Hello guys, how are you? Welcome back to IBR headquarters once again! It’s a pleasure to chat with you again! MIKE: Ciao bello, thanks for having us back. All is good here, hope things are great for you as well.
So, September 5 2012. It’s a very important date to me. Well, being that you guys are such a hard-working band, this day doesn’t make a lot of sense to you but actually it was the date of the first show I booked (together with my buddy Ame) since I moved to Milan. IBR wasn’t a thing at the time but I clearly remember everything and that show really pushed me to start doing something (that I hoped would be cool) in Milan. Do you remember that show/weekend we spent together? MIKE: Of course, I remember, we were with our Chinese bassplayer Zhong at the time and it was one of the first shows of a month-long tour. It was at Ligera and you got us some great pasta, from your mom or grandma if I’m not mistaken. You did a great job there and were a gracious host. Your apartment was lovely too. Do you still live there? There was this abandoned building next door, which our GPS told us was actually your place (haha). I’m happy it wasn’t!
Yes, I still live there but the abandoned building is now destroyed!ahahah! So 8 years later, and after thousands of shows, what has changed for DeeCracks? (Don’t say bass-players! 🙂 ) MATT: Not very much really, We all have gotten a little older but I’d like to say the attitude hasn’t changed.
In Addition to DeeCracks, you all have different side-projects (Matt with Ratcliffs & Jagger Holly) (Mike … I can’t count how many bands that you play with) how do you manage to keep up with all of those different obligations? Also, a bit of news over the past few days. It was announced that Mike will play the drums at Punk Rock Raduno for the Mopes, how did this amazing opportunity come about? MIKE: Yeah, it’s so awesome! I can’t wait for that show! I’m really excited for it. Basically Jughead texted me to see if I could play at Punk Rock Raduno with Mopes and of course I said yes. Jughead teamed up with us and Will from Zatopeks to do a special Screeching Weasel/Mopes/Even in Blackouts set at our Sweet Sixteen Festival last September, so I guess, he must have liked the way I played there. I’m super happy about it! I’m always grateful when someone approaches me to fill in or play in a band with them, it’s always an honour and it fills my heart that people dig my drumming, after all, it’s my happy place.
Let’s talk about Punk Rock Raduno. It’s not the biggest festival, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the most beloved festival in the world. Being that you played/attended at every edition, what are your feelings about the festival? And what do you think is the secret behind the success of the festival? MATT: Hm… well if you are looking at Europe during springtime and summer you might have noticed there’s a ton of festivals going on! If you ask me, there’s way too many. Every now and then we are playing some of them but I have to say I don’t really like it. It’s just very unpersonal and stressful. Raduno feels a bit different though. It feels more like a family reunion, you know? Everybody’s there for the same cause! Bands and fans! It’s like amongst all of those parties there’s one just for us!
It’s pretty well-known that way back in 2013, you were banned from USA. I don’t wanna go back to that infamous story but is the ban permanent or are you working on finding a solution to be able to go back to USA? MIKE: Yeah, it’s a never-ending story really. As of now we are still banned, but we are still trying to make it back there one day. Never say never! Maybe once Matt will write a worldwide sensational big hit song, we’ll make it (haha).
Although this sad story might have demoralized a touring band, you rolled up your sleeves and toured everywhere possible. We’re talking Russia, Israel, China, Mexico, Turkey, just to name a few, most of which are not really conventional destinations for punk rock bands. What can you tell us about the punk rock scene in those countries? Leather jackets and ripped blue jeans? MATT: Our main goal has always been getting around as much as possible. We hardly ever turn down offers, especially when it’s about shows or tours abroad. The cool thing about punk rock is that it connects the people all over the world. Scenes are the same everywhere.
Of course there are cultural differences In different places. Like for example Japanese bands practice hard until they reach perfection, while we don’t (haha). And by the way, no one should be “demoralized” because they got kicked out of the USA.
