If the five power-poppers in Thulium are considering giving their parents and relatives copies of their new disc, The Secret Club, now might be a good time to reconsider -- if only because no loving mother or father wants to hear his or her little boy all liquored up. That's exactly what's going to happen, however, on "21," which also happens to be track number 21 on the disc.
"It's a little drinking song," says guitarist Steve Nick as he attempts to recall the night Thulium laid the tune down. "The last of us had just turned 21 while we were recording it, and it's basically about a 25-minute-long medley of six or seven takes of the song. During the first track, we're pretty sober, and we just kind of let the tape run ... (while) we were all sitting around a coffee table drinking. By the last take, we're pretty much not very sober anymore."
Those were not the only kind of spirits that allegedly invaded Wheeler Audio during the three weeks that Thulium holed up there, Nick claims. "Brian (Chesen), our other guitarist, was having some problems getting the intro down to 'Math Problem,' the first track on the record, and we decided to try another guitar. We switched him to a Fender Strat, and it was like Jimi Hendrix came out in him. He just started bluesing it up, put on some sunglasses, we dimmed down the lights, and Jimi came into the house. From then on, Brian was playing like we'd never heard him play before," Nick says, also noting that it was probably time the man got a new guitar anyway. "The pickups were falling out of it and spiders were actually coming out of them. He had a spider's nest in there."
And though Nick is perfectly willing to give up the goods on these subjects, one thing he's keeping mum is just where the title The Secret Club came from. "I really can't say," he says, somewhat apologetically. "I've got to keep it on the down-low. It's kind of an inside joke that nobody would understand, and some people might be kind of offended by it."
With that warning, feel free to grill Thulium at Davey's Uptown on Thursday, Jan. 13, with Mi6 or at its official CD release party at The Bottleneck on Wednesday, Jan. 19, with Stir.
Conversely, Takedown's guitarist and frontman, Brett Stewart, is more than happy to share where the band got the name of its new disc, '62 Fashion. Apparently, he and his brother Chad, the bass player in the pop rock act, once had punk legend All for neighbors.
"Those guys used to live next door to us when we were here in Brookfield, Mo. That's where me and my brother went to high school. They saw a picture of my mom, she was Miss Brookfield 1962," Stewart recounts. "They were thinking about using it for a cover of one of their CDs, but they never did. So we ended up using it for the cover of ours. I think this would have been the first Interscope record they did. We were kind of brainstorming ideas, and my mom kind of whipped that one out. It's her on the cover in a swimsuit hanging out by the Brookfield pool, and it's from 1962. One of the songs is called 'Fashion,' so we just went with '62 Fashion."
These events took place before Takedown existed as a band -- a day that arrived when the musical Stewart siblings met up with future drummer Pat Brede two Octobers ago. "Chad met him at Mid-America Nazarene College in Olathe, and we got lucky coming across him," Stewart says. "'Midnight Hour,' which is the number-two song on there, it was the first song we ever came up with. Chad and Pat were jamming together one weekend -- it was the first time they'd ever been together and they just came up with it."
This and others can be heard during the CD release party for '62 Fashion alongside The Creature Comforts at The Hurricane on Saturday, Jan. 15.
"It doesn't seem like there are too many heavy bands around here," says Noise Carnival's frontman, Derek Neibarger, who says his band's seasoned members are more than happy to pick up the slack. "We're heavy like a kind of Alice In Chains heavy, Faith No More. It's kind of contemporary metal: very heavy but intelligent, melodic, and catchy, too."
It's ground that Neibarger began covering with some of the same people in the early '90s. "We were in a band called Trinity X -- me and the guitar player, Paul (Hagedorn), and our drummer, Steven (Orr) -- for about three years. (We) played all over this area. They've been in another band together since then called Larry, and eventually we wound up all back in the same band again."
Neibarger has shifted gears since we saw him last, fronting the local pop group Julia Surrendered. "That ended in April," he says. "That was a real change for me, really, because I was in a band called Two Car Family, back around 1990. It was kind of a punk, funk, everything-you-can-think-of kind of band, just really out there, kind of trashy. Then I got into the heavier stuff with Trinity X for a few years, and that's what I was really into. Julia Surrendered was kind of an experiment like, 'Okay, let's see what else I can do with my voice.' I had a good time, but it's nice to get back to something with a little more volume. I definitely like the heavier music, the more aggressive sound."
