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
"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
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.