Friday, October 20, 7pm doors/8pm show, $15 advance/$18 day of show
After Dark Presents brings you:
From Naples, Florida
(originally scheduled for The Waiting Room)
Bursting onto the Chicago punk scene in 1991, Smoking Popes built a relationship with their legion of fans by melding raw songs about bittersweet heartache with soaring melodies, power chords and infectious energy. From their early indie releases to their critically acclaimed major label albums, Smoking Popes developed a unique blend of buzzsaw guitars, caffeinated rhythms and heartfelt crooning vocals, combining the angst of punk with the smooth sophistication of Frank Sinatra, creating music both urgent and timeless, and influencing a generation of musicians in their wake.
These days, the Popes are tighter and more inspired than ever, having reunited with drummer Mike Felumlee, from the band’s seminal recordings of the ‘90s, to record their first new material with their original lineup since 1998, a powerful two-song single – “Simmer Down” and “Someday I’ll Smile Again” – now available on Asian Man Records. Lead singer Josh Caterer describes the reunion, “We’ve been fortunate to have some really great drummers over the years, they’ve all brought something unique to the band, but as soon as we started playing with Mike again, we felt like ‘This is how it’s supposed to be!’ Mike is the one who helped create our sound in the first place. Having him back in the band brings a lot of energy and excitement to what we’re doing.”
And that’s not their only reason to celebrate. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Destination Failure, the Popes’ pop-punk masterpiece, originally released on Capitol Records in 1997. To commemorate this milestone, they’re partnering with Side One Dummy Records to create a special vinyl edition of the album, due out in early 2018. Caterer remarked, “It’s sort of hard to believe that Destination Failure is twenty years old! Listening back to the album, it doesn’t feel dated to me. I think there’s an immediacy to the music that still comes through. A lot of that has to do with Jerry Finn. He was such a brilliant producer. We were very lucky to work with him.”
The band is also hard at work writing and arranging new material for a full-length album to be released in the fall of 2018. Look for some of those new songs to pop up in their live sets on the road this year. If their recent single is any indication, Smoking Popes are far from done making waves.
“Ever wonder what a traditional lounge singer would sound like backed up by a punk band? The Smoking Popes take that concept one step further: They’ve created a unique kind of music that some listeners are describing as ‘hyperkinetic tear-jerkers’.” – Los Angeles Times
Can’t Die is a clever blend of pop and gloom, the sort of record that will keep you dancing even when the lyrics cut deep. Chris Farren, who cites Coconut Records, Belle & Sebastian, and Magnetic Fields as his influences while recording, has crafted a record that has a true indie-pop sensibility and remains musically upbeat throughout.
Yet there is an undeniable sadness to certain tracks as well as a heavy focus on death and mortality, like on “Until I Can See The Light,” which was partly inspired by the death of Parks and Recreation writer Harris Wittels amongst other friends that have passed recently. It’s about “how weird it is that they’re gone,” explains Farren. “You don’t get to talk to them anymore.”
Chris Farren is one of those names that is always on the tip of your tongue. Though he’s played in popular bands Fake Problems and Antarctigo Vespucci — and he’s become well-known for his inventive merch, including his take on the classic The Smiths shirt — Farren is still working on breaking out in the large world of singer-songwriters. After experimenting and honing his solo work on a few memorable EPs and a Christmas album called Like A Gift From God or Whatever, Farren is ready to become known for his own unique approach, on his own terms.
At the end of the day, Can’t Die is a record that is wholly reflective of Chris Farren’s new sound. It’s not Fake Problems or Antarctigo Vespucci but instead it’s a sound that is entirely his: resonating indie-pop that captures all of the weird little anxieties of being in your twenties and realizing that you can’t control everything around you. Can’t Die adds some lightness to that, resulting in a record that makes listeners happy while also recognizing that it’s OK to be sad sometimes, too.
Event page: www.facebook.com/events/424396497960463