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In mid-April Chicago will witness two home grown releases from bands that matter. Plenty of other bands have released independent singles, but often the reasons for such releases were that of a money making operation, or yet another bid for rock stardom. (Or "rockist," a phrase that seems to be in excessive vogue in Britain right know, meaning the stereotypical regeneration of rock cliches' ala star posing, formula forced song structures, and falling for the overall rock and roll myths that seem preeminent in most of today's groups). The difference in Strike Under and Da!'s releases, is that they are the end result in the artists' desire to see fruitation of their vision. Neither of these groups feel the need to compromise to outside influences, since the main purpose of their efforts are the works themselves. This is also shown in their live shows. Both groups do not feel the need to have a accessible dance orientated show, that sells the barkeep's drinks. Other than that, Strike Under and Da! share little in common, except that they both use the same studio practice space (alternating rehearsal nights) and help each other out in the mandatory roadie chores.
Da!'s recording took place at Acme Studios on Southport (Chicago). A cosy, yet professional outfit who seem to work with Da! effortlessly. The record will becoming out on George Kapoulas' Autumn Records. The recordings took place in the wee hours of the mornings since that is when recording time is the cheapest. Mr. Kapoulas, it now seems, will be releasing the Live at Oz album, as well.
Da!, though a close knit group, (all have lived with one another at one time) are definetely a collection of indivduals. Their own musical tastes run a spectrum that is incredibly wide. And the only way that they are able to fuse these different personalities together is through constant playing with each other, and a willingness to allow an open dialogue. Listening to the group on stage or in the recording studio one is struck with the fact that they are definetely a guitar orientated band. Dawn, the drummer, once went so far as to describe her drumming in terms of a guitar riff. Add this to the fact that Lorna's bass playing goes well beyond serving as a backbeat, and you have loosened up the rhythm section to a large degree. The two guitar players, Dave and Gaylene, work constantly on the particular sounds they wish to achieve--and its almost humorous to listen to them mimicing the sounds they are striving for with their mouths. All the band members strive for a sound, a sound that they mold to a rhythm and a melody. Dark Rooms, the a-side, is a dirge-like anthem whose slower pace leaves room for sounds to climax and fade. And this serves for perfect fodder for their excellently done video that will accompany their single. The song is about the demons that attack us at night. And the music's contrast of sparseness and congestion almost bring forth a nausea and dizzyness that one can only feel in the dark night. The daylight scares such strong sensations out of our system, if only because of the strength of a omniprescent reality that exist under the sun. Lorna's hallowed voice brings further reinforcement to the bands nightmarish vision. Da!'s Dark Rooms is not for the faint at heart.
The B-side of the single is White Castles. A funky song about Urban renewal that bridges the likes of the Gang of Four and the Bush Tetras. It also includes the wonderful line, "Who has better luck with their wardrobe." The pace of White Castles is practically epilectic compared to Dark Rooms. It takes more than a few listens to hear all that is going on, From Gaylene's voice over to Dave's incessant chanting, "Castles, Castles...Castles, Castles" to Dawn's elctro-shock drum rolls. On top of all this is a bluesier-than-usual Lorna belts out her complaints concerning these emotionless slabs of concrete that seem to spring up like weeds. The single is well worth seeking out. You may well be suprised at what Chicago is capable of producing.
If Da! are a elaborate mind game of sounds and vibrant aural interfaces, then Strike Under are a emotive punch in the gut. The band at their better moments can cut open your body and slip frozen steel into your spinal cord. My personal favorite song they do is called Elephant's Graveyard. Now that Britain's Boomtown Rats stole the title and the Positive Noise stole the riff, perhaps those limeys are ready for the real thing. The song is evidence of what power and passion they are capable of. Even if at this point they aren't aware of it yet. When Steve sings, "We can all sit and watch with our eyes closed," he is talking about you, me, themselves, as well as the hundred of others. Tim Powell's production has given the band a biting edge that that only adds danger to the pulsating hack-saw feel the band already posses. The five song EP is slated to come out in April, and will be the first release of Wax Trax records. It will include a song called Saturday Night Confusion, where Chris' riff plays perfect counterpoint to Pierre's bass. In the middle of the song Bob and Steve pull out to demostrate the simple beauty of this nasty sound. Bob's drumming keeps the song ignited, while Steve strangles and spits the words out with what can only be honest venom.
Wanting to know more about the band I requested a interview. The result was the most active interview since Terry Nelson's Gang of Four interview. Whether the intra-band bickering was real or for my benefit, it surely showed me that not one of the Strike Under members are afraid to speak their piece, even if they have to fight for it. I have nothing else to add but that April is going to be a good month for record releases, I know of two that are going to come out that you'll love.
[OBIK: Strike Under was Steve Bjorklund singing and playing guitar, Chris Bjorklund (his brother) on guitar, Pierre Kezdy (brother of John Kezdy) on bass and Bob Furem, also a member of Da!, on drums.]
CR: Why did you join the band, Bob?
Steve: Because he heard we had big dicks.
Bob: And I almost quit when I found out it wasn't true.