Last summer you guys did a great tour with the legendary CJ Ramone. How it was? What can you tell us about CJ? How is CJ behind the curtain? Any funny stories you would like to share with us? MATT: We like to remember it as the ‘No AC Tour‘. It was kinda hard because last summer was brutally hot… But every show was great! It was professional to a certain degree (which we aren’t really used to), but the atmosphere was super relaxed! CJ is a great guy and really down to earth and yet absolutely aware of how big of a impact the Ramones were on thousands and thousands of people (was and still are) We were really grateful that he chose us to support him on his (final???) Euro tour. And yes, there are some funny stories but I don’t think I wanna share them here (haha).
Let’s talk about records, Sonic Delusions is your latest full length album and two years later, are you satisfied with the final result? What is the general feedback or opinions that you got from friends and fans? What’s it like being on a major label now? MIKE: Yeah man, it’s been great. Our fans really seemed to enjoy it and thanks to Pirates Press Records we found some new listeners, that we hadn’t reached before. I wouldn’t do anything differently with it really, maybe the artwork wasn’t our strongest, but that’s a matter of taste. We wanted to stick out and be different then the other bands on PPR, not only sound wise. So, it was all good. It’s not a major label though, it’s a very ambitious punk rock indie label that’s turning the right screws. We’re really happy to be a part of it and thankful for the opportunity. We like the fact that we got a special place in their hearts also, as we are a little different. Pirates Press and DeeCracks is not an obvious fit, but they took a chance on us and we took a chance on them, and we both thrived with our matching work ethics, vision and spirit. So, in my mind, it’s perfect.
For your upcoming italian tour you will release a new 7″ “…Can’t Get It Right” through Striped Records and Bad Man Records which has two brand new songs and two songs that were previously released on compilations. What can you tell us about it? I had the chance to listen to them ahead of time (thanks for doing that!!!) and I can say it’s another solid release in your discography! MATT: Well the “new” songs are actually taken from the 2017 Sonic Delusions session. We always record extra material for 7″s, compilations and so on. (well I guess every band does that…), “Killed by Death” was featured on the Mom’s Basement‘s HEAD tribute compilation and then there’s a newly recorded version of the song ‘Caroline’ (the original one was part of the OCW 30 seconds songs compilation). We are really happy to have Striped with us for this one since they always did a great job taking care of our merch!
Whats next for you guys after the Italian Tour? New album? Big tour in the farest corners of the world? MIKE: You know us, there is no stopping us from hangover hoppin’ all around the world. We’ll be hitting the road again in April around Europe, mostly Gemany, Austria and bella Italia. In May we will record a new album, Pirates Press is gonna release it once it’s ready. So we’re looking forward to that. We will be touring in France and Spain in fall and we’ll do Japan again sometime in 2021. That’s all, more definite plans will come once the new record is ready, so stay tuned.
Before letting you go, this is your chance to say what you want to say and ask me a question!! It’s always a big pleasure to talk to you, see you at NoReason Fest! MIKE: Andrea, thanks again for the interview. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. But what can I ask you? Hmmm… Can I just ask you to just keep up the good work? Keep booking and playing shows, keep IBR and your bands alive, help shape and build the Italian punk rock scene and bring it to the rest of the globe… just keep your heart out there and keep being you. Can you do that for me?
Oh sure, Mike! I will never give up my friend!
Special Thanks Goes To John Proffitt Jr. for editing the interview
Dopo aver avuto il piacere di intervistare Dan Vapid, ecco per noi un’altra intervista con un personaggio di grandissimo valore: John “Jughead” Pierson. Fondatore degli Screeching Weasel, ma anche The Mopes e Even In Blackouts. Servono ulteriori presentazioni? Jughead è Jughead e se non sapete chi è e cosa fa, non è un mio problema. Buona lettura!
[ANDREA] – Ciao John, è un grandissimo onore per noi di I Buy Records poter scambiare qualche chiacchiera con te. Prima di tutto, come stai? [JOHN] – Come sto dipende tutto da quandoti ritrovi a leggere ciò. Se è di mattina, probabilmentesono arrabbiato perchè devoessere alzarmi dal letto. Se è di pomeriggio, probabilmente hogiàavuto modo dialzarmi dal letto eora sonoprontoper qualsiasi cosa il giorno mipresenta,se si tratta diprima serataprobabilmente hofame, e ci sono probabilità che io stiatagliando erosolandocipollee pomodori, e, auspicabilmente,funghi. Amoi funghi. Se è tarda serata, probabilmente sto scrivendoqualcosa di simile aquello che stai leggendo, perché è a quest’ora chefaccio del mio meglionella scrittura. Se èil weekend, molto probabilmente sto bevendo Rum eCoca epasso del tempo conla mia fidanzata Paigein una cittàche mi piacerebbe lasciare. Sonoa Cincinnatifino a metàmaggio del 2013,poi di nuovoa Chicago. Scommettoche è unarispostapiù lunga di quella che ti saresti aspettato.
