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"FOR US WE HAVE TO DO IT" :: 4 WORKING PROFESSIONALS IN A MIDWEST PUNK BAND

By Tucker Gerrick

There are people in this world that don’t like to be told what to do, how to do “it,” what the right way is or just how wrong that wrong way may be. They are the ones that want to figure it all out on their own, whatever that may be. They’re not necessarily trouble makers, but when they were younger they might have easily and mistakenly been lumped in the unsavory “problem child” group. And while they grow and grow up, these people typically coalesce to form all kinds of smaller communities of like-minded and goal-sharing folks; you or I likely call them, “subcultures.” More often than not, these subcultures and those who make them up become the rebels, the trend setters and the inspiration for culture on the whole. It’s a constant appropriation of the different and the newly cool… Then it’s accepted by the greater population and the originators move on to the next.

However, by contrast, there remains a subsect of these smaller populations that goes about their own, truly, without even the a consideration of the above cycle. It could be a strong mix of cynicism, ignorance, or just general none-caring. Whatever this mental cocktail of perspectives is comprised of, it’s end result is punk rock and those who align themselves with it and its character. And even within this group, there remains outliers. I visited one such group of guys playing their own songs, their own way in a dingy Minneapolis basement away from any and all attention. As much as music is for sharing, it seems this group is more than content flying well beneath the radar of awareness. As an outsider looking in, these guys are the epitome of punk to me; But not for the sake of being so. A group comprised of a tenured professor, math teacher, auto mechanic and a motorcycle mechanic/father… all with numerable “real life” expectations and commitments, just doing their own thing because of some internal drive to do so.

The pictures that follow are from one of their regularly scheduled Friday night practices where the drinking precedes and proceeds the music playing and where everyone is a little happier by night’s end.

*Interview is with Angry Sober’s mildly reticent singer Tyler a few nights later.

Brian: Math teacher, bassist

TUCKER: So who is Angry Sober?
TYLER: When I was still in Complete Waste (another MPLS punk band) we started Angry Sober as a side project. We were playing in Complete Waste all the time with Twentyseven Shots, which Nick was in that band. Then they broke up and we weren’t hanging out with him anymore. So, we basically started another band that we could include Nick in.

So what’s everyone’s role?
I sing, Cavan plays guitar. Brian plays bass and Nick plays drums.

Do you guys play a lot of shows?
Not recently. We took 4 or 5 year hiatus cause I moved to Florida.

That’s a pretty long hiatus. Did everyone keep playing?
Yeah. Complete Waste continued with Cavan and Nick filled in my spot in that band. Cavan also had a crust band called Fuzzkill.

Empties. Actually everywhere.

Cracked cymbals.

You guys don’t seem to be taking it super seriously, you’re not aiming to make money off of music. What is it that you guys all do for jobs?
I’m a motorcycle mechanic in the Harley world. Nick is an auto mechanic. Brian is a high school math teacher and our guitar player is a doctor and a tenured professor of statistics at a certain university. So we all have very full time jobs.

And you’re a dad?
Yeah, I have a kid. I own a human.

So it sounds like you guys sound like you kinda operate, well, hopefully this doesn’t sound too cliche, but it seems like maybe you guys just do your own thing?
We’re in this thing right now… right now everything in Minneapolis and I’d say it’s spread pretty evenly across America, but the punk scene isn’t super huge in the terms of “hardcore punk” or “pop punk” or something like that. Everyone is trying to go more metally or more like crust. And that’s really prominent, and that’s great. But, we, ummm... like punk music. So when we started the band we told ourselves we should start a pop punk band, and this is what happened.

Arguably the opposite of that.
Yeah, I’m a huge pop punk fan. I grew up here, going to shows at the Foxfire.

That’s how a lot of people have come to all versions of punk I’d say, the ’90s pop punk was so accessible. It was like an entry point.
I still love it. But this is really funny, we were totally shooting the shit after band practice, hanging out. Talking about how we should start a more mellow version (of Complete Waste). And we all like drinking; I came up with the name Angry Sober. Kind of the fact that we’re all happier people when we’re mildly inebriated or worse.

…Everybody works more than your regular ass full time job.

Nick: drummer, auto mechanic

I’d say the floor is 99% Black Label cans. There’s an occasional misfit in there though.

There’s never some goal or some shit. We just want to get it done and then play the music.

Cavan: guitarist, professor.

Everyone is accountable and productive is what you’re saying? The photos from the visit to your practice space will defintely include somewhere in the vicinity of 500-600 Black Label cans. I assumed there would be spray paint on the walls and some broken stuff, but damn...
That’s clean! When I put the mixer down there I cleaned out like 4 trash bags with cans just to get the mixer in the corner. It’s not big. Every practice space we’ve had has been like that.

