Interviews

Dowsing

DOWSING

This Friday, Dowsing will release its third full-length and first for Asian Man Records, titled Okay. We recently caught up with singer/guitarist Erik Czaja and guitarist Mikey Crotty to talk about the album in detail, (the band’s lineup is rounded-out by bassist Michael Politowicz and drummer William Lange). We discussed what it was like writing and recording the record, as well as the story behind its title. We also spoke about some of the album’s lyrics, their upcoming tour and more. Be sure to check out a song from the record after the interview, called “Dissolve.” Click here to view…

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PEARS – Green Star

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Fat Wreck Chords – Release Date: 4/01/16

In July of last year, PEARS re-released their debut LP via Fat Wreck Chords and quite honestly took the punk and hardcore communities by storm. Admittedly, the album was recorded in a hurried manner, but still conveyed the band’s unrelenting energy and unique approach to songwriting. In contrast, Green Star was meticulously written and recorded, and the added effort clearly shows. The record certainly spotlights PEARS’ evolution, but that’s not to imply they’ve abandon their signature style of frantic hardcore punk that’s both old school and progressive. Green Star charges out of the gates with “Hinged by Spine,” which channels Today’s Empires… era Propagandhi and highlights the impressive vocal range of singer Zach Quinn. “The Flu” evokes the spirit of punk pioneers Circle Jerks and Black Flag, and seems like it would be a definite crowd favorite in a live setting. The title track changes tempos on a dime, yet transitions fluidly between the varying rhythms. It also features a hyper-melodic chorus that’s supported by a horde of harmonious backing vocals. There’s even a re-recorded version of “Snowflake” from their Letters to Memaw seven-inch and it sounds more concise and confident than the original. Containing 16 tracks in all, including two piano interludes, this album is by all accounts a complete work that observes PEARS really elevating their game. Take a listen to the song “Green Star” below and for those who say there aren’t any new bands out there that are innovative or worthwhile, tell them to check out this record.

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Mean Jeans – Nite Vision

Fat Wreck Chords – Release Date: 3/18/16

Last week, Mean Jeans marked their Fat Wreck Chords debut with the release of the Nite Vision seven-inch. The record serves as a preview for their upcoming album Tight New Dimension, which the label will put out in April. Containing three songs in total, (one that appears on the full-length and two that are exclusive) Nite Vision finds the Portland trio sharpening their patented take on Ramones-inspired garage rock. Things get underway with the title track, an ominous entry that features surf rock undertones and a chorus that stomps along with authority. It also contains a gloomy yet melodic guitar lead that helps to solidify the mood of this confident anthem. Up next is “Now I Wanna Be Yr Dogg,” which channels Teenage Bottlerocket but adds extra humor and a noticeably faster tempo. It’s infectiously catchy and does a nice job of showcasing the vocal abilities of singer/guitarist Billy Jeans. The record concludes with “69 Tears,” clocking-in at less than a minute and a half, though still managing to include buzzsaw guitars, skillful drumming and distinctive call and response backing vocals. If these songs are any indication of what’s to come on Mean Jeans’ forthcoming album, then it sounds as though the band has taken their craft to that next level. Check out the song “Nite Vision” below for a sample of what’s in store.

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Mean Sean – “Hard of Feeling”

Mean Sean

On April 4th, Artistic Integrity Records will issue the debut release from Mean Sean. The band formed in early 2014 and consists of singer Vito Nusret, guitarist Nicolas Kubica, bassist James Henderson and drummer Vincent Miller. When asked to describe their sound, Nusret commented “I’d like to think we sound like Crimpshrine or Black Flag, but we probably just sound like a sloppy pop punk band that wears black t-shirts.”

The self-titled album will be available both digitally and on cassette. Recorded by Erik Rasmussen at Observatory Studios, the cassette contains a total of 13 songs and comes in lime green or light blue. They’re limited to 50 copies each, include a download code and can be purchased here. We’re streaming one of the tracks below, called “Hard of Feeling.” Speaking in regards to the song’s lyrics, Nusret said “It was inspired by a friend dealing with an autoimmune disease. I’m terrified of how our bodies can betray us without warning or pain while still doing severe and sometimes irreparable damage. It’s about juxtaposing that with a hardening of one’s feelings against potential emotional attacks, and examining how we can be considered too sensitive or too callous in both physical and mental ways.” While the content is decidedly serious, that’s not to suggest that the group doesn’t also have a comical side. Take for instance their name, which according to Nusret is derived from a friend’s dream about having a pet duck that smoked cigarettes and was named Mean Sean.

To commemorate the album’s release, the band is playing a show at Quenchers on April 7th, along with Drilling For Blasting, Angel Lust and Sincere Engineer. The show starts at 9:00 PM, costs $5 in advance and is 21+. Tickets are available here.