[A] – Puoi essere considerato un’artista a 360°: Scrittore, Attore di Teatro, Musicista: il nostro obiettivo è di toccare un po’ tutti questi punti. Partiamo quindi parlando della tua attività letteraria, hai scritto due libri che hanno avuto ottimi riscontri e che ho appena acquistato ( Weasels In A Box e The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody). Riusciresti a farmi una breve presentazione di entrambi i libri per ulteriormente invogliarmi a leggerli? [J] – Ho la fortunadi aver avutola possibilità didedicarmi auna vitaproduttivacreativache haicosì amorevolmentedefinito da “Artista a 360°”. L’unica carriera chehosognatofin da bambinoera quello diessere unromanziere. Questo è statol’unico dei mieiobiettivi per la mia carriera sinda quando mi è possibile ricordare.I due libriche hai citatosono i prodottiditutte le mie esperienzeche cercano dimanifestarsiinciò che ho semprevolutodel mio destino.
Detto questo,ho molto ancora da migliorare, masono molto orgogliosodi come i mieiprimi duetentativi di scrittura diun romanzosono andati. Weasels in A Box è stato il mio tentativo discrivere degliScreechingWeaselsenza che prendessela forma di undiario del tour. L’obiettivoprincipale era quello dinon parlare solodella storiadella band, ma di essere in grado di esprimerecome MI sentivo nel vivere questa esperienza.Si tratta di unaesplorazionemolto astratta esurrealedi essereon the road einiziare acapire il concetto di Semi-Fama. Alcuni musicistiespertimi hanno dettoche la storiacatturala sensazione diessere in tour con una band semi–famosa con estrema precisione.The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbodyè una rivisitazionedel film La vita è meravigliosa. Esplorauna serie discelte diverseprese, non solo da parte di George Baileye ClarenceOdbody, ma in particolar modo da tuttii personaggi secondari. Ladomanda postaè: “Cosasarebbe successo seClarence avesse deciso di nonsalvareGeorgequella nottesul ponteghiacciato?” Come molti deimiei interessinella scrittura, al centroc’è l’indagine sull’identità personale eciò che accadealle tuescelte di vita quando tutto quello che saiessere veroriguardo te stessoe le personeintorno a te, non è più valido.
[A] – Quali sono i tuoi scrittori preferiti? Hanno in qualche modo influenzato il tuo stile? Cosa stai leggendo al momento?
[J] – Il mioscrittore preferitononchè il piùinfluente èMilan Kundera, in particolareil suo libro L’Immortalità.Hadeciso discrivere un libro chepotesse essere SOLO un libro, non un film, o un atto teatrale, maun libro.Mi piace l’idea di trasformare un libro in un film, ma credo ancheche dovrebbero averepropri obiettiviche non possonoessere espressi in qualsiasialtro formato. La sua scrittura èmoltofilosofica, maanchemolto personalee sorprendentementesemplice nella suarappresentazionedellacondizionedi essere umano. Mi piacerebbescriverecosì!In questo momentosto leggendoDracula. Non posso credere chenon l’abbia mai letto prima, è l’unico“monster classic”che non ho letto. Sto avendodifficoltà a terminarlo. E’ uscito da tanto tempo ed è statoreinterpretato incosì tanti modi diversichenon riesco aleggeresenza saperecosa sta peraccadere.
[A] – Hai in mente un terzo libro? [J] –Sìho appenainiziato a scrivereun libro intitolatoThe Plight Of The Lampoons. E’ lastoria di una famigliadei cartoni animati che inspiegabilmente appare nella vita realeinun quartiereperiferico, con casa e tutto. I bambini deiLampoonstanno cercandodi capireda dove sono venuti, il motivo per cuisembrano essereindistruttibili, e come maisi sentono così incredibilmentesoli.