His once and current bandmates also took a similar detour after Trinity X. "They kind of, coincidentally, went the same route that I did, experimenting with more of a pop sound, a little heavier than what I did with Julia. They were kind of on a Green Day scale, but mostly everyone involved has been into the really heavy kind of music. I think it's that we all wanted to do that so bad, that's kind of what helped us get back together," he theorizes. "Mostly we wanted to do it for ourselves because we've all had the years of trying to get a contract. That's what Julia Surrendered was all about, trying to nail a contract, going to CMJ and all that. This is more about having fun and being as loud as we can."
Consider yourself warned and pick up some earplugs before heading out to The Waldo Bar on Saturday, Jan. 15, when Noise Carnival plays with The Zippo Moment.
The formerly instrumental band The Schaefdogs may have gotten its name because it was too poor to buy anything but Schaefer beer, but now that it's starting to get more shows, it should at least be able to afford the occasional Pabst Blue Ribbon. "The singer (Jason Massey) came in and it blew everything open. We've been playing like crazy for the past month or so. He got out of the military after the last Desert Storm scare in March of last year," says guitarist Chris Davis, starting at the end of a strange journey that found the trio expanded to a quartet. "Me and the drummer started doing a really weird instrumental thing with a different bass player and then he got other things going on, so we started doing this surf thing. We had known the bass player, Jacob (Tahlstrom), for a while but never asked him to play because he'd always been into the hardcore blues and punk stuff. We finally got him involved and played a couple of shows, and he brought in Junior (Thomason), the sax player. From there, we kind of twisted the surf into this weird swing-rockabilly thing."
And just because that whole swing revival may be over doesn't mean The Schaefdogs necessarily have anything to fear, because it's but one ingredient in the band's strange brew. "We're so far away from it now. I was really into it, not so much as to get the zoot suit and everything, I just liked the sound," Davis explains. "(Brian) Setzer had out Guitar Slinger, and I liked what he was doing. Then the Cherry Poppin' Daddies came out, and I was like, 'Uh oh, this is going down.' Then Setzer came back for a huge arena gig and I was, 'Guys, this is wrong. Swing should not be played in a big arena,' and that was it."
Despite liking the music, Davis isn't too sorry to watch the style exit the spotlight. "I'm kind of glad it's over. I was getting kind of tired of seeing it everywhere." The Schaefdogs, however, can be seen with Boot Hill on Saturday, Jan. 15, at The Replay Lounge, which at last check still serves frosty cans of Schaefer.
According to Ryan Ashmore, The Electrophonic Foundation's drummer, people tend to mention the same couple of things to him when the band leaves the stage. "There's two things that people that have seen the show always comment on: We always wear ties and nice pants and we've always got dancing girls dancing around in little Electrophonic Foundation T-shirts," he describes. "It's nice. Everyone that has seen us and asked us to book another show has always been like, 'Are you going to wear the ties and bring the girls?' Let's face it, it's a lot of fun. Who doesn't want to have dancing girls?"
The ties don't seem to present much of an obstacle in its mission of rock. "I play the drums, so I don't really have quite as much of a problem, but I couldn't imagine that playing a guitar would be too easy with the ties getting on your strings and stuff. But everybody seems to have a good time with it," he says, noting that vocalist-guitarist Scott Chaffin has found inspiration from an unlikely source. "Scott said John Lee Hooker once said, 'Throw those fancy chords away,' and we're all about throwing the fancy chords away. It's all about simplicity and the stage show."
So far The Electrophonic Foundation has found only a handful of occasions to present that show, having just recently started playing out after jumping the final hurdle in its path to the stage. "We finally got a bass player, embarrassingly enough," Ashmore says with a laugh. "We didn't really exist for a while. Seann (McAnally) kind of was in the band and then disappeared, and then it was just me and Scott. You can't really do a two-man thing, so we had to wait for Seann to reappear, because he has a tendency to kind of fade into the background before he'll come back into life."
Since McAnally's resurfacing, the Foundation has experienced much productivity by having started work on a disc. "We just finished half of it, and we're releasing it as just a sort of promotional thing. Coincidentally, it's called For Promotional Use Only," he says, unsure of what the final product might end up resembling. "We're not done recording it, and we're actually hoping to mix up some stuff we're doing here. We're debating whether or not we actually want to get into a studio to do a couple of tracks, and we're probably going to throw some live stuff on there. It's going to be some big mix."
Even if it's not done with the whole shebang, the band is wasting no time getting the first half out. "We've only got three copies of it now, but we're working on getting some more done, and we'll be giving them out at the show." A copy can be yours on Monday, Jan. 17, at Grand Emporium when The Electrophonic Foundation plays a Zone Monday with Q and Starsky.
Send local music information to Robert Bishop or J.J. Hensley at firstname.lastname@example.org.