't learn anything in the seminary about closing churches," said Associate Pastor Carol Griffith. "The folks still remaining in the church were praying about it."

With Naperville also growing at that time, Wheatland Salem's membership grew.

"Methodist pastors are normally moved by the bishop every four to six years," Field said. "Thirty years is unusual because this congregation needed to grow and develop, so that wasn't really a good time to call off the senior pastor."

Field's ministry has since grown far beyond Naperville's borders. Last week, he returned from a mission trip to India with Wheatland Salem member John Keefer.

Field explained how, at age 6, Indian children can be bought from their parents for 7,500 rupees to work for a farmer for about seven years. At the end of the seven years, the parent can buy the child back with interest.

"We love farmers, but we want to break the cycle," Field said.

When he was out there, he was looking at property so the church can build a school to "give a different future for kids," Field said.

Keefer said that when people greet each other in India, "it's more than a quick 'Hey, how are you doing?' but a five- to 10-minute-long greeting.

"So he (Scott) starts his sermon," Keefer said. "The guy to my left and a guy to my right nudge me, and one of them says, 'He's giving a three-point sermon!'รข€‰"

Wheatland Salem has also built a community center in Tanzania and funds a hospital bed in Haiti year-round.

"We like to be in lots of other places," Field said.

For his 30th anniversary, the church asked the congregation to submit letters of thanks and appreciation to Field. A book, which was presented to Field Sunday morning, held more than 200 letters from people whose lives he touched.

Field unexpectedly received the book from Eileen Schroeder, 91, a member of the committee that hired Field when he came to Wheatland Salem 30 years ago.

"Thirty years is a good start," Field said, "but we're still growing. We're not done."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kobanes Japan Tour (Journal) 2009: Sept. 22, 2009

Hiroshima - Kei's parents' home:

The festival that day went great. I don't think we ever fell back asleep after my last entry. I think we went back out to get food. I had a burger, coffee and a hash brown that tasted just like at McDonald's. Anyway, we pull up to Club Goodman and unload our stuff. We moved it down the street to the other venue, where they had three floors, each floor, a very tiny room where the bands played. Very hot. Does It Float? was the first band I saw play and they were awesome. Seventeen Again was great too. The rowdiest band - fuckin' crazy. Jumped into the crowd. I got kicked in the face. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt at all. I got a bunch of free CDs. Stoked to listen to Weezie And The Moelies. I guess they sound like the Kung-Fu Monkeys. So yeah, I had a beer and some convenience store food - sandwich slices with no crust and a pastry. Eddie doesn't have any yen, cause his ATM card doesn't work in these ATMs. So he can only use it at places that accept Visa like convenience stores and stuff.
I was walking back t the club and saw a group of people outside playing Nintendo. Old school Mario Nintendo, so I watched and the girl asked if I wanted to partake, so I did! I finished the level and handed it off. They all went in some building nearby, so I played another level and went back to the club. Kei sold about 20-25 of the new Kobanes CDs ("Japan Invasion") and some T-shirts with the album artwork on them. There was an after-party Sunday night, but we were all too tired and still jet lagged to do anything of the sort. I think I lost a pound in sweat playing in that room. We quickly crashed.

