Arguably, the most important job at the Rookery is door-guy. Conspicuously centered on the table where these would-be bouncers and band wranglers sit is a plastic bowl serving to collect donations for touring acts. There’re surely evenings where proceeds are scant, but occasionally, an out of town act can make a decent haul. “Sightings [a band from Brooklyn] made about fifty dollars less than what the Empty Falafel promised them,” Caruso says, “which was a solid amount in the first place.”
On evenings when the DIY venue, located at Eastwood and Mayfield, hosts shows, there’s a table of foreingers greeting guests, taking donations and inviting new comers to join the e-mail list. After congenial chit-chat with the transplanted midwesterners, finding a seat on a couch or a conversation with a stranger isn’t too difficult either. But once the music begins conversation becomes an afterthought, if not simply impossible.
DJC: Why is Cell Stories going to work better or differently than Punk Planet?
DS: Punk Planet was on top of the world. There weren’t a lot of people to partner up with - they just didn’t exist at that level. With Cell Stories there are tons of people who’ve been at this longer than I have, are incredible writers and have an incredible amount of knowledge.
DJC: Cell Stories came out of something – the fellowship. So, did Punk Planet come out of some other project?
Cessation of publishing, though, found Sinker arriving in academia. Meeting in his office, replete with just a few too many concert posters on the walls, the professor dealt sincerely with his past and passions while snidely deriding a few of his peers.
DJC: How’d you wind up being a professor at Columbia College?
The Black Keys – hopefully they make a good rap album in the next few months – don’t really factor into my thinking about garage stuff. Jack White either. That’s not a knock on those folks (ok, maybe it is). But there’s such a huge backlog of garage stuff from the post-Nuggets era, that becoming obsessed with that Akron or Detroit band doesn’t make any bloody sense.
7. We need to know a little about your personality. Do you consider yourself shy or out going? Independent? Are you a loner type? Are you comfortable dealing with a lot of people? What are you like when you are mad? How do you think your friends would describe you?
I’m an odd amalgam of each of those things. I just moved to Chicago and have had to go out and find folks to hang out with – I knew three people when I got here. At the same time, though, I’m as likely to sit in my room for two days and read a book as I am to goto shows.
I taught kids for a few years, so interacting with a large group of people, assigning tasks and the like is more than familiar to me.
4. What would you want to change about MRR? Be specific.
The two main things would be the layout as well the way that the columns/features are handled.
The columns are regular draw. You guys sporadically feature some sort historical component: a look back at a band or scene that was an important component in helping punk arrive where it is today. But if there were a regular space for a feature like that, I think that it’d help keep readers coming back on a monthly basis.
Regardless of how Brits referred to ‘em Roy Montgomery (guitar), Ross Humphrey (bass), and Peter Stapleton (drums) comprised the Pin Group, which formed during the early ‘80s and only lasted till around ’84. In that time, though, the band was able to record a clutch of songs that would seemingly inform the kiwi acts that followed on Flying Nun Records in the coming years.
DJC: Was that a watershed moment?
JR: Who knows if he wouldn’t have written back, I’d still be in a band that was trying to sound like Rancid…Kids just don’t have punk records fall into their lap. It’s a process of discovering music through things that are more accessible. It’s a system of rivers, where it keeps getting smaller and something branches off into something else…I turned down a major label deal to be on Matador [Records]. I could be signed to Universal Records if I wanted to be.
DJC: They make Indiana Jones.
And Lil Wayne. I went to their office, and I was just walking around thinking, ‘Who is that guy?’ I know everyone in here…It was funny, it was an experience.
DJC: Where are the offices?
Jay Reatard (née Jay Lindsey). Working in almost as many sub-genres of punk as different bands, Reatard has crafted a career and persona of an unabashed loud-mouth who refuses to bow before genre restrictions, cultural trends or record labels.
Slowing his pace of recording only to tour over the last three years, the singer and guitarist moved from underground adulation to broader recognition, even winding up on MTV News at one point.
All of Reatard’s recordings and recent successes, though, haven’t made navigating the music business any more hospitable. Speaking from his Memphis home, Reatard remembers his past, and talks about heading to Hollywood.
Able to appreciate the rolling bass lines on other tracks, the more aggressive offerings were still what drew me in. But since the band is appearing at Chicago’s Riot Fest this weekend, I figured that I needed to brush up on some history and track down some (digital) copies of those albums. It was a wise decision.
The Canadian band though has ties to Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label as well as some shifty eco-terrorists up there in the northwest. I suppose someone in or related to the UK band blew something in political protest, but Gerry Useless got popped for plotting to rip off an armored vehicle in order to finance future disruptive endeavors.