The end of the world?
Apocalypse Hoboken stretches
the boundaries of punk
by Marty Behm (Metromix.com)
Say this much about punk
rock: nearly 30 years in, the
mere mention of its name still
elicits a strong reaction --
positive or negative -- from
virtually any music fan. For
local punk mainstays
Apocalypse Hoboken, it's a
reaction with mixed blessings,
one that can close just as
many doors as it opens.
"There are plenty of bands
that have started out punk and
went beyond it, (like) the
Replacements," says drummer
Andy Petersen, "and I would
think that they all went through the same thing. I
wouldn't imagine that they thought, 'Hey, let's be
really commercial.' It's just that they got better."
Which is exactly the case with Apocalypse
Hoboken, formed in the early '90s in the west
suburbs. Though hardly commercial, their latest
album, Microstars on Kung Fu Records, finds
the band stretching the boundaries of punk
through solid songwriting, sonic experimentation
and great production from Dave Trumfio of the
"People either completely fall in love with us or
completely hate us, and for that reason we don't fit
the mold of what's popular in quote, unquote
'punk rock' music," explains lead singer Todd
Paglialong. "All of our influences derive from
punk, but there's just so much more music out
there, and it's unfair to be labeled a punk rock
band. We've constantly tried to get past that, but
that's the scene we play to."
Along with guitarist Scott Thompson (sic) and bassist
Kurdt Dinse (guitarist Sean Seeling recently
dropped out to return to school), Paglialong and
Petersen enlisted Trumfio to produce Microstars
after the death of longtime friend and engineer Phil
"Meeting anyone for the first time can be strange,
but I'd say after the second day of recording with
him that everything was great," says Paglialong.
"He became excited about it."
Though Microstars still packs plenty of feral,
punk energy into its 14 songs, midtempo stretches
like "Make Them Die Slowly" and "Lonely
Socks," as well as a refreshingly un-ironic, though
crushing, take on Prince's "Darling Nikki" set it
apart from the three-chord crowd.
"We knew that we wanted to record this record
differently, but we really didn't write it differently,"
says Paglialong. "It was more of a case of the
different sounds that we got, the moods that were
If Apocalypse Hoboken's sound has gone through
mutations over the years, the punk scene has
changed as well.
"The people who comprise the punk scene now
are much younger," says Paglialong. "When I
started going to shows in the late '80s, it was older
people, and there was an element of danger to it.
It's very segregated now, there's different types of
punk music. You've got emo, ska, hardcore,
pop-punk, and there are different factions of kids
that go to these shows."
Could the addition of Microstars' opening track
"Little Fingers" to the new Q101 local compilation
expose the band to these new punk audiences?
And if so, what will the old fans think?
"I don't know," says Paglialong. "I would hope
that people who like us are smart enough to know
that we have been playing the same. I mean, if
more people end up liking us, that's great. That's
why we're in a band."
Marty Behm is a Chicago area freelance