Pearls of Wisdom From Rock Star Club
By
Vincent Francone
10/29/2002 2:02:40 PM

"There’s something about a beat…it’s subliminal…something that just makes you move or bob your head. It’s just so goddamn depressing to see a bunch of people with their arms folded"

Whatever you are listening to right now, it is not as good as Rock Star Club. A bold statement? Perhaps, but one listen to America Needs Rock Star Club or The Entertainer and you will be hooked. God knows I’ve been possessed by this band and their music. It’s a cult and I advise everyone to join. Perhaps it is because they possess the most honest brand of rock music I’ve heard in a long time, completely free from pretension. I consider myself lucky to have heard them and advise everyone to check them out. I recently met with the band and talked to them about all things non-musical, and a little about the business, hype, and what would happen if they suddenly became rock stars. Here are some pearls of wisdom from Rock Star Club:




On Indie Rock and Hype


NT: I’ve been reading a lot about the Strokes. I know Chuck’s written about them. I can’t stand them personally.


Eli: They’re a construct, aren’t they?


Chuck: It’s this big hype band.


NT: Yeah, they try to sound like Lou Reed.


Eli: Well first of all, it’s not that hard to sound like the Velvet Underground. They inspired millions of young indie rockers, and that’s one of the many reasons that indie rock sucks. Are the Strokes cute?


NT: I guess.


Chuck: It’s fucking horrible, it’s crap. First of all, the Velvet Underground is one of the most overrated bands ever. They’re not that good. But I read all the stuff on the Strokes, all the hype…no one can live up to all that hype.


Eli: That’s strike one. That’s putting pressure on them. They were probably better before that.


Chuck: They just got six million dollars, what do they care? They sold out (Chicago club) the Metro before the album came out. It was all hype and now the record will sell about 22 copies or whatever and it’ll be done.


NT: Well the kids like them, they say they’re the saviors of rock and roll.


Eli: Yeah but how old are they? They probably don’t have any sense of history.


Chuck: There isn’t much rock in their rock and roll.


NT: It’s kind of just posturing on stage.


Eli: Speaking of which, wait till we go on.


On dance beats and selling out


Eli: We played a frat party and the one song where there’s kind of a groove for a few minutes, that’s the only time these girls actually started to dance.


Paul: There’s something about a beat…it’s subliminal…something that just makes you move or bob your head. It’s just so goddamn depressing to see a bunch of people with their arms folded.


Chuck: There’s no way in hell you can dance to us.


Eli: Yeah, but even after the show we did at a frat party, these guys came up to us and said, "wow, you guys are pretty cool."


Chuck: That’s what happened when you don’t know a band, you don’t clap.


Eli: Yeah, but when a band serves you a ball that you can hit out of the park and you say, "oh, I know what’s going to happen next" then you can get into it. But when we kind of speed up for no reason or stop the song after a minute and a half just when it’s getting going…half of that is because we can’t think of anything else for this part, and it sounds cool, so this part’s done, but the other part of it is because we want people to be like, "wow, that’s a different thing." Or we want it to sound like the theme for some movie where it plays for a minute and then stops.


NT: Which is kind of how the instrumental, "Industrial Barretta" is.


Eli: That was a radio show theme…


Paul: A jingle for a sports talk show.


Chuck: They said "make a jingle," so we did…see, I’ve been trying to sell out for years. I’m convinced that I know what’s hip. I’m just ahead of people…they don’t know it yet.


Eli: Why don’t you let us know then?


Paul: Before we move on I want to say something else about that dance thing we we’re talking about…I think our songs are goddamn awesome. From the moment you put the CD on in your car or at your house…it’s fucking awesome.


Chuck: Especially the ones you wrote.


Paul: Damn right. America Needs Rock Star Club is in my top ten, maybe in my top five. I love that goddamn record. It took me about five years to really feel that way about it. but I think we have that going for us. And, from a listener’s standpoint, if you have the record and you come out to the show, you know that songs, but even if you don’t…you see people start to move sometimes and it’s like, "shit, if I’m moving, I must like it."


NT: You guys are working on another independent release?


Paul: We’re about half way done. We’ve got about eight or nine songs that I think we could put out. I wanted to just take the time, spend the money, and have an album that I didn’t have to make any apologies for. And then say, "this album is fucking awesome," so when somebody says, "yeah, well, it’s pretty good…" then I could go, "Yeah, well go fuck yourself." 'Cause The Entertainer we did pretty quick…for free at this place where Justin used to work. A jingle studio, and we snuck in there and did it.




On being the Greatest Rock and Roll and in the world


Paul: One thing I want to convey in this interview is that I think we’re fucking awesome.


NT: So how does it feel to be in the greatest rock band in the world?


Eli: How do you think it feels?


Chuck and Paul: It feels fucking awesome.


Paul: This band is awesome, the guys are awesome, everything is taken care of…I’m a goddamn musical genius. (Laughs) I’m trying to cop this attitude…Eli used to play in this band and the bass player would not shut up. He said, "Dude, you gotta come see us play, we’re awesome." And we were always self-deprecating in our first band, the Young Lords, but we meet this guy and he says, "Man I’m playing with these guys and we’re all cats, we play jams, man it’s awesome. The drummer’s awesome! Keyboard player, awesome! Hell, I’m probably the worst guy…naw, I’m awesome too!" And I said, you know what, fuck it. I’m stealing that.


