An oral history of Die Kreuzen, part 3
“‘You guys really meant a lot to me and I saw you and it was great.’ That’s the biggest compliment any band could ever ask for.”
- Fall in love with modern rock ’n’ roll: A conversation with Jonathan Richman
- Packard Brothers hit the road for “Hey, Pass Me A Beer II”
- Intergalactic, planetary: Inside “live-action graphic novel” The Intergalactic Nemesis
- The Hinterlands take Milwaukee back to days of vaudeville with The Circuit
- Milwaukee writer Tea Krulos unmasks the “real-life superhero” movement with Heroes In The Night
In the final installment of our history of Die Kreuzen, Kubinski and Brammer discuss having White Zombie and Sonic Youth open for them, and Saturday’s Lest We Forget reunion show. (Click here for part 1, and here for part 2.)
Keith Brammer: I think any band that’s been around for 11 years will tell you this: you reach certain plateaus. You get to one level, then you get to the next level and the next level. You want to keep moving up, and it really seemed like, from Century Days on, we were playing to the same-sized audiences. We were still getting a whole lot of press, but it was leveling off.
Dan Kubinski: We used to tour with White Zombie and they were always the opener. We used to tour with Sonic Youth and until the later years, until Daydream Nation came out, they were always our opener. It was just kind of weird to have all these people that were around us, our peers and whatever, and they were all stepping up into a different level than we were. We were watching people like Soundgarden, White Zombie, and everybody else taking off, and here we were stuck in this—I don’t even know what to call it—the dying hardcore scene. It’s not like we started a band and went around touring and suddenly got popular; we worked and worked and worked our asses off, recording or rehearsing or touring. It was blood, sweat, and tears, for real. After 12 years of all that, it was just “We’ve gone as far as we can go. This is it. We’re done.”
KB: You grow apart. We were on tour all the time, so you’re all crammed into one van, dealing with each other’s idiosyncrasies, and everybody’s got them, nobody’s flawless, everyone has their little quirks.
DK: It was depressing for me to even think about all the time, effort, and everything else that had gone into this band that I had been in since high school. It just seemed like it had been all for nothing and was a complete waste of time. We had gone and done what we wanted to do, and we had done it our way, and it’d been completely for nothing, just stupid. For years I didn’t even have Die Kreuzen CDs sitting on my shelf, no records out, no cassette tapes, no T-shirts; I didn’t want to hear about it, I didn’t want to know about it.
DK: Then these books start to come out and American Hardcore was put together, and I was asked to be in that, and there was a tribute CD that came out not too many years ago. I mean, Napalm Death wanted to be on it, and Mike Watt was calling up to get on it. It was eye opening. People know who Die Kreuzen is and that’s crazy. I don’t feel so much that it was a waste of time anymore. There are so many people who say that they loved all the different sounds that we produced, and that they could make a bad day a good day by putting on an old Die Kreuzen record. That makes it all worthwhile right there.
KB: I really cannot believe that people in this day and age still remember who we were, what we did, and still take the time to contact us. It’s really nice to have Mike Watt or Voivod or whoever say nice things, but it’s equally nice to have people out of the blue who will contact you and say, “Oh, you guys really meant a lot to me and I saw you and it was great.” You know, that’s the biggest compliment any band could ever ask for, 20 years down the line. It means a great deal.
We had been approached about reuniting before. Corey [Rusk] asked us to do the Touch And Go 25th anniversary show, but Brian, our guitar player, was too busy. I was kind of disappointed by that, because I thought it could have been really good. We’ve had a couple of other offers, but this one was something where I had been involved with the “Lest We Forget” Facebook page from the get go. They started it and I was one of the first people on there. So they asked and we said, “It’s not all about us, it’s a memorial for people that we know—far too many—that have passed away since the early days.” Plus it’s a benefit. We called Brian and said, “Look, is it all right if we ask Jay [Tiller, of Couch Flambeau] to play with us and he said, “Fine, as long as you do this and this,” and we were like, “Okay.”
DK: I was kind of nervous up until halfway through the first song at first rehearsal. I thought, “This sounds good. My voice doesn’t sound too bad. It’s going to take some work but I think we can do this.” Now I’m just at the point where I’m excited. I can’t wait; it’s going to be fun. Of course I wish our brother Brian was going to be there on guitar, but he’s busy, got a life outside of music. He’s also living in Austin, Texas so that makes it more difficult for him, but Jay Tiller, he’s the man. He’s actually played gigs with us before, so it’s not such a freaky thing for him to be sitting in on guitar for this.
KB: People seem very excited about it. I’m hoping we live up to everybody’s expectations. All we can do is the best we can. In rehearsal it’s sounding really good, but I can’t deny it’s a little nerve-racking.
DK: We’re going to do about a 40-minute set. Every album will be touched, some a little more than others. I can kind of say the first album might be the one that’s revisited the most because those songs are so short that we’ll have to play a couple of them. We don’t really want to say anything about what’s on the set list; we’d rather have people come and be surprised.