Chris: We are going to have to set up the drum rolls.
Bob: No, they were the only people I got involved with who weren't boring.
Steve: (Sarcastically) Bob is good, is really good.
CR: The name Strike Under...
Chris: Doesn't come from anywhere so don't ask. No, we kicked around alot of names and we had this big list and shit...
Pierre: It was in a Bowling Book--and it said Strike Under.
Bob: It was evervbodies second favorite name.
Steve: I wanted a good name, but we had to settle for that.
Chris: We like to make people think.
All: Make People Think, Make People Think (a capella)
CR: How did vou come to decide to put out the 12" EP?
Steve: It was Jim Nash's idea.
Steve: No, here's how it was...
Pierre: Tell us how it was.
Steve: OK, I'm going to tell you how it was. We were going to go into a studio anyway; and Jim Nash said he would put it out.
Chris: One thing we didn't want to do was to start any label.
Steve: That's it, use your authoritative voice.
Chris: All these shitty groups who start up their own labels, and who the fuck cares.
CR: Are you pleased with your final mix of the EP?
Chris: Yeah, it's fucking great.
Steve: Yeah the music is great.
Pierre: We are going to have to give credit to Tim Powell and Metro Mobile for doing a superb job.
Steve: The man himself.
Chris: Tim the enchanter.
Pierre: If it wasn't for him we would probably be without him.
CR: Do you guys get along with each other?
All: No! (in unison)
Chris: Steve doesn't get along with Bob, and he doesn't get along with me. And Pierre really hates Steve. And with any group of people we...
Steve: We all think everybody else is...
Chris: Shut up for a second. With any group of people there are going to be personality clashes.
Bob: But ours are worse.
Chris: OK, but if you don't have any, you're in real trouble. If you get along too well then you become shit.
Steve: You know what pisses me of is that Bob is real trendy. He is the kind of guy who would shave off all of his hair for shock value (Chris is the one with shaved hair-ed.) and when he started to wear bandannas all over his body (Steve wears the bandannas-ed.)...
CR: The EP comes out in Mid-April; what do you plan to do then? Hit the road?
Pierre: We got a big road trip to Milwaukee and Waukegan and then down to Champaign...
Steve: No, we're going to Hoffmann Estates. (Laughter)
Chris: Don't forget Oak Park.
Pierre: We are going to fight Steve Dahl in his own territory.
CR: What do vou plan for...
Chris: World Domination.
Steve: Shut up, it's my turn to talk. After the record comes out it would be a good idea to tour around.
Bob: How? We're broke!
Chris: Yeah, send money out there.
Pierre: We finished this whole record in about a half an hour, don't you know.
Steve: And the next one is going to take even longer.
Bob: It took ten hours to...
Steve: Bob, don't be so honest.
Bob: and about 5 hours to mix.
CR: You worked well with Tim, right?
Pierre: Tim is the best thing that has happenned to this group.
Chris: Tim is actually on the record.
Pierre: If you listen real close you can hear Tim's voice on the cowboy section.
CR: Do you ever plan to go to New York?
Pierre: Oh god, hope not.
Steve: Listen, about New York, they are all trendy as shit. They thought punk was an abberration, that it would never last. New York has got no market for good music, except funk, which they are going to be through with in the next year... If we go anywhere we'll go to LA.
Pierre: Or Toronto.
Bob: Or Vancover.
CR: Influences, you obviously are influenced by Crass.
Steve: Crass is real fucking specific. But we don't appropriate any of that specific sound, we could, but we don't. (Bob Laughs) Shut up. Bob's tripping tonight.
Chris: You sit down and you write a song, and it comes out of your own head; so it is from all over.
Steve: Crass are an inspiration, that's all you can say.
Pierre: As much as any other band.
CR: How about those reggae-type songs.
Chris: Steve and Bob, they listen to reggae the most--but we all make the songs happen.
Pierre: We all understand reggae and apply it as such.
CR: How do you feel after a good gig?
Chris: It's never consistant. Two guys will say "What a great gig," and the other two will say "oh, we really sucked."
Pierre: I bet if we tried right now to pick out a good gig we couldn't agree on one. It depends on what you're asking, if a gig is good cause of the audience, or the atmosphere, or our particular way we played, it can all be different. The best ones are the ones with free achohol.
Sometimes we have the right energy, or other times we play tight.
It's not hard to stand UD and just play your instruments. Something else has got to go into it.
CR: How does Chicago stand as far as a city that encourages new music?
Steve: Chicago is great, all we gotta do is punch it till it goes down their throats.
Pierre: We don't have to punch it down their throats. It's there, and if they want it they can come and see us.
Steve: This summer everybody is going to see it. It's going to be a bunch of people who are going to grab onto something that makes sense. There are going to be bands around that make sense. Us, Effigies, Naked Raygun and maybe even Silver Abuse, and Subverts...and definetely Da!, that's another side to it. Da! are a thinking people's band. We are just going to have get through the next couple of months and there is going to be a wider audience, and a wider bunch of people who are going to want to listen.
Da - Time Will Be Kind advertisement from the Coolest Retard 20
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