Ugh, so much mold.
It’s not so bad. At least before the cigarette smoke covered it all up. Now everybody stopped smoking, well, Nick still smokes.

When I threw the wizard sticks party and tried to keep the wizard sticks for that art project I did, months later all this mold was growing out of all the cans. So bad. Just a 1/2 oz. of beer and you end up with 6 oz. of mold somehow. Hella spores.
You don’t know how much mold grows till you leave a bottle down there.

Catching up on the week prior.

“clean”

You mentioned mixer. Are you guys actively recording something? To sell? Or just for shits n’ giggles? Or to learn to record?
No. Everyone in the band, in various forms, has recorded. Complete Waste recorded a 7” and some stuff for different complitionas. Angry Sober, in 2008 recorded a 7” too. We also recorded a demo, but, well, it’s been so long since we’ve done anything so we’re going to record a cassette tape demo and hopefully a 7” in the spring. We want to do all the recording ourselves.

Recording time, production time, studio time... that stuff is expensive!
It’s expensive but the biggest bummer is going to a recording studio, and trying to find one to record us at night. They’re good studios, but it’s hard to get cheap time at night when there’s a good vibe. I don’t want to record at 10 in the morning. I feel like so many times I’ve recorded because the studio has some extra time here or there to fill. We have all the gear we possibly need ourselves (to do it).

And when do 4 working professionals have, use that term as loosely as you want, when do they have day time hours available? Oh wait, only on the weekends.
Really it just boils down to I’m sick and tired of recording in the morning. I’m not particularly raging at the world at 10 in the morning. I hate life, but I don’t have the angst to make a good record then. That’s exactly it. Every time we’ve always recorded, it’s always been super early. Or, the other thing too is you go into the studio, you give the guy an example of what you sound like or what you want to sound like, or something like that, a vibe.

Like, help us achieve THIS?
Yeah, but the next thing you know, the guy has like 15 different amps that he wants the guitar player to play out of. Or he wants to track everything separately. The shit we play is as simple as possible. The recording shouldn’t be complicated. It should be a one-take, do it, and move on.

Tyler: singer, motorcycle mechanic, father (left)

It’s a punk song. We’re putting it on a cassette...
Exactly. Even the 7″ releases; we’ve recorded at some decent studios, with really great people doing the recording. But if we’re putting it on a fuckin’ 7inch the recording doesn’t shine through plus it doesn’t need to. We don’t some need awesome shit.

Do you guys just want to put it out into the world because it’s something you feel like you have an urge to do? or you wanna sell it and hopefully that rolls into the next recording? Or is it, “fuck it,” let’s just record some shit?
Well, we’ve got some new songs. I mean, none of us have any delusion about making money. This music is so far removed from anything that would make money. We’re not like the fucking Descendents or something. We just want to make it, put it out there, send some people some tapes when the thing comes out and whatever.

You just do what you do.

Tyler and Cavan mid song.

But that’s not the end result is what you’re saying? You know, these days, people start skating to become pro. Or, I’m gonna start playing guitar to be in a band and put out a record. Kids think about this weirdo end result now as reality and what they’re striving for instead of just doing something they enjoy.
Yeah, like skateboarders, there’s 30 million hard core punk bands and like 30 million crust bands, we’re not doing anything that anyone else isn’t.

And why should anyone give a fuck about your band?
I mean, I think the music is great.

You know what I’m saying? In the sheer volume and numbers game? The bigger picture: Who are you guys? Who’s anyone? Who’s Katy Perry until someone who has the right resources and the right timing, going, “ok, good voice, great body parts, marketable...let’s go.” Body parts I guess?
“Body Parts,” that’s a good band name. That’s exactly it, we have no body parts anyone wants to see.

No record deal for you!!!
[laughing] There’s never some goal or some shit. We just want to get it done and then play the music.

Where bags upon bags of Black Label cans were. The space is far better utilized now with mixer in place.

Nick as a blur.

Do it cause it’s fun. Make it cause it’s fun?
I think we’re all on a direct path, like going to work, but not really. I think anyone in a band that goes to practice... it’s like a moment where you just play the songs, kinda go through the motions. But it’s also a good stress relief, I don’t know If I wanna call it that.

“Release” may be a by-product, but standing next to these guys in this small space and it seems to be far more important than Tyler cares to express.

Decorations as you enter.

Totally, but it is. It’s not what people set out to do, but again, you don’t set out to be famous and make records. You don’t set out to start playing an instrument for stress relief. But then you do it long enough, life get’s as big as it does and things happen and then you realize, “Oh, this is like my happy place.”
Oh yeah. For us, we have to do it. Like, when I moved to Florida for those years, I wasn’t playing in a band down there. It just drove me fucking nuts. I don’t necessarily think it’s the band specifically, but I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t playing. I was just festering. It’s good to have that way to release.

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