Chuck: I think I’ve said "we’re great" to a lot of people in the past though.


Eli: I can’t outgrow the self-deprecation.


Chuck: What other questions do you have? This interview’s going to be over and we didn’t say anything.


NT: Well, we got an interview with the drummer for System of a Down and I just stole all those questions.


Eli: They’re great!


NT: Okay, what’s it like to see your front man’s naked ass while you play.


Eli: I’ve seen Chuck’s bare ass a lot.


Paul: Didn’t we come close to playing with them.


Eli: They’ve got a cool start-stop thing.


Paul: I’m convinced they were going to put us with them ‘cause we flash devil signs on stage and everybody thinks we’re a joke band.


Eli: Half the schtick is your idea.


Paul: We don’t even do any schtick anymore.


Chuck: ‘Cause we can actually play the songs. We used to do all that to fill up time.


Eli: We were significantly drunker back then.


Paul: I think our schtick that ruined any chance we had of signing with a major label was in St. Louis. There was a music festival and we had a buzz going.


Chuck: We didn’t know how many people were there…it was so dark.


Eli: And it was a shitty little club.


NT: What was the name of that place?


Eli: Dichotomy?


Chuck: We were loaded.


Eli: I don’t know if they have a stage now, but then we were kind of pushed back into one section and it sounded like ass.


Paul: So after blowing notes and bad jokes and everything, me and Chuck just started making out. I slipped him the tongue too.


Chuck: I was tasting Paul’s little weasly tongue.


Paul: By that point I was so loaded it didn’t even matter…I just said, "Come here, big fella." Actually all of the pictures of us on the inside cover of America Needs Rock Star Club are from that show.


Chuck: We ruined our career, but we had a good time. St. Louis was a great town.


Eli: We want to get back there.


Chuck: You get done playing and you go gamble. And the strip clubs are open to six a.m.


NT: I’ve never seen so many bowling alleys in one town.



On major labels


NT: You guys get played on (Chicago radio station) WXRT a lot. How does Rock Star Club compare to the rest of the radio?


Chuck: We don’t fit in at all. The only reason we get played is because (DJ) Richard Milne likes our music. But we don’t sound like anything else on XRT. They play us and it’s great, but compared to the rest of it we sound like death metal.


NT: Say you got the big record deal tomorrow, would that change things?


Paul: Yeah, I wouldn’t have to go to work.


NT: Yeah, but when you put out your own stuff you’ve got a certain amount of freedom.


Paul: The deal seems so far out of reach I don’t think about it.


Eli: It’s kind of the chicken and the egg.


Paul: I don’t think they’re going to be able to mold us.


Chuck: This is what would happen. Right now we get pretty good shows. We don’t do much work to get them…we just get them ‘cause we’re on the radio a little bit. We put out our own records, we do what we want and we’re having a good time. If we signed to a major label it would be great for a year. We get paid to tour and that would be fun, touring with my best friends. But then they’d own our name and the band would be done. It’s happened to four other bands I know. They’re good guys and have a good band, and they get signed and it’s over. Once they own you they own you. Are you willing to take that chance to give up everything you love? Getting signed is one in a million and making it from there is one in a million.


Eli: You gotta please the stock holders. Once you get signed you gotta be on the charts.


Chuck: One band that we knew that was playing when we started and made it was Local H.

Eli: And Local H is back to playing (smaller club) The Double Door, which is cool because they could sell it out any time. But those guys got sick of doing the shit they were doing. Their new song doesn’t sound like their old stuff.


Chuck: It’d be great if there was a label that would promote us and give us money to make records we like. The thing is, no label is going to do that. The only way I would sign with a major label is if they gave us six million dollars. Because that would be enough money to get by for a couple of years. If they give you a hundred thousand…it’s your funeral, you can’t pay your bills on that.


Eli: Even two hundred thousand. You could blow through that money pretty quickly. I mean, split that four ways.


NT: Anything else for the record?


Eli. Sign us.


Chuck: I’d like to say that I wish more people would take chances on something a little different, ‘cause we are different. We’re something you have to listen to really get…I can’t believe I’m saying that ‘cause I probably wouldn’t listen to us.


Paul: If you buy the record, you can’t lose. It’s awesome. Come to the show, the show’s kick ass. Take a chance.


NT: Tell the readers what they can expect from a Rock Star Club show or CD.


Chuck: Sex.


Eli: Drugs.


Paul: Okay, I’ll say Rock and roll.


Eli: I don’t know, we’re not sure. Tell them to come out and make up their own minds. I promise I’ll never tap my way through a show. I’m dead at the end of every show, so they can come out and see me sweat.


Paul: What can they expect from the record? Good rock and roll. All the songs are about the band and how I’m pissed that we’re not big stars. Or they’re about living in Chicago. The late night burrito…how I’m turning into a yuppie. We got a song we’re working on called "Billy Corrigan’s poodle," more again about being pissed at not being a big rock star. The songs are about us or about girls. A lot of the songs are whiny ass songs. But they sound good live.


****


That they do. So go to www.rockstarclub.com and join the cult. Worship at their altar. Buy their CDs and evolve.

 

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