Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to speak with Critical Mass, Denis. A lot of people remember you as the frontman for 88 Fingers Louie. How did the band get started?
Denis Buckley: Dan, Joe and our first drummer Dom had been playing under one or two different names with another singer. When he got the axe, they asked my friend Eric to try out and I tagged along since they practiced just a few minutes from me. Eric bombed (nerves) so I was asked to give it a shot. I guess this would have been at the end of 1992/early 1993? At any rate, the band officially started writing and playing in April of 1993.
CM: 88 released some now classic albums. What were some of the high points and low points of being in the band?
DB: Getting out of the Midwest was definitely a high point! Canada (esp Central and Eastern) always treated us well, and getting to Europe was amazing. On the low side, the factors that led to the breakups of the band certainly stand out. I'd never been the best communicator and I'd let shit fester and then blow up at the guys. Plus I'm Irish all around so there's the whole temper thing. Basically, I didn't handle being on the road very well-too much drinking and various other vices-and after being away for maybe a week, I'd start to go crazy without my family and would begin to harbor resentments.
CM: After the band split up Dan Precision and Joe Principe went on to join Rise Against and Glenn Porter joined Alkaline Trio. What were you up to for those first few years after the bands initial break?
DB: Upon Jeff Dean's invitation, I joined what became The Story So Far in 1999 and had some of my greatest experiences musically. My time with them ended in 2001 and I didn't do anything until 2003 or so and then started singing with Undercast. That band went nowhere fast...just a weird dynamic. Explode and Make Up began in early 2005 and Zero To Sixty was around from 2007 until Fall 2008.
CM: A few years ago you and Dan formed Zero To Sixty and played around a little bit. Did you guy's ever record any material?
DB: Nothing more than a 4 song demo which is too bad. We had some great tunes that we never recorded, but in the end those guys wanted to do more than I was comfortable with at the time.
CM: When 88 regrouped with John Contreras on bass and John Carroll on drums, did you feel the band got a warm welcome back after so long apart?
DB: Oh man, that first show back in August of 2009 was mind blowing! There are so many memories from that show that I'll keep forever, most especially introducing my son before we played "Joyboy" and seeing him stagedive during "Blink" (apparently the song I wrote for him "wasn't fast enough")
CM: It kinda felt like in the blink of an eye we had 88 back. And just as quick, you broke up again! What forced the second break up? And will we ever see the band back together again?
DB: In an effort to clear this up, let me first say that the band was only supposed to play one show. ONE. The buzz surrounding the reunion was pretty high and we got a few other offers (Riot Fest, Groezrock) that were too good to pass up, so we went with it. I maintained throughout these shows that we were taking things one show at a time and not looking too far into the future. My time with 88 has always ended messy and I wanted to make sure that didn't happen again. The band for me came to a stop after plans for a European tour fell through (who's going to say no to Europe?). Out of that came a few great shows in Canada, but once that finished I wanted to walk away, and for the first time do so without malice.
I hesitate to say 88 "broke up", but there are no plans to do anything anytime soon. Give it another 10 years maybe.
CM: You're currently in the band Explode And Make Up with members of The Bomb, Methadones and Tomorrows Gone. How did you 4 get together?
DB: Jeff (Dean) had demoed some hardcore jams and just asked me if I'd want to work on them. I've known Pete (Mittler) for a good 20 years or so (he's MUCH OLDER) and we'd never played in a band together so I knew EAMU would be fun based on that alone. EAMU's had a few drummers over the years and it's nice to be able to play with Ech (Mike Echemendia) again.
CM: EAMU have released a split and an EP. Are there any plans for a full length album?
DB: Good question. We probably have at least another EP in us, but as far as a full length goes it wouldn't happen very soon-we have other bands we're involved with: Jeff has All Eyes West and Noise By Numbers, Pete has The Neutron Bombs and I recently started playing with some friends and family in Eventuals. I kind of like sporadically recording and releasing EP's, so we'll see.
CM: Being from Chicago you must have a lot of influential bands that have played a major part in your songwriting. Who are some of you favorite local talents?
DB: Coming up, it was our peers: Bollweevils, Apocalypse Hoboken, Oblivion, The Fighters. Going back further, I loved Gear, Sludgeworth, Life Sentence and of course Naked Raygun and Pegboy. As far as newer bands, I'm quite fond of Damp Hay and Textbook.
CM: NICE! Well, before I let you go, where can people find more info about what Explode And Make Up are up to? Is there a website where we can find info on releases, shows and merch?
DB: EAMU does have a Facebook page (as do all of the aforementioned bands 88 Fingers Louie, Eventuals) and you can usually keep current on our happenings through our label: http://undercomm.org/blog/
CM: I wanna thank you again for talking with us at Squid Pro Quo. I can't wait to hear new music from Explode And Make Up! And look forward to seeing you guy's live again in the near future! Thanks again for your time, Denis.
DB: Thanks for asking, Chris! Now go listen to some (old) Soul Asylum, you nutty bastard.