Friday, April 13, 2012

Interview with The Bollweevils

On Saturday April 7, 2012 I was very fortunate to sit down for an exclusive interview with Chicago punk legends, The Bollweevils. The band were set to hit the stage at Brauerhouse in Lombard and breaking in a new bass player. The guys were very candid and open about their career, former band members and what the future holds.

Critical Mass: Thank for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass guys. I appreciate it. Since returning as a band in 2006 you guys have played a few shows as headliners as well as opening for Raygun at Riot Fest and at the HOB. Then the shows kinda slowed down. Will we be seeing more shows in 2012?

Miguel: We'll be playing more shows. If I had my way we would definitely play more shows.

Daryl: There will be more shows this year. We're actually looking to expand and do more shows outside of Chicago which is something we didn't get the opportunity to do earlier with The Bollweevils. And now we had some opportunities arise, so now we're gonna try and exploit those as much as we can.  

CM: In November a new song appeared on Facebook and you guys were quoted as saying "New song that will never see the light of day." Will this tune ever be officially released as either a digital single or on a 7"?

Ken: Well, our plan was to record a bunch of stuff. And we were trying out a particular engineer and a particular recording studio. And even though we liked some parts of it, we didn't like it (as a whole). But at the same time we gotta throw some stuff out there and see what sticks. What did you think of it?

CM: I liked it. I thought you could have thrown it on any of the old records.

Ken: Now, there ya go. (To Daryl) What do you think of that statement?

Daryl: Well, it all depends on what you mean. Does it sound like old records? And it's not...

CM: Well, Heavyweight sounds like it could have come out a year ago. It doesn't sound dated.

Ken: Well, it started out as a demo, and if it turned out good (it would be released). But there were parts that each of us were not happy with. So, unless we're all happy with it...

Daryl: We'll still play it live.

Ken: That song will probably come out again, just re-recorded.

Daryl: Yeah, that's the thing. It has to be redone. We were not happy with the engineer...

Ken: No, we were happy with the engineer. We just didn't like parts of the recording.

CM: The bands been around, on and off, for well over 20 years. Do you feel that there are more people interested in the Bollweevils now than during your initial run as a band?

Daryl: No.

Ken: No.

Pete: I think it was exciting riding that initial wave after getting back together, there was a lot of excitement there. And now it’s just faded.

Daryl: Yeah, the opportunities we had stopped. I mean, the iron was hot and we could have struck it a bunch of times, but we never did because there were circumstances that were beyond our control.

Ken: There's interest. I think the problem is that now we're able to do some more. Whether it’s playing more shows or whether it’s recording some more that will kind of enhance that. At least we didn't come back and suck. At least I don't think we did. I've seen some bands come back and embarrass themselves. So, I'm happy we've never done that. But I think, in the works, it’s been let’s do this and let’s do this, so now we're trying to do that. And part of that interest is playing places like Brauerhouse. It's a nice normal sized venue, and we're playing. And that's kinda what we wanna do. We wanna build that back up.

Daryl: How many bands come out and play in the suburbs?

CM: Not many.

Ken: And that's where we cut our teeth. We've played the suburbs and we've played in the city.

Daryl: We used to play the Elmhurst VFW hall, and that place was packed!

Ken: So that's always been what we've done.

Daryl: We do our own thing, we walk our own way and we get it done. And I don't think we suck when we play.

Miguel: I just wanna say that when they came back around, that was my first opportunity to see the band. So I was very fortunate. And now here I am in the band. It's kind of a fucking cool thing.

CM: Pete, you have been in the band since reforming back in 2003. How did he get involved in the band?

Pete: I actually used to play in a band with Ken here called Kronk. And that was what, in '93? I played in the Four Squares too. And we played at the Fireside (Bowl) all the time. But Kronk is what started it all.

Daryl: Pete really was the glue that kinda made us stay together.

Ken: Yeah, actually without Pete we really wouldn't be a band. I mean fuck Miguel. (Laughter)

Daryl: If it wasn't for Pete and the ability for us to get together and have a guy keep time really well, and who was a good friend, and fits into the band well...we could have played with anybody from the very beginning...

Ken: If we would have had Pete from the beginning we may never have broken up.

Pete: Thank you.

Ken, Bob, when we got back together, Bob pretty much said that if Pete's not playing drums then I'm not in. So, that was the happiest day of my life because I've always wanted to play in a band with him.

Daryl: He's the longest running drummer in the bands history, going on 10 years now.

CM: Do you guys have any contact with your former drummer, Brian?

Daryl: No.

Ken: I don't.

Pete: He wanted to split the songs with us, with me, when we first reunited. He wanted to play half the songs, and I play half.

Ken: I just threw up a little in my mouth (Laughter)

Daryl: The only time I've seen Brian was socially. And I saw him out at a show. But at the same point we haven't kept contact with him. Not really. There's no grudge or anything like that. We're adults so we don't need anything like that. There's no animosity. He's got his own life. He's got a wife now and he's doing what he does with his animals.

Ken: Brian's a stand up guy.

