Jughead's Basement Podcast

Sunday, March 11, 2018



One of my favorite memories of the integrity Ben Weasel and I forged early on with Screeching Weasel was when we were invited to meet with the duo that ran the ill fated label, Walk Thru Fire Records. They were one of the few labels in Chicago that had any kind of exposure that was interested in putting out our type of music. When we showed up, they sat us down in their office, and began a sales pitch which cemented our distain for them. One of the guys was sitting behind the desk and he said, “You two are sitting here because we heard about your band from quite a few important people around the city.” (Which made us realize they hadn’t even listened to the record themselves.) The second guy walked in right then, as if on cue and said, “You guys got the buzz.” (Yes, he actually said that.) He held up our Self Titled first record that we self released with the help of Russ Forster. He then continued, “But this record cover has got to go.” Then the first guy chimed back in with. “It’s a small matter and one we think you should consider. We would like to buy the rights to re-release this record, and put you under contract for three more records. We are willing to offer you Professional Distribution." Then the second guy wrapped up the sales pitch by saying, "You should probably take this deal. It's the smart thing to do. So what do you think?” We instantly did not like these guys at all. No one was going to tell us what we "had" to do, or even "should" do. It was an OK cover for a punk album of the time, but we weren’t in love with it. My artist friend, Paul Russel, who drew the cover, would later create much better art for Screeching Weasel. But this artistic request and much of the other things they said that day just did not sit well with us. We were a young band, barely known by anybody, but we decided we would rather fade into obscurity than sign with these two assholes. Why should we trust two guys that we both instinctively hated? Many of the other Chicago bands had made the mistake of signing a contract with them and they eventually all lost their pants. But we didn’t sign, and we kept our pants. We actually got a big chuckle out of the whole incident, and walked out of their office secure in our decision, even though we didn't know what the future would hold.

Later that week I played Ben some music I had written and taped on a cassette player with my Dr. Rhythms Drum Machine, a guitar and a bass. He put words to the music, exactly as I had written it, and he called the song “Professional Distribution," based on our experience from that memorable day. We later recorded it with the band for our second album Boogada Boogada Boogada. It is far from a great song, but it holds some important ideas for me about how crucial it is to forge your own identity, to not fall for any form of peer pressure, and to see through the nonsense of offers of an elusive success from assholes who were put on the earth to rip off other people who actually possess creative talents. In a crowd of fellow punk bands who were signing their lives away, we did not. Ben and I worked about 5 jobs between the two of us and raised the money to record this second record on our own. We then joined forces with a man named Dave Best to create a label to put the record out. The record is still our biggest seller to this very day. And this record also introduced the world to Paul's Weasel Logo, now tattooed on hundreds upon hundreds of punk bodies. The first release of this record, Boogada Boogada Boogada, was on our label, Roadkill Records released in 1988. 30 years ago this year.

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