We woke up early around 6 or 7 a.m. Kei was back, I guess he only stayed out after dropping us off from 10:30 to midnight. He doesn't drink or anything, which is good in some ways, especially for us. He's the only driver we have. He's a "tax man." His mother's a protestant Christian and his dad is a Buddhist. Interesting mix. Kei said he has not yet found a religion but someday hopes to. I guess I can empathize with that, having also been raised with no religion. We left Hotel Kamatsu for a little bit and got McDonald's. I ate the cheapest thing, a sausage breakfast sandwich. Only 190 yen! Like $2.20? Afterward, I got some lemon-flavored 8% ABV drink and in Japan, it's legal to drink in the car as long as you're not the one driving. So that was cool. The drive from Tokyo to Narita was a long one. About 8 or 9 hours because there was so much traffic, plus getting gas here off the highway takes like an hour because there are so many cars in line for it.
So we stopped. I had a burger, fries and a soda, which I think was diet...I got Kei two burgers and a Coke. Came to 970 yen. I guess we passed up Mt. Fuji, but it was hazy, so we couldn't see it. He said on the way back, we'll check it out. I hope we get to see a lot of cool stuff.
Anyway, we got to Memory Pops in Nagoya. The first band, Navigations came about 4 hours father than we did to play first of five bands. Crazy. hey were good though. It was fun to hear a Queers cover of "I Only Drink Bud" and a Sloppy Seconds cover in Japanese. I think they were amused by us singing along in English too. I guess music really is the universal language. Sense of Identity played too, they were pretty cool. The Because was also pretty good. Nice too.
About 30 people were rocking out to us. A bunch singing along too, which is strange to see. I think Kei is our biggest fan though. They love pop punk out here. Some girl was wearing a patch on her hat that said "I Read Zines" so I went out to Kei's car and grabbed some Squid Pro Quos to give to her, even though I know she didn't read English. But hey, what the hell, she might know someone who can and at least she can listen to the CD.
After the show, I was asked to autograph three CDs, something I've never done before. Two were in silver autograph pen ink even! I guess now it's official - we're rock stars. Haha. I grabbed five pot stickers for 100 yen and 5 dumplings for 100 yen and a chocolate cookie thing too. It was sustaining. Nice of the convenient store to microwave them for me. From Nagoya, we drove straight to Hiroshima. Actually, we stopped once for gas. And Kei's girl cigarettes that he says smell like raspberries. Pretty funny. The car was really uncomfortable. My legs were tired and my neck and back hurt. We stopped near Kei's parents' home and I bought rice crackers, a corn dog and some traditional Japanese sake. Have yet to try the sake though. Anyways at last night's show, Kei was surprised we did "Surfin' Bird" and "Have You Ever Seen The Rain." Did them last, in opposite order. I went to a small grocery store before the show and bought two cans of 6% ABV oolong tea. At first, it was disgusting drinking fermented tea. Some guy traded me his tall boy of beer for it, so that was nice. Then I had one more, and it wasn't so bad after that first one. The guitars really weren't too distorted at this show, which made us sound weird. But it was fun. The venue was full of American '50s nostalgia. Memory Pops. Pretty cool. So anyway, we got to Kei's parents' home. His mom laid out bed mat things and stuff for us, which was really nice. I gotta remember to give his folks some chocolates. I wanted to get Jenny something at the convenient store - it's like a card, really beautiful though, meaning "Happiness and Pleasure" but I held off because I want to get her something nicer than a card. Perhaps kimono PJs? I want some too. So yeah, I'll figure out something. My suitcase is only so big. It's a carry on. Later today, we're playing at Okayama, Japan! I can't wait to see yet another city in this awesome country. Then tomorrow, we play Hiroshima! Then sightseeing. I want to see temples, go in hot springs, get some souvenir-shopping done...I want to see more and not just sleep. But now, I must sleep. It's almost 8 a.m. Not running on much. Plus I took two sleep aids Eric gave me. Mark's fuckin' snoring is countering their effects though. Eddie's typing either (This is all taken from paper, if you didn't figure that out already, that's why it's being typed out now!). Anyways, more to come soon!

Kobanes Japan Tour (Journal) 2009: Sept. 20, 2009

Tokyo - Hotel Kamatsu

We're staying in a hotel barely big enough to fit 5 bodies. And it's two rooms adjoining. We arrived yesterday afternoon around 2:35 p.m. after a 13-hour nonstop flight from O'Hare. We landed, went through customs and went outside, walked back and forth for a while...no Kei (tour manager/label owner). Then we got some Yen. I exchanged $250 USD for a little over 22,000 Yen. So I got charged basically a $30 service fee for using the goddamn airport's currency exchange instead of a Post Office. Their money is cool though. I like the coins. Some have holes in the middle (50 yen, 5 yen coins). I'm wearing a Japanese pair of pajamas...some kind of robe thing with a cloth belt that wraps around you. I'd like to bring a pair or two home with me.
We ate at a place on the corner - beef and rice. It was 320 yen...about $4? Pretty cheap. Came with miso soup. That tasted just like it does back home. The bathrooms here are strange. You have to squat and hover over basically a hole in the floor to take a dump which I have yet to try. There's a regular toilet too, but what's the fun in that? Plus I've never tried the bede (sp?) before. Not that I want to. The toilets are just different.
We were all awake and restless around 3-4 a.m., so we got dressed and walked around for about and hour and a half to two hours. Luckily, we didn't get lost. The stray cats out here are really skinny and have clipped tails. The birds here look like ravens and are humongous. There are convenient stores every block. On one street, there are two right next to each other. After walking around a lot, we stopped at a place and got some food. Mark and I had burgers with egg and bacon and onions. It tasted exactly like McDonald's. We had coffee and a has brown too. There was some stuff called "gum syrup" - it tasted like if you mixed powdered sugar with just a little bit of water. We saw some wasted guy and girl walking (if you want to call it that) down the street too. He ended up giving her a piggy back ride. Outside our room, a cat screamed like I've never heard before and then it sounded like wings flapping. I suspected a bird attack over food? But it could have been anything. It screamed for about a minute though.
Shower time is downstairs in the basement from 7 to 10 a.m. It's all a community shower room. There's a big bath tub filled with hot water too. I tried this out after rinsing off and after there weren't other naked dudes around. I never really did get too into that locker room mentality of showing off your package to other people. Eddie's going to shower now, then I'll go. Kei says it's OK for everyone to shower together, but everyone told him, "In America, we don't look at each other's dicks."
I bought a can of Kirin beer and Autumn Limited Brew. It was 6%. Tasted OK. For 10 yen, I got a pack of Felix The Cat gum too. It's getting to be light out. I think I may be allergic to something in this room. Mold or dust, I suspect. I'm not quite sure yet how I'm going to dry off. We have little face towels in the room. That will have to do. Man, I love these pajamas.
We play a show at 4 p.m. A 44-band festival. We're the only American band playing. Two venues and a total of 4 stages. Should be a good time! We get about 40 minutes to play, Kei said. Oh - Eric said he might have diarrhea.