Daryl: He works with the zoo. Last time we talked to him he asked what was going on with the band, so y'know. The bands doing what the bands doing. I'm glad he's back on the Chicagoland area doing what he's doing.

Ken: We're glad he's doing well. Good for him and his wife.

CM: Speaking of former members, you have a new addition, Miguel. How did you get involved in the band?

Miguel. Basically I ran into Daryl at a concert, a Descendents show, and we were both wearing the same shirt and I thought that was cool (Laughs).

Ken: What shirt? A black shirt? (Laughter)

Miguel: It was a Descendents shirt and we were just bullshitting around at the show. And I asked him how Bollweevils were, and he said they were looking for a bass player. I said "well I play bass."  And I tried out and it worked out pretty well.

Ken: Bob lives way out of the way, so as far as playing shows...and he's got 2 kids. So, it was a major undertaking. So, when he decided he didn't wanna do this anymore, and we did, we said, y'know, unless somebody really fits in and kicks ass we're just not gonna do it. It's not worth it. And Miguel came to practice and I think we knew within the first 5 minutes that he was the guy.

Daryl: We had him learn 4 songs and he came in with 8 and it put pressure on us to remember the others.

Ken: I was asking Miguel "How does that song go?" (Laughter) But yeah, for me it was the first 30 seconds. For the other guys it was the first couple of minutes.

Daryl: It's funny because we had a few people we were gonna try out for the band, and I just told him (Ken) that this kid Miguel came to me at a show and wanted to try out.

Ken: I'll tell ya, I've played with Bob since we both learned our instruments together. And it's a pretty tough act to follow. For me, it's a pretty tough act to follow. So I was pretty happy when the kid did it. Thanks Miguel.

Miguel: It was pretty tough for me too because he was the guy in the band. Bob's always been the guy. I always played along to his bass lines learning songs. I was like I wanna follow this guy with momentum rather than one up him and do something completely different and bastardize the sound. So, it's like Bob was a big influence on me to learn. And coincidently we play really similarly. And it wasn't even intentional.

Ken: Bob is one of the most underrated bass players in general.

Daryl: If it wasn't for him living so far way I think he would still be playing with us.

CM: So you guys are still close considering he's not in the band anymore.

Daryl: Yup.

CM: Ken, when I interviewed you back in June of last year I asked if any of the old albums were gonna be reissued at some point in the future. And at that time you said there were no plans, but that you would be willing if a label was interested in doing so. Has there been any talks with any labels about reissuing those classic albums?

Ken: I haven't pursued it. Although The Feds (Ken's post Bollweelis break-up band) record is out there on iTunes because of whoever took over the distribution of Dr. Strange Records, and before hand, it's still out there. They had The Bollweevils stuff too. But I kinda got that back. But The Feds stuff, I haven't done that yet. That's actually, no offense to these guys, that's actually my favorite band I ever recorded with on record. As long as it's out there I'm happy with it. As far as the other stuff, nothing yet.

CM: If a label came up to you guys would you be interested in reissuing the old records?

Ken: Yeah, the master plan would be to find somebody willing to put out some of the new stuff and then tie that in with the old stuff. When it comes to a label, we're pretty loyal and we wanna work for a label. We just don't want someone to put out our record. We want to kick our ass and bust our ass for our label. And it's hard. And I think that kinda puts some people off sometimes in this weird sort of way. They're just sort of used to putting the record out. That's how it was when we were starting out. So, if that happens, expect it all to follow along. And part of the reason for that is down to what we can do show wise, and we didn't think it was fair. We started off on Riot Fest Records. And he was pretty excited about putting some stuff out. But if we couldn't do it, then it's probably not a good deal for him. So, we'll see what happens.

CM: Will we be hearing any more new material from the band this year? You guys have that one new song, but are there any songs in the vault that we can expect to hear at some point in the near future?

Ken: We have about an albums worth plus of songs.

CM: That were recorded recently?

Ken: No, they haven't been recorded yet. As soon as we play a few shows and get back out there I think that's the plan to record them and get them out there.

Daryl: We play news songs when we play live, which is the thing. So, the thing is we had songs we were working on before. But because of the distance between members before we just couldn't get it together. But now that we have kind of a cohesive team that can get it done, we do have songs in the works. Miguel's been working on songs too and bringing them to the table.

Ken: The funny thing about The Feds record is that two thirds of that record was supposed to be the next Bollweevils record. And that's kind of a shame that two thirds of that record was supposed to be the next Bollweevils record.

Daryl: I used to listen to that record and think "I could sing over that."

Ken: Uh, I'm not so sure of that. (Laughter) Maybe we should just do a whole Feds set one day and see how that goes. (Laughter)

Miguel: This will be the last Bollweevils show ever. (Laughter)

Daryl: We're just glad to be back and glad to be playing out again. It's a fucking blast.

CM: Well, I wanna thank you guys again for talking with Critical Mass. I really do appreciate it. And I'm glad to heave you guys back again.

Pete: Thank you.

Daryl: I seriously wanna thank you for interviewing us.

Ken: Thank you.

Miguel. Thanks.

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