[A] – “The Neo-Futurists” è la compagnia teatrale con la quale collabori. C’è qualche legame con il movimento nato in Italia agli inizi del 20simo secolo? Che tipo di opere interpretate e quali temi vi interessano?
[J] –Questa è una domandamoltocomplessa. Primo:Sì, il creatorede TheNeo-Futuristsha studiato ifuturisti italiani, e ha combinatomolte dei lorocrediartistici conmovimenti artisticisuccessivitra cui idadaisti, i surrealisti, e gli happening.
Secondo: Lo stileteatraleche utilizziamo perscrivere e recitare èimmediato, nonillusorio, politico, e molto personale. Il nostro spettacoloprincipale si chiamaToo Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, che è stato recitato a Chicago in pubblicoogni fine settimana in sold out da oltre 22anni!Ho fatto partedella compagnia per16 anni.In molti luoghisono conosciuto molto di più come Neo-Futurist che come unmusicistapunk. Ho scrittopiù di 400corti teatralie circa 15atti teatrali completi con questa compagnia e la miapropria compagnia Hope And Nonthings. Terzo: Scopritelo da soli–www.neofuturists.org
[A] – Anche se probabilmente non è famoso in USA, il teatro italiano ha una scuola antichissima che ha reso celebri, almeno in Europa, tanti attori. Guardando solamente alla più recente tradizione italiana, mi vengono in mente Carmelo Bene e Dario Fo. Ne hai mai sentito parlare? Se si, cosa ne pensi?
[J] – Mi dispiace ma no. Conosco più l’arte che il teatro italiano, anche se il mio scrittore preferito è Luigi Pirandello. Ho cercatouna manieraper poter insegnarein Italia. Mi piacerebbestudiare teatroitaliano eportare un po’ del mio stile in esso.
[A] – Domanda secca: ti senti più attore di teatro oppure un musicista?
[J] –La domanda è un po’ fuorviante, perché non riuscirei adimmaginaredi esserel’uno senza l’altro. Mi piace laprofonda concentrazione per la creazioneed esecuzione di un pezzo teatrale, manon sono maifelice come quando sto suonando la chitarrasu un palcodi fronte aun pubblicoche si scatena al ritmo della musica e va in sing along. Il primomi faconcentrare, il secondoè una via di fuga. Fondamentalmente mi immagino di essereparte diqualcosa di originale,è l’elemento chetiene insieme il tuttoper me, non importa quale forma assuma, una volta passatala suacreazione iniziale.
[A] – Seguo con interesse il tuo blog e, visto che sono nato e cresciuto da quelle parti, ho apprezzato in particolare il racconto del tuo viaggio alla scoperta della Sicilia e del Sud Italia. Perchè ti ha colpito così tanto il modo di vivere che abbiamo da quelle parti? Consiglieresti ad un amico di andarci? [J] –Mi sento di raccomandare tutto il pianeta di andare in Italiae in Siciliaalmeno una volta nellaloro vita.Ma non tutti in una volta. Sarebberidicolo, molto sgradevole, e probabilmenteimpossibile.Immagino che siamoltodiversoviverein Italiacome cittadino, ma per mec’erauna libertà, una passione, unapresa di coscienza collettivareciproca, che non hoprovatoin nessun’altra parte delmondo. Penso inoltre cheil paesaggioe le personesono belle,nello spirito,eancheda guardare.