Kobanes Japan Tour (Journal) 2009: Sept. 19, 2009

We arrived! Went to hotel. Two small rooms. ate beef with rice and miso soup. All too tired to do anything else. Got a can of beer at "Family Mart," drank it. Passed out.

Kobanes Japan Tour (Journal) 2009: Sept. 18, 2009

On the plane now. Will be in Japan in a few hours. Got no sleep. Gonna try now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thinking Back On Insubordination Fest: Day 1 - THE SECOND AND THIRD STAGES

Well, shit. I can't say as much about both these stages because most of my Friday was spent at the main stage, standing up, wishing there was a place in that god damn club to sit down for a minute.
Anyways, I did see The Dopamines, which was awesome. They really tore it up. The fans are almost as bad as they are, in the sense that they probably drink and party too much. All The Dopamines do is bring that out of them. Man, people were going ape shit. And as loud as it was, that band is pretty fucking awesome and definitely worthy of a crowd like that.

The Dopamines (sorry they're sideways, deal with it)




I caught the Backseat Virgins on the second stage as well. They were pretty awesome from what I can remember. I don't have any pictures of them playing though. Ah! The 20 Belows I saw though. They rocked. They're a band from Denmark, kinda like The Queers mixed with Dillinger Four I want to say...anyway, they're good, check 'em out. They also came back to the states and played the Goin' Knowhere Fest in Grand Rapids, MI. Well, that's all for Friday, folks! After that, I think we went up to my friends' hotel room with two guys from Le Volume Etait Au Maximum and partied, drank, etc...etc...then went to bed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thinking Back On Insubordination Fest: Day 1, Friday - MAIN STAGE

I FUCKIN' MISSED HOUSE BOAT. One of the bands that I really really wanted to see that weekend, I missed because I was still at my hotel and lost track of time. I wanted to get a shirt but then would feel like a moron cause it's like "hey, I'm wearing a shirt of a band that I like but have never seen or heard their music before (except for a couple of MySpace songs." But there were many more awesome bands to see that day - I felt better pretty quickly.
The Unlovables were amazing - I had never really heard anything by them before I saw them, so I was just kind of in awe during their whole set. Since then, I they are one of those bands you listen to for like a month straight. And I rarely do that with bands anymore. They struck me as amazing though, so I was really glad I was introduced to them live.

The Unlovables


Le Volume Etait Au Maximum played the main stage - they are a French band from Canada, eh? They were awesome though, even though I couldn't understand a goddamn word they were saying. Really good synth-pop punk. Kinda simiar to The Epoxies and stuff like that only a dude sings and not a chick.

Le Volume Etait Au Maximum


Underground Railroad To Candyland has also been growing on me since Insub. It's Todd C. from Toys That Kill/F.Y.P and another guy from Toys That Kill basically playing a little more obscure music with a couple of different dudes. They're really catchy though (in a non-pop punk way even!) and are really entertaining. I always am amused by the backup vocalist guy when I see them. His face reminds me of John Belushi's and all he does is jump up and down and sing stretched out vowels to the ends of lines in the song. In sunglasses. It's pretty awesome but they all fit together and make something really good.

Underground Railroad To Candyland


The Copyrights played really well. It was weird seeing them with a shitload of people going nuts for them cause they play Chicago like every other weekend and it's great but people don't go ape shit for their set all the time. But they did play really really well and it was cool seeing them somewhere else for once.

The Copyrights


Pansy Division was an experience. Never saw them before. Joel from MTX plays with them as the only straight guy in the band. Man, were they flamboyant. But they were good, I liked their stuff. A little more preachy and out there than stuff I like, but it wasn't bad.

Pansy Division


The Steinways were one of the few bands I basically came to see. I had heard it was supposedly their last show before calling it quits and I wanted to see them at least once. And I did! And it was fuckin' awesome! They did a big finish with "Carrie Goldberg" and that was that. They played amazingly and to me, they are one of those bands that every song on their album is a "hit," so to speak. All catchy, all fun and all good in my book. I was really happy that I got to see them.

The Steinways


Boris The Sprinkler was fucking weird. I liked them, but damn. I think Reverend Norb is a little fixated on anal sex. I don't know too much about the guy or his band, but I kind of wish I did so I knew what they were all about, so to speak. At one point, he was holding a sign that read, "UFO UFO." I ended up getting that sign after the threw it out into the crowd. It currently sits pinned to my wall - a nice souvenir from the fest. They were entertaining as fuck though. They also must have gotten a sweet discount on toilet paper because they brought shitloads of it to throw into the crowd, which the crowd then reciprocated (nooooo, really?) and it was pretty awesome.

Boris The Sprinkler




The Dead Milkmen. They were the biggest reason for me to attend this festival. Moreso than probably all the other bands combined. The Dead Milkmen were a band I grew up listening to in high school with my best friend while we cruised around, singing along to songs like "Taking Retards To The Zoo" and "Bitchin' Camaro" while we fucked up people's cars, mailboxes and garbage cans in the wee hours of morn." The Dead Milkmen were not only an awesome band, but a band I thought was hilarious. Especially during a time when the "music to listen to" was all this over-serious bullshit (has it ever changed?). Seeing The Dead Milkmen made me feel like I was 16 again, driving around subdivisions and neighborhoods being a moron. Which felt really good, actually. Really liberating. Anyways, I got right up there and got to sing along with Rodney at one point just for a split second, which made my night. Man, was it awesome.

