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


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.

"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."


"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.

"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:


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."