DATE / TIME
04/28/2018 at 8:30 pm
Tickets on sale January 19th, 2018!
“Ever wonder what a traditional lounge singer would sound like backed up by a punk band? The Smoking Popes take that concept one step further: They’ve created a unique kind of music that some listeners are describing as ‘hyperkinetic tear-jerkers’.” Los Angeles Times
Bursting onto the Chicago punk scene in 1991, Smoking Popes built a relationship with their legion of fans by melding raw songs about bittersweet heartache with soaring melodies, power chords and infectious energy. From their early indie releases to their critically acclaimed major label albums, Smoking Popes developed a unique blend of buzzsaw guitars, caffeinated rhythms and heartfelt crooning vocals, combining the angst of punk with the smooth sophistication of Frank Sinatra, creating music both urgent and timeless, and influencing a generation of musicians in their wake.
These days, the Popes are tighter and more inspired than ever, having reunited with drummer Mike Felumlee, from the band’s seminal recordings of the ‘90s, to record their first new material with their original lineup since 1998, a powerful two-song single – “Simmer Down” and “Someday I’ll Smile Again” – now available on Asian Man Records. Lead singer Josh Caterer describes the reunion, “We’ve been fortunate to have some really great drummers over the years, they’ve all brought something unique to the band, but as soon as we started playing with Mike again, we felt like ‘This is how it’s supposed to be!’ Mike is the one who helped create our sound in the first place. Having him back in the band brings a lot of energy and excitement to what we’re doing.”
And that’s not their only reason to celebrate. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Destination Failure, the Popes’ pop-punk masterpiece, originally released on Capitol Records in 1997. To commemorate this milestone, they’re partnering with Side One Dummy Records to create a special 20th anniversary deluxe vinyl edition of the album, with select festival dates to support it. Caterer remarked, “It’s sort of hard to believe that Destination Failure is twenty years old! Listening back to the album, it doesn’t feel dated to me. I think there’s an immediacy to the music that still comes through. A lot of that has to do with Jerry Finn. He was such a brilliant producer. We were very lucky to work with him.”
The band is also hard at work writing and arranging new material for a full-length album to be released in early 2018. Look for some of those new songs to pop up in their live sets on the road this year. If their recent single is any indication, Smoking Popes are far from done making waves.
“Why are the Smoking Popes important? Because they’ve written your favorite song, whether you know it or not.” – Kyle Kinane, Comedian & Popes Fan
Bad Cop/Bad Cop
It’s been a hectic couple of years since Los Angeles punk quartet Bad Cop/Bad Cop dropped their debut full-length, Not Sorry. The band spent a huge chunk of the intervening time on the road, like most bands do—and they wound up discovering some ugly things about themselves, like most bands do. Only for Bad Cop/Bad Cop, it got very serious, very quickly. “We were on the Fat Wreck Chords 25th anniversary tour in 2015, and Stacey was partying really hard,” says co-vocalist Jennie Cotterill. “She ended up bottoming out on the tour, and we had to leave. It was not a good separation. We had to go home and drop off the tour and figure out if we were still a band, what are we going to do about Stacey… Thankfully, Fat helped send her to detox, and she came out of that as a completely new person with a totally different trajectory. Before that, she was demonically possessed. She was destroying everything around her.” Out of that experience came “Amputations,” one of the highlights on Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s explosive second album, Warriors. The song is a slower, bigger sing-along than anything else in the band’s growing catalog, and it’s about the only thing not at a breakneck pace on the record.
Many of the album’s most cathartic, aggressive moments come from the mind of co-vocalist Stacey Dee, who after going through the darkest time of her life has come out stronger than ever. Instead of focusing solely on her own issues, she was able to expand her horizons, writing songs as poignant as “Victoria” (about a friend’s child who committed suicide) and “Womanarchist” (in which Dee namedrops Revolutionary War heroine Nancy Morgan Hart and Joan of Arc while proclaiming she wants “to make the whole world feminist”). Dee explains much of her expanded worldview came in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, making Warriors one of the first punk albums written in the Trump era.
“The election made a real big impact on us,” Dee says. “We were really hurt and really sad. It felt like we needed to take a stand and say something. I had never really dug into anything super-serious about fairness, equality or justice in my songwriting before. When my bandmates and I got a chance to rebuild together following my fall, it was all about honesty, celebrating our differences and letting our power come together naturally.” The foursome began recording immediately following a successful tour with the Interrupters last fall, spending roughly six weeks between Hurley Studios and Maple Sound Studios with their longtime collaborator and producer Davey Warsop between December 2016 and February 2017, with Jason Livermore (Descendents, Lagwagon) responsible for mixing and mastering—and just like on Not Sorry, Fat Wreck Chords founder Fat Mike chimed in with plenty of ideas as well.
“When it comes to songwriting, I’m open to anyone offering ideas—I think that makes it cooler. I’m all about what sounds best. Mike had really great ideas—most of the time, I agreed with him,” Dee says with a laugh. That songwriting invitation extended within the band, too, as bassist Linh Le contributed two of Warriors’ finest moments, “I’m Done” and the title track. The former tackles the topic of gender-related microaggressions (“I felt instead of being passive-aggressive about it, I was just going to be aggressive,” Le says); the latter was written to pay homage to all who have devoted their lives to fight for equality and was inspired by the Trưng sisters, who led Vietnam’s rebellion against China nearly 2,000 years ago. Needless to say, there is more to Bad Cop/Bad Cop than your average punk band—and that’s how the women like it. “It is important to raise awareness,” Le says. “There are so many people we care about who feel stuck or afraid.”
“We tend to stick up for the underdog,” Dee concludes. “It hurts us when anyone is marginalized. I was so negative for most of my life. After changing my life, I have been trying to focus on strength, connectedness and positivity. I think this record is a good start.”