Thursday, June 23, 2011

From The Vaults: Interview With John Haggerty Of Pegboy/formerly of Naked Raygun

                                                                  Photo: Julie Loebbaka

Critical Mass: You've been a big part of the Chicago scene for more than 25 years. How has the scene changed since 1984?

John Haggerty: "Everything has changed, for better or worse. This city is almost unrecognizable compared to what it was 25 years ago. The scene was very small and everybody knew each other back then. It seems to be larger and more diverse now."

CM: Musicians cite you as being a huge influence on them. Who influenced you as a musician?

JH: "I am very flattered any time I am cited as a positive influence. That's what it is all about for me. When I first picked up the guitar, there was no such thing as punk rock so I gravitated towards blues and blues-derived rock. Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy to name a few."

CM: When Pegboy formed in 1990, it was almost like a super-group. You came from Naked Raygun, your brother Joe, from Bloodsport and the Effigies and Larry Damore and Steve Saylors from Bhopal Stiffs. What was the initial reaction from people when they came to see you play live? Were expectations high?

JH: "We were well received right from the beginning, fortunately. I think we were hoping that our prior experience would allow us to skip square one and go on to square two. In that sense, I think expectations were slightly elevated."

CM: The band's gone through a few bass players since forming. Do you feel you have a solid line up now with Skinny Mike Thompson in the band?

JH: "I think Skinny is in for the long haul, whatever that may bring."

CM: It's been a while since the band's last release. Is there any new material in the works?

JH: "Sorry, still no new material. We have been working on and off on new material for quite some time but haven't come up with anything great. We won't put out anything we think is less than great. There would be no point in doing that."

CM: You recently played with Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers in Nefarious Fat Cats. What was it like playing with Jake?

JH: "Playing with Jake Burns is a blast. We used to cover "Suspect Device" back in the Raygun days. Now when I play "Suspect Device," I look to my right and it's Jake Burns himself singing it! Quite a thrill for me. I look forward to playing with him for a long time to come."

CM: Looking back at your time in Naked Raygun, did you realize then how much of an influence the band had, not only in the Chicago scene, but in the punk scene in general?

JH: "We had no idea back then that we would make such an impact. We had high hopes of course, but basically, we were doing it to have fun and maybe sell a few records."

CM: People remember a lot of things about a Raygun show. From the crowd interaction to the Free Shit! What do you remember most about those shows? Any fond memories?

JH: "People seem to remember me chainsawing a raw turkey one Thanksgiving show at Metro. That was pretty funny. Bits of turkey flesh flying everywhere. Stage divers wiping out on blobs of animal fat. Those were the days, eh?"

CM: When you look back at all the music you've contributed to the Chicago punk scene, what are you most proud of?

JH: "I don't think there is any one thing that I can say I am most proud of. I am most happy just to be considered a part of the Chicago punk program."

CM: Is there a website where people can get in touch with Pegboy? Maybe find out about upcoming shows and possible releases?

JH: "Yeah, we have a Facebook and a MySpace page."

CM: John, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass. It's been an honor on my part. I hope we get to see more of you and Pegboy in the coming months! Thanks again.

JH: "Thank you, Chris. It was my pleasure."

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