[A] – Ogni volta che prendo in mano il libretto della ristampa di My Brain Hurts (Asian Man Records) mi commuovo nel leggere le vostre storie sugli inizi degli Screeching Weasel. Come racconti, anche voi avete fatto tanta gavetta, tanti kilometri in giro per gli Stati Uniti e suonato davanti 2 persone prima di raggiungere il successo e tante soddisfazioni. Come è stato il primo concerto in assoluto? [J] –Nonmi ricordocome è stato il nostroprimo concerto. Potrebbe essere statoquello nellacantina del mio amicoMatt. In realtà c’è un video diquel concertoin giro da qualche parte. Inclusa anche un’ intervistaalla band. Recentemente Vapid mi ha dettoche èabbastanza sicuro cheera a quel concerto. Lo trovostrano. Si unì alla band solo dopo circa dueanni.Iprimi spettacoliche ricordo hanno avuto luogo in un bar per maggiori di21 anni chiamatoBatteries Not Included. Era unpiccolo squallido barsul lato norddi Chicago dove si facevano concerti punkdopo le 10pm. Questo è il posto dove abbiamo vistoeincontrato i membri deiStiffsBhopal, uno dei miei gruppi punk preferitidi Chicago. Quello che miricordo di più diquestiprimi concertiè cheero cosìtesoper suonare di fronte aun pubblico cheavrei potuto romperealmeno 5cordeper ogni concerto, enon mi sarei nemmeno preoccupatodi metterequellenuove. Mapenso anche cheBenha cominciato acoltivarele sue diatribe con ilpubblicoin questo periodo, perché dovevacoprirmi percambiare le corde. L’altro ricordoè stato quandoil nostro amicoche lavoravain un ospedalepsichiatricoha portatoalcuni paziential nostro show. Un ragazzo alto e magro con i capelli a spazzola restò nudo duranteil nostro show, in piedi davantial palcoe iniziò asalutare ilpubblico.
[A] – Come hai anche dichiarato sul blog, tu e Dan Vapid siete di nuovo in buoni rapporti e questo non può che renderci felici. Pensi che nel futuro ci potrà essere la possibilità che collaboriate e perchè no, magari di una reunion dei THE MOPES? [J] – Non lo escludo totalmente, ma penso davveroche non sia un pensieronella testadi Dano nella mia.Siamo andatiin direzioni musicali moltediverseda quando abbiamolavorato insieme, quindi non so sesia utile opossibile per noifarlo.Ma Vapid si unirà alJughead’s Basement Podcast. Condurremo insiemeun episodiosu uno dei nostrigruppipreferitidi ChicagochiamatoNaked Raygun. Entrambi realizzeremo interviste con imembri della band, e faremo unelencodi scrittori per scrivere pezzi basati sul disco dei Naked Raygun, ThrobThrob. Quandomi ha detto chegli piacevail mio podcast, gli ho subitochiesto didarmi una mano nel modo in cui gli sarebbe piaciuto. E’ un grande fandella musica punk,molto più di me, e può sicuramenteaggiungereuna prospettivaimportante a quello che pensosia giàun podcastin costante miglioramento.
[A] – Non ti manca l’emozione di salire sul palco come musicista? Ho letto la tua intervista per Punk Rock Pravda e sembra che il progetto EVEN IN BLACKOUTS sia ripartito, ma con il nome EIB. Qualche news in anteprima? [J] –Abbiamodeciso di nonchiamarloEven In Blackouts or EIB per rispetto neiconfronti dei nostriinsostituibili compagni, NathanBicee PhillipHill.Non abbiamo ancoradeciso il nome, maavremouna canzonein tre partichiamateI WILL NOTsull’album tributo ai Vindictives che sarà pubblicato dallaSexy Baby Records. Inoltre vivrò aCincinnatifino a metàmaggioin tour con unacompagnia teatraledelle marionettechiamatoMadcap. Quindi non possiamoessere troppoattivifino al mio ritorno. Abbiamo intenzione difare unpaio dispettacolinei salotti nei mesi di giugnoe lugliodel 2013. I membri della bandsono:LizEldredge, GubConway, JohnBliss, e JohnSzymanski. Questa sarà laprima volta cheio e Lizavremo unaband in cuituttii membri vivono a Chicago.(Beh … Questo sarà veroquando torneròa maggio).
[A] – Cosa stai ascoltando al momento? Qualche band/disco da consigliarci? [J] – Nonho tante possibilità diascoltare musicain questi giorni. Ma recentemente hoscopertouna band chiamata TheMixtapes, e la nuova banddi Vapidè la cosa miglioreche ha fatto ultimamente.Entrambi i gruppinon solo suonano benemadecisamente scrivono canzonipoporecchiabilie intelligento.Inoltre mi piacetutto ciò chefa KodyTempleman.Vogliodisperatamente lavorare ancora con lui.
