Apocalypse now for Hoboken?
from the March 13, 2000 edition of The Depaulia
by Fauzia Arain

Lead singer Paglialong dispels rumors concerning the band's alleged breakup.

On Saturday, 1,100 people witnessed the apparent implosion of one of Chicago's longest-standing punk rock institutions. Having withstood numerous changes in line-ups, Apocalypse Hoboken's steel staple status was in serious question last weekend at the Metro when lead singer Todd Paglialong, after playing a mere three songs of their headlining set, stormed off the stage leaving fans and band members slack-jawed.

"It was just an abortion. It was horrible. Regardless of who was right or wrong, I said that ‘You're watching Hoboken go down the toilet right now and you won't see us for a very long time,' and I dropped the mic and walked off the stage," Paglialong said.

Backstage at the Magnetic Curses compilation release show was everything one would expect an incredibly huge party. A little inebriation had never hurt the band's performance before, but as Paglialong explains, some band members didn't know their own limits that night.

"They had kegs back there and everyone was having a good time, but it just got out of control by the time we went up onstage. We've had shows where we've all been just completely wasted, and they've been great shows; this time, besides blacking out onstage, the guys couldn't play anything. I kept myself kind of straight, Andy (Petereson, drums) was alright, but the two guitarists kind of took a swing for the worst and drank so much they couldn't remember the songs and couldn't play. Their instruments became alien to them. It was embarrassing," Paglialong said, still seeming disappointed in the night's events.

What neither fans nor fellow band members knew was that Paglialong's frustrations were born of what he saw as the impending failure of the low-key plan he had devised to finally reel in the professional attention that has been long overdue for Hoboken.

"I had gotten a bunch of A & R people and label people to come see us, because we would kind of like to get signed. All of us have families, some have wives. We would like to be in a band and have it be a career," said Paglialong, who works in graphic design in Wicker Park. "[The other band members] really had no idea what was going on with the A & R people. I didn't want to tell them to freak ‘em out or make ‘em angry, I just wanted to play a good show."

Though the speculation regarding Hoboken's fate has leaned toward the dissolving of the band, Paglialong assures that fans have not seen the end of them yet.

"The band isn't breaking up. We don't know if we're gonna keep the same name, but Sean is gonna come back and play guitar with us. It will be myself, Andy, Sean and Kurdt (Dinse), the bass player," Paglialong said, in an effort to dispel the rumors that took flight at high velocity immediately after his abrupt departure from the stage last weekend.

A sigh of relief is indeed in order, having come dangerously close to losing one of the city's best live show offerings, but the setback for Hoboken couldn't have timed its appearance any more poorly. The band was just beginning to taste the first hints of recognition with the increased exposure of their new album.

Hoboken's studio sound has evolved steadily and progressively with each release. Their latest album, Microstars, released late last year on Kung Fu Records, is the manifestation of years of experience, learning and growth-all on their own terms.

"It wasn't so much a conscious effort to say we're going to write a record differently, but we did go into writing it knowing that we were going to challenge ourselves as much as we could. Therefore, the end product was different," Paglialong explained.

While it is debatable whether different is invariably better, Microstars has garnered more attention for the band than any previous efforts. Currently, the band's single "Little Fingers" is in the rotation at Q101, having won the coveted space after being voted onto the station's Local 101-Volume 2 compilation (release date: March 7) by unwitting station employees.

"None of the staff at Q101 knew who the bands were, but James (Van Osdol) said that if they would have known who we were, they wouldn't have voted for us, because they don't feel we belong on that radio station. There were people that were against us, when they found out who we were, to even put our song on the radio. But they had already picked it. What's done is done," Paglialong said with a smirk of successful satisfaction as he set a new cigarette alight with the shrinking end of his last one.

Along with the reparations that Hoboken must undergo, including tying up loose financial ends shared with previous band members prior to their departures for other musical projects, Paglialong realizes that without proper representation and promotion, they could fall back into the vast shadows that harbor countless talent-swollen Chicago bands.

"We need to get a manager. If we could get on an independent label that would push us as hard as we feel we need to be pushed. There's not enough effort, time or money that can be put on just us. [Kung Fu] has other bands and a budget. We need someone that's 100 percent dedicated to working with just us," Paglialong said.

"A major label may not be the best thing, but we've always been about putting out as much music as we can and making sure enough people hear it. That hasn't happened yet."

After witnessing Hoboken's front man in action at the Metro on Feb. 22, less than a week before the fateful Saturday show, it is difficult to fathom the lack of interest in this band from major labels thus far. Paglialong's enigmatic and powerful stage persona and his disturbingly magnetic presence won the noticeably young audience over with twisted irony.

The crowd, most of whom were there to see headlining band Lucky Boys Confusion, cheered with brows furrowed in intensity as Paglialong dished out a rather heaping serving of tough love.

"I've just recently stepped up to the role of being the front man, of being able to take charge, and I've never felt comfortable with that before. This past year I've just enjoyed it. It's great. I love doing it," he concluded matter-of-factly, brushing ashes to the floor from the table for lack of an ashtray.

Paglialong's blue eyes looked tired and worn from recent trials, as he fights off ailments. But there remains a sparkle not far beneath that stems from his obvious conviction to and lust for his craft.

"It's been a strange couple of days," Paglialong said, but Hoboken seems to have inherent phoenix-like tendencies, reinforced by the release of Microstrars and Paglialong's newfound comfort in the limelight, and will no doubt emerge from these flames of disarray intact and hungry for success. Consider this a warning.