The Dead Milkmen


Thinking Back On Insubordination Fest: The Pre-Show

It's been a couple months now since the the most recent biggest annual pop punk fest of the 21st century, Insubordination Fest. I never really wrote anything about it because I put all my time into issue two and getting permission to use those songs for the comp. and all that. So it's really been bugging me. Anyway, I think a really really late and overdue review is in order before I forget altogether.

I don't necessarily remember the schedule and the lineup and who played on what day and stuff, but I remember the gist of it. But in sequential order - first the pre-show. I remember it being a hell of a hot day outside and walking several miles from our hotel to the venue. When we got there, it was hot in there too and everything drinkable seemed too expensive. Pat Termite kicks ass because he hooked us up on admission for the weekend so Pat, if you're reading, thank you.
I remember particularly enjoying Deep Sleep, an amazing hardcore band out of Baltimore. I got wood for that band after seeing them play Reggie's in Chicago with Psyched To Die and Dillinger Four. They were a great band - old school hardcore with short and intense songs. Definitely more fun than a lot of other hardcore bands which I think just take themselves way too seriously.

DEEP SLEEP


Short Attention was pretty cool - I've longed to see The Steinways, The Unlovables and all those east coast pop punk band I love and have never got the chance to see in Chicago. Short Attention though was different. I thought they were funny but I ended up actually being pretty annoyed mostly by the girl in the band, who didn't even play an instrument. Unless talking incessantly is an instrument. Then Teenage Bottlerocket played last and they played some new songs, which I fell in love with. One of them being "Skate or Die," the first track off their new album, "They Came From The Shadows" due out September 15.
That CD is going to own. Anyways, the pre-show was awesome. I remember Festipals was cool, but having never heard of them, I remember being puzzled as to why they were so high up on the bill.
The Max Levine Ensemble impressed me as well. They were a trio of aggressive songs but also poppy, catchy songs, if memory serves me correctly...I remember it looked like they conveyed elements of frustration and anger as the lead singer would quickly shake his head back and forth as he played his guitar. I dunno how he managed to sing like that, but it was pretty awesome - they showed a real energy up there and it was awesome. They did a song with Delay (who were also good to see) and Delay finished their set with a cover of Argent's "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" (later covered by KISS). Playing that turned it into an all-out fucking rock show. Chicks appeared from nowhere with KISS face paint on - random people (as far as I know) came on stage to play guitar and the crowd seemed to be digging it as well. It changed the air in that place from heavy "typical semi-awkward punk show" to a "pretty relaxed show with a whole variety of shit so don't be extra awkward if you see something completely different."

Stuff that sucked: It was hot. I also wasn't too impressed with The Loblaws. I know they are a little different than the other pop punk bands out there but their songs didn't wow me at all and I didn't like the way any of their music sounded either. All the other bands I remember thinking, "meh, they're OK" about. But it was really good to see Delay, Max Levine Ensemble, Short Attention (kind of), Deep Sleep and Teenage Bottlerocket. John Walsh was pretty cool too. They were actually the most entertaining of bands at the pre-show. Never before have I witnessed a high-five pit or a hug pit before seeing these dudes. I saw them in Chicago once before, but yeah - pretty funny stuff. And they have Jon Weiner of The Dopamines in them, which is kinda cool if you like The Dopamines.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Them Krooked Vulvas/A Perfect Circus featuring members of Alkaline Trio and Kill Hannah with The Coldspace at Debonair (8.18.09)



It was a nice Tuesday night in the city and I didn't expect to see my favorite band. The day before, 97.9 The Loop went to commercial so while I was driving, I switched over to Q101 and to my surprise, found Matt Skiba and Derek Grant of Alkaline Trio, Scott Lucas of Local H and Greg Corner and Jonny Radtke from Kill Hannah being interviewed by one of Q101's DJs. They were talking about forming a cover band for Tuesday night for RedHairMatt's birthday party. RedHairMatt is a bartender at Debonair in Chicago and has bright red hair.
So the DJ says call in to talk to any of them so I gave it a shot and after a minute or so of ringing, the DJ answers and I ask him, "Hey, can I like...talk to Matt Skiba or something?" Little did I know they were all listening in and Matt says, "This is Matt Skiba or something."
"Hi Matt Skiba or something!" I said like a stupid girl.
I asked him what covers they were going to play at Debonair and they chattered and said you had to show up to be there. They said something about liking Alkaline Trio and I was like, "You are my favorite band. See you there" or something along those lines.
Anywho, I get to the venue and get the $5 PBR and Jameson shot special to ease my nerves. The first band of the night consisted of Scott Lucas from Local H and three other guys and they were called The Coldspace.



They did all covers by Black Sabbath, Kings of Leon, Iron Maiden, Kelly Clarkson, Daft Punk, The Stone Roses and finished with Local H's "Wolf Like Me." They put on a great set - not so much if you came to see punk but what a bunch of talented musicians. Scott Lucas remains to be one of my favorite musicians/entertainers to this day.