[A] – Escludendo i membri dei RAMONES, (altrimenti sarebbe troppo facile) riusciresti a comporre la tua band punk-rock dei sogni? Ti concedo al massimo due chitarristi! [J] –Mi dispiacedire chei Ramonesnon sarebbe nemmeno nella top tendella mia lista. Mi piacela loro musica, e hanno cambiatoilmondo per lo piùin meglio, ma non sono maistati nellatop tendei miei preferiti. Se rimaniamoall’interno delpunk rockdovreidire:
Anche se pensoche probabilmente avrebbero un suonoorribileinsieme, e qualcunofinirebbemorto. Ma…Per un momentosarebbeincredibile!
[A] – Con l’ultima domanda colgo l’occasione di ringraziarti per il tempo che gentilmente ci hai dedicato. Quali sono gli obiettivi di Jughead per il 2013? Ci sarà magari l’occasione di riverderti in Italia, nel futuro? [J] – Al momento non ci sono pianiper venirein Italia, mase la nuova band “EIB” decide di andare intour,l’Italiasarà sempre il nostro postopreferitodove andare. Per orarimarròa Cincinnatie sarò intour attraversoil Midwest con un grande e stravaganteshow di marionettepermigliaia dibambini delle scuole elementari. Poiquando tornoa Chicagoinsegnerò ai mieicorsi di teatroe tornerò sulpalco con lo spettacolo de The Neo-Futurists, Too
Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blindper i mesi di giugnoe luglio. Continuerò anche il mio lavoro per il Jughead’s Basement. Vorreidire cheil mio romanzosi concluderànel 2013, ma di solitofinisce che mi prendo almeno5 anni per completare. Vedremo!
fter we had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Vapid, we have another interview with a character of great value: John “Jughead” Pierson. Founder of Screeching Weasel, but also The Mopes and Even In Blackouts. Need more presentations? Jughead is Jughead and if you do not know who he is and what he does, it’s not my problem. Happy reading!
[ANDREA] – Hi John, it is a great honor for us of I Buy Records! to talk with you. First of all, how are you?
[JOHN] – How I am all depends on when someone is reading this. If it is the morning, I’m probably angry that I have to be up. If it’s the afternoon, I’ve probably gotten used to being up and am now ready for whatever the day presents, if it’s early evening I’m probably hungry, and chances are I’m slicing and sautéing onions and tomatoes, and hopefully Mushrooms. I love mushrooms. If it’s late evening, I’m probably typing something similar to what you are reading, because that’s when I do my best writing. If it’s the weekend I’m probably drinking Rum and Cokes and spending time with my girlfriend Paige in a city I’d like to get out of. I’m in Cincinnati till Mid May 2013, then back to Chicago. I bet that’s a longer answer than you expected.
[A] – I feel you can be considered an artist at 360 °: Writer, Actor, and Musician: My desire is to touch a bit on all these points. So let’s start by talking about your literary activities. You’ve written two books that have had great feedback and that I just bought from Amazon ( Weasels In A Box e The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody). Could you make me a brief presentation of both books for further encouragement to read them?
[J] – I have been lucky to have had the chance to indulge myself in such a productive creative life that you have so lovingly referred to as “Artist at 360 °” One of the only careers I dreamed of since childhood was to be a novelist. This has been one of my only career goals since before I can remember. The two books you mentioned are the products of all my experiences trying to manifest themselves into what I have always demanded of my destiny.
With that said, I have much improvement ahead of me, but I am very proud of how my first two endeavors into writing a novel have turned out. Weasels in A Box was my attempt to write about Screeching Weasel without it taking the form of a tour diary. The main goal was to not only talk about the history of the band but to be able to express how it felt TO ME to experience it. It is a very abstract and surreal exploration of being on the road and beginning to understand the concept of Semi-Fame. A few seasoned musicians have told me that the story captures the feeling of touring in a semi-famous band very accurately. The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody is a retelling of the move It’s A Wonderful Life. It explores a series of different choices taken by not only George Bailey and Clarence Odbody, but also even more so all the secondary characters. The question asked is “What would have happened if Clarence decided not to save George that night on the icy bridge?” Like many of my writing pursuits, at the core is investigating personal identity and what happens to your life choices when everything you know to be true about yourself and the people around you, is no longer valid.
