For many, New Year's Eve and rock 'n' roll are auld acquaintances whose bond should never be forgot.
Rock fans know that there's something extra special about ringing in the new year to the wail of a beloved band. And suburbanites have some good shows to choose from this year.
Two highlights are Soul Asylum's appearance at the Montrose Room in Rosemont and local heroes Lucky Boys Confusion, who will play a special show at Cubby Bear North in Lincolnshire. The Daily Herald spoke with the leaders of both bands as they prepare to say goodbye to 2012.
The 1980s music scene in Minneapolis has become almost mythic for discerning rock nerds. It was an energetic, creative and tight-knit scene that produced some legendary bands, including the Replacements and Husker Du.
Not to be forgotten is Soul Asylum. Like its aforementioned contemporaries, Soul Asylum helped lay the groundwork for the alternative revolution in the 1990s with a gritty guitar-based sound and witty, sometimes sarcastic lyrics.
“I still feel so much attachment to Minneapolis, even though I've been living in New Orleans for 14 years now,” Soul Asylum singer and primary songwriter Dave Pirner said during a recent phone interview. “I remember it being very supportive. And there was so much music! When you can't go outside six or seven months out of the year because of the cold, playing rock 'n' roll in a basement somewhere is a pretty good antidote.”
Soul Asylum is one of the few bands from that scene still making music. Its latest album, “Delayed Reaction” (429 Records), came out earlier this year.
But the band has changed. Bassist and founding member Karl Mueller died from cancer in 2005. Earlier this year, guitarist and founding member Dan Murphy left the band on good terms.
That means Pirner is the last remaining founding member. The current lineup includes Minneapolis drummer Michael Bland, guitarist Justin Sharbono and, when he's available, bassist Tommy Stinson, formerly of the Replacements and currently with Guns N' Roses. (Winston Roye also plays bass in the band.)
“When Dan left, I had some mixed-up feelings about whether this band should continue,” Pirner said. “But I've been lucky because I found some musicians who are so great. They've kind of rejuvenated me, in a way.”
Pirner said he looks forward to the upcoming New Year's Eve show in Rosemont, where he and his band will play tracks from “Delayed Reaction” — the album that has gotten Soul Asylum some of its strongest reviews since the band's wildly successful 1992 album, “Grave Dancers Union” — along with plenty of tracks from back in the day.
“Honestly, I love performing on stage now more than I ever have,” he said. “I credit Michael (Bland) with that. He's really helped me value performing more. It seems more special to me now.”
Lucky Boys Confusion
As was the case for millions of other suburban teenagers, Nirvana's 1991 album “Nevermind” changed Stubhy Pandav's life.
Pandav was going to high school in Downers Grove when the album hit. Up until then, he'd mostly listened to Indian music.
“Yeah, Nirvana changed everything,” he said. “Suddenly I'd entered this huge world full of amazing rock music. I never looked back.”
He formed Lucky Boys Confusion in the late 1990s with friends from nearby Naperville after their earlier bands fizzled out. Pandav's singing and the group's energetic, ska-flavored guitar rock quickly acquired a local following.
“Looking back, I'm really proud of what we did back then,” Pandav said. “We built something in the suburbs that really hasn't been repeated. We were kids from the same towns as our fans.”
The following didn't stay local. In the early part of the 2000s, Lucky Boys Confusion hit it big, getting signed by a major record label and touring all over the world.
In recent years, though, the band played together less frequently, as the members began devoting more attention to other musical projects. Then tragedy struck, when guitarist and founding member Joe Sell died earlier this year at the age of 33.
Pandav said the upcoming New Year's Eve show at the Cubby Bear North in Lincolnshire is designed to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the band.
“It's a nostalgic milestone for me,” he said. “Fifteen years is a long time, and the passing of Joe makes it even more meaningful. So I see this as a way to celebrate that and say thank you to the local fans who have supported us all along.”
Lucky Boys Confusion probably won't make new music together, Pandav said, but he hopes he and the rest of the group can get together for Chicago-area shows from time to time.
“We're all doing different things now, but it still feels great to play with those guys on stage. I'm not sure that will ever go away.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.