Another beer and shot of Jameson later, Matt Skiba takes the stage with Derek Grant and Greg and Jonny of Kill Hannah. They start to play "Dancing With Myself" by Billy Idol and Matt Skiba even does a little dance. The set continued as follows:

-Dancing With Myself (Billy Idol)
-Waiting Room (Fugazi)
-Reach For My Revolver (Originally by Mission of Burma and covered by Moby but this was the Pegboy version-Larry Damore from Pegboy came and sang it)
-Then they gave Red Hair Matt a birthday cake and sang happy birthday
-She Sells Sanctuary (The Cult)
-Lucretia My Reflection (Sisters of Mercy)
-People Who Died (Jim Carroll)
-Skulls (Misfits)



During "That's When I Reach For My Revolver," Larry Damore from Pegboy came up and sang it, a big influence of Skiba's. It was a lot of fun - as Pegboy always is live. After that song, everyone sang happy birthday to RedHairMatt and gave him a cake. He was jumping around having himself a good old time. How could you not with Matt Skiba singing happy birthday to you? There was only one other time I heard Skiba sing happy birthday to someone and that was at the Metro at a Trio show - the whole crowd sang happy birthday to his dad who was sitting up in the VIP balcony.

Anyways, "She Sells Sanctuary" by The Cult was next, followed by "Lucretia My Reflection," which Alkaline Trio actually covers on a Suicide Girls compilation CD that I believe was released in 2005. I think that was the first time I've ever seen them play that live thought, which was awesome. Oh and I almost forgot to mention - after the cake business, Matt and Derek traded places so Derek sang and played guitar to "She Sells Sanctuary" and "Lucretia My Reflection."



Matt took the drums - not everyone knows he was actually a drummer before he was a singer or a guitar player in Chicago bands like Blunt, Jerkwater and The Traitors.
Anyways, Scott Lucas came up and sang "People Who Died" by Jim Carroll with Matt Skiba. Scott was his usual self, climbing shit and rocking out. After the song, Skiba said, "So that's what punk rock feels like."
They finished their set with a cover of The Misfits' "Skulls," which is covered a lot by The Methadones and The Lawrence Arms as well.

Strangely, Greg and Jonny stepped off the stage and what I wished to myself came true. Out of the corner of my eye, Dan Andriano took the stage with his bass and the crowd of about 200 went nuts and I was within an arm's reach of Skiba. Not even a stretch of a reach. They played "Cringe," the first song off their first album, "Goddamnit." Which is just as well, taking it back to the roots, especially since the Trio is in town recording a new album at Atlas Studios with Matt Allison.
After the crowd (and RedHairMatt) urged them to play just one more - they did, and it was "My Friend Peter" off the band's self-titled 2000 release. The crowd went insane. If they had played a full set, the venue would have surely collapsed, leaving only the energetic crowd standing amidst the rubble rocking out and singing along to their favorite band, Alkaline Trio.

I dunno if there's a better picture of Matt out there than this one:








Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Japan Invasion" this September...

I don't know how many people actually read this, but a couple of you know I play bass in a band called The Kobanes. The other day, Mark, Eddie and myself went to a travel agent and bought some plane tickets to Tokyo for September 18. Nonstop flight from O'Hare and everything. We were given the option to stop in Texas for $62 less but having to get your stuff, go through customs and then re-do all that in two hours all while risking the safety of our guitars seemed a little much. Anyways, a nice sum of money's worth later, we're going to Japan to play six shows in about a week and a half.

We're going to arrive September 19 in the afternoon sometime and stay the night in Tokyo. On the 20th, we're playing some festival in Tokyo with over 30 bands, which is gonna be rad. Here's the itinerary the dude from the label sent me:

9/19(Sat.) Arriving Tokyo Airport

9/20(Sun.) Tokyo-Akihabara (Club Goodman)
Punk Rock Fest with over 30 bands!!

9/21(Mon.) Nagoya (Memory Pops)
w/Sense Of Identity, The Because, Navigations, Navel

9/22(Tue.) Okayama (Pepperland)
w/What's What, The Urchin, The Because, Origin Of M

9/23(Wed.) Hiroshima (Border)
w/So-Cho Pistons, The Urchin, Residents, Dug Out, Wrong Way, Jailbird

9/24(Thur.) Off - Sightseeing Hiroshima/Moving Tokyo

9/25(Fri.) Tokyo-Shinjuku (Nine Spices)
w/So-Cho Pistons, See Her Tonite, Disgusteens, Zero Fast

9/26(Sat) Tokyo-Musashisakai (Statto)
w/So-Cho Pistons, Headbangers, Idaho Rainys, The Cumings, Havanas

9/27(Sun.) ????

9/28(Mon.) Leaving Tokyo Airport

I have a Japanese neighbor who keeps asking me for a CD and an itinerary and stuff and I keep hesitating to give it to her because a lot of the lyrics are pretty offensive but she seems rad enough. She said she used to go to Anthrax shows so that's cool. Anyways, that's the Japan tour part. Now I'm going to talk about the new album actually called "Japan Invasion."

It's gonna be 11 or 12 songs. Five of them are up on the MySpace player now. This is the artwork: It's in the works but that's it more or less.

NEW ALBUM COVER IN THE WORKS!