[A] – Who are your favorite writers? Somehow have they influenced your style? What are you reading at the moment?
[J] – My favorite writer and most influential is Milan Kundera, more specifically his book Immortality. He set out to write a book that could ONLY be a book, not a movie, or a play, but a book. I love the idea of mixing medias but I also do feel that each media should have it’s own goals unable to be expressed in any other format. His writing is very philosophical but also very personal and surprisingly simple in their portrayal of the plight of being human. I would love to write like that! Right now I am reading Dracula. I can’t believe I never read it before, it’s the only “monster classic” that I hadn’t read. I’m having trouble getting through it. It’s just been around so long and reinterpreted so many different ways that I can’t read it without knowing what is going to happen next.
[A] – Are you thinking about a third book?
[J] – Yes I just started writing a book called The Plight Of The Lampoons. It is the story of a cartoon family that inexplicably appears in a real life suburban neighborhood, house and all. The Lampoon children are trying to figure out where they came from, why they appear to be indestructible, and how come they all feel so incredibly alone.
[A] – “The Neo-Futurists” is the theater group which you work with. Is there any link with the movement that was born in Italy in the early 20th century? What kind of act do you perform and what issues does it concern?
[J] – That’s a very complicated question.
First: Yes, the creator of the Neo-Futurists studied the Italian Futurists, and combined many of their artistic beliefs with later art movements including The Dadaists, The Surrealists, and The Happenings.
Second: The theatrical style in which we write and perform in is immediate, non-illusory, political, and very personal. Our main show is called Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, which has run in Chicago to sold out audiences every weekend for over 22 years! I have been a part of the company for 16 years. In many places I am much more known as a Neo-Futurist than as a punk musician. I have written over 400 short plays and about 15 Full length plays with this company and my own company Hope And Nonthings. Third: Find out for yourself – www.neofuturists.org
[A] – Although it is probably not famous in the U.S., the Italian theater has an old school that has made many actors famous, at least in Europe. Looking only at the most recent Italian tradition, I think about Carmelo Bene and Dario Fo. Have you ever heard of them? If yes, what do you think?
[J] – Sadly I have not. I know more about Italian Art than theater, although my favorite playwright is Luigi Pirandello. I have been trying to find a way to teach in Italy. I would love to study Italian theater and bring a little bit of my own style to it.
[A] – Direct question: do you feel you are more an actor or a musician?
[J] – That question is slightly misleading, because I couldn’t conceive of being one without the other. I love the deep concentration that goes into creating, and performing, a theater piece, but I’m never happier than when I am playing guitar on a stage in front of an audience bopping and singing along. The former makes me concentrate, the latter let’s me escape. Ultimately I imagine being a part of something original is the element which holds it all together for me, no matter what form it takes once passed it’s initial creation.
[A] – I am following your blog with great interest and I especially enjoyed the story of your trip to discover Sicily and Southern Italy, as being born and raised close by there. Why you were so touched by the way of life we have there? Would you recommend a friend to visit Southern Italy?
[J] – I would recommend that everyone on the entire planet go to Italy and Sicily at least once in their life. But everybody shouldn’t go all at once. That would be ridiculous, very unpleasant, and probably impossible. I imagine it’s much different living in Italy as a citizen, but for me there was a freedom, a passion, a collective awareness of one another, that I haven’t experienced anywhere else in the world. Plus I think the scenery and the people are beautiful, in spirit, and also to look at.
[A] – Every time I read the booklet in the reprint of My Brain Hurts (Asian Man Records) I was moved to read your stories about the beginnings of Screeching Weasel. As you explained, also you have come from a long apprenticeship, with many miles touring around the United States and playing in front of two people before achieving success and great satisfaction. How was the first gig ever?
