Interview from Jaded In Chicago #8
by Bill Denke

For the past ten or so years Apocalypse Hoboken has been a mainstay in the Chicago punk rock scene. Long praised by fans for their energy-filled live shows, Hoboken has somehow managed to filter that energy onto their new record, Microstars. This interview was conducted just before the release show for the Microstars album, which was sometime during the fall of 99. I spoke with their drummer Andy about various things and got the low-down on all the latest Apocalypse gossip. Thanks again to the kind people at Kung Fu for helping with this interview.

JIC: What in your opinion is different about the new MICROSTARS LP compared to other Apocalypse Hoboken albums?

Andy: It's pretty obvious to anyone who hears it that it's got all different sorts of instruments on it, like it's got keyboards, and the songs are a little calmer. Todd actually sings on a lot of the songs, as opposed to like screaming his head off. We just kind of made a conscious effort to work on our song writing and spend more time writing songs instead of just bashing things out, like three or four songs in a day. We just spent a lot more time on it compared to things we've done in the past. When we go out on the road and play we just wanted to have songs that we like a little more, we were getting bored with our old stuff.

JIC: Was anything extraordinarily unique or exciting about the recording process of this album? Have you ever worked with Dave Trumifo before or recorded at Kingsize Sound Labs?

Andy: Nope, we've always recorded with Phil Bonnet. With Phil we used to do everything on our own time and there was like an understanding about how we were going to do things, which was pretty much like a free-for-all. We'd just have a big party in the studio and record things until we were bored or tired. With Dave it was much more professional atmosphere; we were on the clock the whole time and he'd make us do like ten takes of one song. He would just say, "You're going to have to do it again, I know you can do it better." And we'd all be sitting there like, "What are you talking about, that was fine." He just kept pushing us to play things over and over again; that's part of the reason why it ended up sounding the way it does. He made sure that all our performances were good, as opposed to just adequate I guess.

JIC: Was it surprising when Phil passed away earlier this year, I mean I don't know the circumstances, but it wasn't expected...

Andy: It was totally unexpected.

JIC: That had to be hard for you guys.

Andy: I was with him the night before and then I got a call the next morning at work. I mean he was 38 or 39 years old, and he wasn't sick or anything. He had an aneurysm, so...he died completely unexpected.

JIC: That's too bad.

Andy: We just kind of like went numb for a while and then decided that we had to go find someone to record with. So we hooked up with Dave Trumfio because he's probably the strangest guy we could possibly do a record with. (Laughs). He wouldn't know anything about what we sound like or what we're supposed to sound like, so that's probably the reason our record sounds like it does, he just did it his way.

JIC: Are you looking forward to a wild release party with The Mushuganas playing and everything else that's going on?

Andy: Oh god...we've been planning for this show for about a month. We've got our own lighting guy; there's just a lot of stuff we're doing tonight that we've never done before because we've never had the responsibility or headlining a show at the Metro. We were always kind of looking forward to doing this, like having our own show here and getting paid enough where we can actually take all the money and put it back into the show. I don't know what's going to happen, exactly, but it's going to be totally cool. (Laughs).

JIC: Can you tell me about the problems Todd's been having with his voice over the past year or so, and is he all okay with that now?

Andy: He was having problems with his tonsils and it's like he's supposed to get his tonsils out; they used to take everyone's tonsils out like 20 years ago, but they just don't do it anymore. And there was a good reason for that...some people were getting infections, and Todd's one of those people how just gets sick all the time. We'd go out on the road for six weeks and he'd be fine, then we'd come home for three weeks and he'd get sick again. Then we'd be scheduled to go back out and he'd get sick and we'd have to cancel a week or whatever. We never knew what was going to happen or why it was happening, it wasn't like changes in the weather or anything; I think it's just dumb luck. We had to cancel some shows and it made us look really bad, but it's not like he plays bass and he could just get sick and no one would care. (Laughs). He gets sick and he can't do anything, it's unfortunate, but so far he's been healthy, all year.

JIC: Are there any plans to tour in support of the Microstars album?

Andy: We're going to go out to the west coast starting the day after Thanksgiving and we're going to be playing with Wrench Like Me and Armchair Martian. I guess those bands always tour together, they play together a lot, and we're just hooking up with them for about four weeks. We'll be home like two days before Christmas to play the annual Blue Meanies show at Metro on the 23rd.

JIC: Have you become friends with any of the other bands on Kung Fu Records like BigWig or anything?

Andy: I think we've met every band on the road except for the Ataris. We met long fellow and those guys are like the nicest. We went out with Assorted Jellybeans for like five weeks...I've known BigWig's singer Tom since like 95 and when they ended up on Kung Fu it just surprised the hell out of me.

JIC: So how come Sean left the band?

Andy: He's going back to school and has been trying on and off to become a CPA. He's got a time limit on when he needs to finish up his schooling to actually get certified. So he found that the best thing he cold do was take a job in accounting and they'd pay for his schooling; he'd be able to finish it up and everything would work out...for him. But he can't got on the road, he has to stay at his job, he can't mess around and miss an Monday or a Friday. Our record is coming out and we're making all these plans, and he just couldn't be a part of them so we had to do something.

JIC: So who's the new guy?

Andy: His name's Eric and he'll be playing with us tonight; he's been with us for about six weeks. I don't know what's going to happen with Sean, it's just one of those situations where you bring in a new guy and you can't just tell him that you only need him for eight months. I can't even comment because I don't know what'll happen; I know Sean wants to keep doing it, but for the next eight months he can't do anything.

JIC: Could you tell me a little bit about why you guys decided to release that album on Suburban Home Records with all your various old and out of print songs and everything...

Andy: We were getting all our old stuff back from Johann's Face because they weren't going to press our stuff anymore, and we owned all the tapes and everything. They would put out our records, but they never paid for us to record in the studio, so the tapes always belonged to us. We talked to Virgil from Suburban Home the last time we played Denver and he said he'd love to do the album-thing. He was really ambitious about getting the project done, which helped to give us the confidence to get it done quick. Some of the labels we've worked with in the past say they want to do something and they won't do it for like a year, but things really came together with this album.

At this point Andy and I agreed to continue the interview at a later time, due to the fact that he had to sound check for the show. Turns out we never met up later on that as unprofessional as that may seem, that's all for the Apocalypse interview.