Kobanes Theme
Please Don't
You Are The One
Ice Scream (Instru-mental)
Population: One
I'm Not Right
Nobody (Chixdiggit! cover)
I Can't
Fan Mail (The Dickies cover)
Me Vs. Myself
A new fast Queers-style song

A lot of those aren't even named yet and I might be missing a song in there but yeah that's pretty much what the album is going to look like (and not in that order). Fixing A Hole Records and Dumb! Records I think are going to do the same thing they did with the first album and co-release it. Both labels are out of Japan and fucking rock. Hopefully this album goes over well. I'd like to send out a bunch for review to Maximum Rock n' Roll and other mediums of the sort. I'll share my review here and talk about the recording process and all that fun stuff when the time comes but for now, I have to learn that new fast Queers-style song and it would be nice to write another one. Also, Knowhere Records expressed interest in putting out a Kobanes 7'' so we might do two or three songs there. One of which will be a Sheckies cover of "Then She Got Married." Mark wants to do that one really bad. Also I'm going to learn "She's The One" by The Ramones...we'll probably play that in Japan and at shows. They used to play it before I joined the band but that is actually one of my favorite Ramones songs so yeah, that's about it for now. Expect a new CD in about a month or so and if we get lucky maybe a nice label will put it out on vinyl! Oooohhhhhhh.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Naperville Sun - "Plan Commission Denies Cell Tower Plan" (8.20.09)

By JASON DUARTE For The Sun

Saying it was a threat to the nearby Springbrook Prairie, the Naperville Plan Commission voted Wednesday against approving the construction of a telecommunications cell tower at 2191 Plainfield-Naperville Road in Naperville, near Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve.

Forest preserve attorney Paul Mitchell said in 1986 the forest preserve acquired the land and approved the construction of a fire station.

"I can assure you that if it said for other reasons, the district never would have conveyed this property to the city," Mitchell said. "We cooperated with the city. Now as the president of the forest preserve said, we get a slap in the face."

Dan Voiland, Naperville's telecommunication manager, said out of the three spots they looked at, two have been leased out by the city, leaving the Plainfield-Naperville Road location the only alternative.

Naperville resident and forest preserve volunteer Joe Suchecki spoke in opposition to the proposal, saying the aesthetic impact it will have on the grassland will be a detriment to birdwatchers, joggers and anyone who goes to the forest preserve. The firefighters are also opposed to the placement of the cell tower, Suchecki said. No one from the Fire Department showed up to speak on the issue.

"There has to be better options," Suchecki said. "It doesn't seem the city has made other efforts."

Suchecki also commented on how it would increase bird mortality rates, saying that since birds migrate mostly at night, they can be forced down under certain weather conditions during flight and hit the tower.

Voiland said the Plainfield-Naperville Road location is optimal because it will not only serve its purpose connecting DuPage County's and Will County's emergency systems, but broaden cellular service range.

The staff supported it, saying the monopole design is the least impacting style of tower and the structure is designed to withstand and exceed wind capacity for the area.

Ultimately, the board voted against the construction of the cell tower, with Bill Jepson, Reynold Sterlin and John Herzog supporting the plan.

"Public safety is critical and environment elementals are critical," McElroy said. "Springbrook is a true treasure. Eighteen-hundred acres in the middle of a mid-sized city is amazing and it needs to be protected."

President Mike Brown commended Voiland on his work, saying they found the best possible place with regard to his job but not with regard to the impact on Naperville as a whole.

"In my mind, we are violating the spirit of that agreement and I have a problem with that. I think we can satisfy the requirements elsewhere."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Naperville Sun - "Rockin' Time To Support American Troops" (7.20.09)

By JASON DUARTE For The Sun

Mother Nature was threatening, but her flood gates stayed down for the Operation: Support Our Troops fourth annual "Rockin' For The Troops" fundraiser held Saturday at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Last year's event sold out, drawing more than 10,000 people, not including vendors an volunteers.

Admission was $25; the same cost to ship a care package overseas. Naperville resident and Operation: Support Our Troops volunteer Marilyn Jannusch helps the organization in sending 200 care packages out every other week.

At the Operation: Support Our Troops warehouse in Lisle, Jannusch helps pack and send out items such as canned tuna, peanut butter, beef jerky, toothpaste, popcorn and those little drink packets that transform an ordinary bottle of water into an entirely new beverage.

"My job at the warehouse is snack bags. They say I can jam more stuff in the (quart-sized) bags than anyone," Jannusch said. "And I take pride in that."

Event coordinator Al Keener said Operation: Support Our Troops spends about $10,000 a month in postage alone, covering the cost of 400 care packages.

Resources for troops and their families such as grief counseling and mental health assessment also were there. One such resource for troops who feel symptoms of depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder can take a free, anonymous mental health screening online at www.militarymentalhealth.org, said Col. Janet Kamer, Ph.D., chief psychologist for the Air Force Reserve Command.

"Lots of people are concerned, so they can go online and do an anonymous screening," Kamer said.

If they score positive, a list of customized resources is automatically displayed.

Also supporting and promoting the event was 94.7 WLS-FM DJ, Radio Hall of Famer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dick Biondi.