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Interviews

Face to Face

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This Friday, Face to Face will release their ninth full-length, Protection. It marks the band’s return to Fat Wreck Chords, a label they last worked with for the release of their debut album in 1993. We spoke with singer/guitarist Trever Keith and talked about the homecoming, as well as what it was like recording Protection with producer Bill Stevenson. We also discussed what some of the record’s songs are about, how the band plans to celebrate their 25th anniversary this year, upcoming tours and more. While the essence of Face to Face’s early material shines through on this album, so too do plenty of modern styles. The end result finds the band recalling past work to help further their current songwriting, and sounding especially invigorated while doing so. Click here to view…

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Interviews

The Falcon

Cover photo by Katie Hovland and Layout by David Holtz

Cover photo by Katie Hovland and Layout by David Holtz

Next month, The Falcon is set to release its first album in nearly a decade. We met up with singer/guitarist Brendan Kelly at the GMan Tavern to discuss the record in detail. We talked about the band’s new guitarist, Dave Hause, and how his contributions helped to shape the album’s sound. Original members Dan Andriano, (Alkaline Trio) and Neil Hennessy, (The Lawrence Arms) are of course still onboard for the ride. We also spoke about how the record was written, what it was like recording with Dan Tinkler at Atlas Studios and how the album’s cover came to be. Additionally, we conversed about the record’s dark lyrical content and how it mirrors the style of the music. Longtime fans will be eager to find the band exploring new sounds, but at the same time retaining the characteristics that they’re best known for. By all accounts, Gather Up The Chaps finds The Falcon sounding very much revitalized and ready for take-off. Click here to view…

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Interviews

Still Alive

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In August of last year, Chicago’s Still Alive released their latest record, Choices. We recently spoke with singer/guitarist Dan Alfonsi and talked about what recording the album was like. We also discussed some of the record’s lyrics and its general theme. In addition, we conversed about how the band has continued to progress its unique sound, which integrates genres like metal, ska, hardcore and more. While Still Alive may defy easy classifications, they’re certainly a band deserving of increased attention. They’ve got a lot planned for the year ahead, and with any luck their persistent work ethic will result in an expanded audience. Click here to view…

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Interviews

Elway

elway

Photo by Katie Hovland

We caught up with Elway last fall after they played Riot Fest Chicago. We spoke with three of their four members, (singer/guitarist Tim Browne, guitarist Brian Van Proyen and drummer Garrett Carr). Bassist Joe Henderer unfortunately could not be present. We discussed the band’s latest album for Red Scare Industries, Better Whenever, including how it was written and the manner in which it was recorded. The record finds Elway experimenting with new songwriting techniques, while at the same time penning lyrics that represent some of the most personal they’ve written to date. We talked with Browne extensively about the reasons for this, as well as the band’s new outlook moving forward and more. Click here to view…

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Interviews

Meat Wave

Photo by Katie Hovland

This fall, Meat Wave released their second album and first for Side One Dummy, entitled Delusion Moon. We recently spoke with singer/guitarist Chris Sutter and talked about what writing and recording the record was like, as well as what some of its songs are about. We also discussed the album’s cover art, some of the band’s recent tours and their plans for next year. Don’t forget to check out Meat Wave when they play Ian’s Party on Sunday, January 3rd at Double Door. Click here to view…

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Ian’s Party 2016

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Poster art by Frank Okay

The ninth annual Ian’s Party is scheduled to take place this January 1st through the 3rd, at Double Door, Subterranean and the Chop Shop. The event began in Elgin and moved to Logan Square in 2011, but this year has shifted to Wicker Park in hopes of creating more of a festival feel with the venues located so closely together. This year’s lineup is nothing if not eclectic, with genres ranging from pop punk to folk to electronic. A majority of the scheduled bands are also Chicago-based. The shows are 17+ and three-day passes can be purchased here for the only $25, but the price will increase to $30. Single-day passes are available on all venue sites for $12 or they’ll cost $15 at the door. Friday will feature sets from The Brokedowns, Prizzy Prizzy Please, Drilling for Blasting, Truman and His Trophy, Rad Payoff and approximately 15 other bands. Saturday will host Absolutely Not, Vacation Bible School, Sass Dragons, Dethwarrant, Al Scorch, Canadian Rifle, Elephant Gun and over a dozen more. Sunday concludes with Panda Riot, The Howl, Sweet Cobra, Brickfight, The Mons, Mean Sean and many additional acts, including local favorites Meat Wave. Half Acre Beer Company is sponsoring the entire event, which promises to maintain its party-like atmosphere while simultaneously showcasing some of the most exciting bands in Chicago’s underground. Check out some of the tracks below for a sample of what to expect this year.

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Interviews

Red Fang

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Portland’s Red Fang turned ten this year and with three acclaimed studio albums and an ever-growing international army of devotees, the band has no plans to slow down. Though a cursory listen would put them in the metal category, their fan base expands far beyond metal. Their particular brand of heavy music is a unique distillation of thrash, sludge, pop and punk. Their music itself is very serious, but yet they’ve managed not to alienate the purists with their humorous sensibilities, e.g. releasing a video featuring the band saving the world’s beer supply from rabid, drunken zombies. While their antics have made the band mildly divisive to some, Red Fang overwhelmingly wins in the end. The heaviness stops with the music – no tough-guy bullshit and no silly metal posturing. It’s a victorious concoction of pilsner, black t-shirts, laughs and riffs. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Dave Sullivan, (guitar) and John Sherman, (drums) to chat about these things, as well as the tropes of genre terminology, how to conduct yourself on tour and more. Three dudes and three tall-boys later, this is what resulted. Click here to view…

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Turnspit – “Lamplighters”

Chicago’s Turnspit formed in 2014 and features singer/guitarist Jason Douglass Swearingen, (Love & Squalor) singer/guitarist Gillian McGhee, bassist Jason Duarte and drummer Dan Tinkler, (Dog & Wolf). Despite only having played a handful of shows, the band is set to open for The Lawrence Arms at Double Door on Friday, December 11th. The night will also serve as a record release show for Turnspit’s debut EP, I Wonder If They’re Happy. It was recorded by their drummer at both Atlas Studios and in his home. Check out a song from the EP below called “Lamplighters” and for those attending the sold-out show on 12/11, plan on getting there early to catch this new and emerging act.

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