[J] – I really don’t remember what our first gig was. It may have been the one in my friend Matt’s basement. There is actually a video of that show floating around somewhere. It includes an interview with the band. Vapid recently told me that he is pretty sure that he was at that show. I find that odd. He didn’t join the band till a about two years later. The early shows I remember the most took place at a 21 and over bar called Batteries Not Included. It was a run down dive bar on the Northside of Chicago that used to have punk shows after 10pm. This is where we saw and met the members of Bhopal Stiffs, one of my favorite Chicago punk bands. What I remember most about these early shows is that I was so tense to be playing in front of an audience that I would break at least 5 strings a show, and sometimes I wouldn’t bother to put new ones on. But also I think Ben began to nurture his audience diatribes during this time, because he had to cover for me changing strings. The other memory was when our friend who worked at a psychiatric hospital brought some patients to our show. I very tall slender well built crew-cut-wearing fellow stripped himself naked during our show, stood in front of the stage and started saluting the audience.
[A] – As you also stated on the blog, you and Dan Vapid are back on good terms and this can only make us the fans very happy. Do you think that in the future there may be a possibility of a collaboration and why not, maybe a reunion of THE MOPES?
[J] I would never rule it out, but I don’t think it is really a thought in Dan’s head or mine. We have gone in many different direction musically since we worked together, so I don’t know if it would be beneficial or possible for us to do that. But Vapid will be joining me on the Jughead’s Basement Podcast. We are co-hosting an episode about one of our mutually favored Chicago bands called Naked Raygun. We will both being conducting interviews with the band members, and compiling a list of writers to write pieces based on the Naked Raygun record Throb Throb. When he told me that he enjoyed my podcast, I immediately asked him to help out in anyway that he would like. He is a much bigger fan of punk music than myself, and he can definitely add an important perspective to what I think is already a steadily improving podcast.
[A] – Do not you miss the thrill of going on stage as a musician? I read your interview for Punk Rock Pravda and it seems that EVEN IN BLACKOUTS run again, but as EIB. Is there anything new developing with EIB that you can tell us about?
[J] – We have decided not to call it Even In Blackouts or EIB in respect to our irreplaceable bandmates, Nathan Bice and Phillip Hill. We have not decided on a name yet, but we will have a three part song called I WILL NOT on the Vindictive’s Tribute album put out by Sexy Baby Records. Also I am living in Cincinnati till mid May touring in a Puppet theater company called Madcap. So we can’t be too active until I get back. We plan on having a few living room shows in June and July of 2013. The band members include: Liz Eldredge, Gub Conway, John Bliss, and John Szymanski. This will be the first time Liz and I will have a band in which ALL members are located in Chicago. (Well… This will be true when I return in May.)
[A] – What are you listening to at the moment? Are there any bands/records you’ve heard recently that you’d like to recommend?
[J] – I don’t get a chance to listen to much music these days. But I have recently discovered a band called The Mixtapes, and Vapid’s new band is the best he’s done in awhile. Both those bands cannot only play well but they consistently write catchy and smart pop songs. Also I love anything that Kody Templeman does. I want desperately to work with him again.
[A] – Excluding members of the Ramones, (otherwise it would be too easy) could you tell us who the punk-rock band of your dreams would consist of? I’ll give you a maximum of two guitarists!
[J] – I’m sorry to say that The Ramones wouldn’t even be on the top ten of my list. I love their music, and they changed the world mostly for the better, but they have never been a top ten favorite of mine.
If we stay within punk rock I’d have to say:
Although I think they would probably sound horrible together, and someone would end up dead. But… For a hot moment it would be Amazing!
[A] – With the last question I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the time you kindly gave us. What are the targets for 2013 of Jughead? Maybe there will be an opportunity to see you again in Italy, in the upcoming future?
[J] – There are no plans yet to be in Italy, but if the new “EIB” band decides to tour, Italy will always be our number one place to go. For now I will stay in Cincinnati and tour through the Midwest performing a very large extravagant puppet show for thousands of elementary school children. Then when I get back to Chicago I will be teaching my own theater classes and returning the stage with the Neo-Futurists’ show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind for June and July. I will also be continuing my work on Jughead’s Basement. I would like to say that I will finish my novel in 2013 but they usually end up taking me at least 5 years to complete. We will see!
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