"It's my way of giving a little bit back — very little — to all the guys and women in the armed forces," Biondi said.

Other attractions at this year's Rockin' For The Troops included magicians, belly dancers, comedian Anita Renfroe, the Gaddis Sisters, The Byrds co-founder Chris Hillman with folk/country musician Herb Pedersen, Eagles tribute band Heartache Tonight and headlining the main stage at 8:30 p.m. was Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.

Additional money was raised raffling off a 2009 Harley Davidson XL 1200N Sportster 1200 Nightster autographed by Gary Sinise, an MB guitar autographed by Gary Sinise and a suite for 15 including food at Wrigley Field for the Cubs' Aug. 31 game against the Astros. Raffle tickets were $10 each or three for $25.

But Saturday wasn't all about fun and activities. Many Blue Star and Gold Star families made up the crowd of thousands. Wearing a Blue Star badge means they have a loved one serving in active duty. Wearing a Gold Star badge means they lost a loved one in military service.

Round Lake Beach resident Sue Weinger wore a T-shirt with her son's picture on it and a Gold Star pinned to it. Her son, Army Sgt. Robert M. Weinger, 24, was killed March 15 in Jalabad, Afghanistan, with two others by an improvised explosive device.

"I'm here to support everybody else to come home safely because nobody should go through what we're going through," Weinger said through tearing eyes.

Since her loss, Weinger has become close with the mother of Spc. Normal L. Cain III, who was killed with her son.

Cain's mother lives in Freeport, roughly a two-hour drive from Round Lake Beach.

"We make the drive back and forth," Weinger said.

Operation: Support Our Troops volunteers already began packing boxes for the holidays containing handmade stockings filled with playing cards, dice games, CDs and anything else the troops could have some fun with.

"We'll be doing this until the last kid comes home," Jannusch said. "We're not in it just this month, and then we're through."
Some 12,000 fans attended Saturday’s “Rockin’ for the Troops” fundraiser held at Cantigny featuring the Lt. Dan Band, with actior Gary Sinise (below) on bass.

"Merman Records Presents: Sea Creatures Vol. 1" 7'' review




Merman Records' second 7'' release, "Sea Creatures: Vol. 1" is a four-way split between Fear of Lipstick, the Neutron Bombs, Regal Beagle and The Roman Line.

The first track by Fear of Lipstick, "Did Ya Know?," is your standard three-chord pop punk song a little too reminiscent of Screeching Weasel's "Racist Society." It seems to adopt the same authoritative, informative attitude that Ben Weasel was so good at conveying in early Screeching Weasel. Fear of Lipstick isn't trying to be anything they're not here as "Did Ya Know?" is a more personal statement rather than a statement period, if that makes any sense. They play really well, the recording quality is a bit low but overall it's a good song and I'd check out more by this Canadian four-piece.

The second band on here is the Neutron Bombs from Chicago, IL. I've seen them play three times now, two of which were shows we played together and every time I see them, I like them more and more. My first impression was "Ken sounds British." The Neutron Bombs write some catchy songs with sweet bass and guitar riffs. Songs from the band's demo display this more than "Not Listening." Exactly two minutes in length, this is the best-sounding recording the band has and hopefully in time, we get to hear more by them. Oh, they also feature Pete from The Methadones, The Bomb and Explode and Make Up on bass. I'm going to say this song is good, reminiscent of British punk and power pop with a Midwest attitude obviously influenced by bands like Naked Raygun. Then The Dickies/Pointed Sticks/999/The Damned influence is also apparent. Check this trio out.

The third song, "Party Again" is by a band called Regal Beagle from Los Angeles. These guys sound awesome and I can't believe I haven't heard of them before. I hate to sound redundant but the beginning of the song sounds like "99" by Screeching Weasel. They also kinda remind me of The Leftovers with the "let's get drunk and party" attitude accompanied by a rockin' guitar solo. The song, less than a minute and a half in length, goes fast but rocks and is the best tune on the split. Oh, the band's MySpace profile also has a song that Joe Queer sings quite a bit on. Fucking rad.

The fourth and final band on the split, The Roman Line, strays furthest from the traditional pop punk sound, but still maintains that three-chord sound just with distortion, kind of like how Off With Their Heads does it. Their song is called "Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease" and is about a girl that sounds as if she's an "attention whore." It's got more gruff-sounding vocals with bass and drum and then it'll go to a totally Fat Wreck-sounding verse, something like the Loved Ones or Smoke or Fire would come out with. There are backing vocals in there that reinforce that sound that I'm having trouble describing...

Anyways if you're sick of the stuff you've got and are open to new music by bands you may have never heard before, pick up this 7'' from Merman Records (www.mermanrecords.com). It's fun, diverse-sounding, and a great split put out by a great new label. I am looking forward to the next volume of "Sea Creatures" already.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The PG-13s - "Get Back" EP review:




"Sounds like Lagwagon!"
...is what popped into my head after I hit go on my turntable, enabling the first track, "Sure Thing." The PG-13s are a four-piece from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and just released a four-song EP on Merman Records called "Get Back" on June 15, 2009.
The first song, "Sure Thing," seems to draw past and present influences from doo-wop bands to modern day pop punk. It's just over two minutes long and makes for a good intro song to the EP.
"Sasha Sasha" is a little closer to three minutes, stretching out the "Oohs" as lead singer Sean croons over this Sasha chick. Very good, and I think I hear a little Saves The Day in there? Whether the influence is there or not, their voices sound similar, which is a good thing. Very poppy, but stays on the correct side of the thin line separating "pop punk" from "this is too poppy."
There's a track on here called "Winona" which I think to be about Winona Ryder. The following line led me to this conclusion:
"I'll bail you out when things just get so tough/Don't worry about what they'll say/I won't let them take you away." America's favorite little shoplifter.
The last song, "Oh So," I had heard previously on an online compilation called "Punk Rock Pot Luck Vol. 3." It's got a sweet catchy solo in the middle of the song and it reminds me a little of Weezer. It's a real lovey-dovey song with the "ba da bas" and "oohs and ahhs." I dig it. Three stars out of five. The band is pretty good, although one thing I would change is the frequency of the rhymes in "Oh So" because at some points, it seems a little excessive. But songs like "Sasha Sasha" redeem it with the band's originality. Pop punk is a real hard genre for a band to bring something new to the table because really, there's only so much you can do with a few chords and a broken or swollen heart. Their progression in their songs reminds me a little of The Leftovers - a very power pop and 60s rock/pop-influenced band. Instead of the progression of say, a Riverdales or a Ramones tune, it goes a little longer and in not-so-typical places, making the verses and chorus a little longer and well, kinda better.

Check 'em out at www.myspace.com/thepg13s and www.thepg13s.com and pick up the 7'' at www.mermanrecords.com.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Naperville Sun - "DuPage Residents Rally To Save State Funding" (6.20.09)

By JASON DUARTE For The Sun-Times News Group

"No more cuts! No more cuts!" was chanted by hundreds who rallied at 2 p.m. Friday in the hot and threatening weather in the courtyard outside the DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton on County Farm Road. The crowd was protesting budget cuts proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly.

The state notified human service agencies across the state that come July 1, funding for multiple human services agencies will be completely eliminated.
Paul Conrad of Roselle protests the proposed state budget cuts in social services programs at the DuPage County complex in Wheaton on Friday.

Executive director of Catholic Charities and Naperville resident Kathleen McGowan said the cut will be detrimental to its head-start and early head-start programs especially.

"There's potential of no longer being able to do counseling with children who were victims of abuse and neglect," McGowan said. "We've been informed of a 27 percent cut in the funding between our Daybreak Center in Joliet and our Hope House in Villa Park. If that continues, that's 27 percent more people outside sleeping in the parks of Naperville and under viaducts. Where are cuts the state is making? I've cut staff prior to this."

"I don't want to be laid off after 25 years of service," said Downers Grove resident, employee and former board member of the Ray Graham Association for People With Disabilities. "The moral of the story is, 'No more cuts!" she said.

Jack Ryan, president and CEO of Naperville-based Little Friends Inc., said his business is being hit in two ways: grant funding and fees for service funding.

For example, the state of Illinois reimburses Ryan every day a client is served at their residential program, Ryan said.

By July 1, Little Friends may lose $1.1 million in funding, which will in turn eliminate funding for 150 clients or residents in their programs. And that doesn't include a possible additional $1.2 million to $1.7 million by October.

"What are we going to do about it? We're planning to reduce employees' salaries, terminate retirement plans, increase employee health care costs and eliminate 11 positions. If the actual reduction of another $1.2 to $1.7 million takes place (on Oct. 1), it'll be a massive destruction," Ryan said.

The Family Shelter Service of DuPage County even closed its office today in the 505 Building on County Farm Road in Wheaton to let people know what is going on.

Cathy Ficker Terrill, CEO of the Ray Graham Association, which focuses on people with disabilities, said 900 people will lose 100 percent of their funding if these cuts go through. On Oct. 1, if the additional cuts go through, "1,100 additional people will lose services," Ficker Terrill said. "It's not about jobs, it's about lives. These individuals can't function without staff supporting them and feeding them and bathing them. Some may become homeless and they're vulnerable. It will not be safe," she said.

It costs the Ray Graham Association between $20,000 and $50,000 per individual per year, whereas a person in a state institution costs around $150,000 per year, Ficker Terrill said.

In the meantime, Ficker Terrill said she is looking at every nonessential thing.

"Travel's been cut, we slashed our food budget, we slashed training, we froze all positions," Ficker Terrill said.

When it came time for both Democrats and Republicans to vote on an appropriation bill, "none of us did," said Illinois State Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville. "We're talking about briefing salaries. A list of items is being proposed by cutting salaries of state employees by 10 percent, reforming their pension and trying to reform Medicaid. None of that got done; it was all dumped on human services and that's wrong."

Senger said she is not in favor of the 50 percent cut in human services programs, but said she isn't in favor of raising taxes, either.

"I was trying to get a bill proposed saying you need a super majority (2/3) of the vote to raise taxes (instead of 51 percent)," Senger said.

"I've been through Halfway House at Serenity and Cornell Intervention at Woodridge," said recovering alcoholic and addict Jeff Rhoades of Addison. "If it wasn't for those places, I'd be dead."