The Midwest Beat’s 5 favorite Midwest rock 45s
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Over the past several years, The Midwest Beat has earned a reputation as “the record geek’s band.” That’s due largely to the mighty songwriting tug-of-war between Matt Joyce, Logan Kayne, and Kyle Denton. On the Beat’s upcoming effort, Gone Not Lost, the quartet works together to keep its sonic canoe from capsizing with plenty of focus and tight-knit songwriting, making a surprisingly cohesive record out of a situation that would bring infernal chaos to many other bands.
In anticipation of The Midwest Beat’s record release show at Linneman’s June 10, The A.V. Club seized an opportunity to chat with Joyce and Kayne about a few of their favorite Wisconsin rock 45s, the beauty of being inept, and just how much an “oompa”-style bassline can add to a song.
Robin And The Three Hoods, “I Wanna Do It”
Matt Joyce: One of my favorite Midwest rock singles. Bob Koch (The Low Czars) played that shit for me, and it’s great. It was done by East High School students, here in Madison. Logan, when did that come out? You know more about this shit. I just listen to it.
Logan Kayne: It was recorded at Cuca Records in Sauk City, I think.
MJ: It’s got a bitchin’ guitar solo; it’s kind of “oompa-y.” [Makes tuba noise.]
LK: It was originally written by The Strangeloves, these three music producers from New York. They were pre-bubblegum songwriters. They did the original version of “I Want Candy.”
MJ: I like that the “oompa” was added.
LK: Yes, there’s definitely an “oompa” influence.
The Triumphs, “Surfside Date”
LK: They were either from Sheboygan or Kenosha or Racine, or something. It sounds pre-’60s Invasion. It at least sounds like it. It’s just really dumb frat stuff. The bass player is walking. I don’t even know if he knows where he’s trying to go. It’s got an incredible sax solo, the singer is horrible, and the lyrics are dumb as hell. I think it’s from ’62 or ’63. It’s about taking ladies on a surfside date. “We’re gonna hang out on Lake Michigan and go to a cabin and see what happens,” with a nasty sax in the background. It’s just full of mistakes; it’s great. I heard the drummer [Bruce Cole] ended up teaching at Marquette or something. It’s beautifully inept.
Sticks N Stones, “Red Light”
MJ: Our label, Dusty Medical, put out an awesome record last summer by a band that is no longer together called Sticks N Stones. They put out a single called “Red Light.” It’s awesome. It features John E who plays in Sugar Stems and played in Catholic Boys. It’s a great snotty punk-pop song—not “pop-punk,” but rather “punk-pop.” It’s got really snotty vocals. Great melody, great band.
The Shivvers, “Teen Line”
LK: It’s power-pop, like power-pop. I like the keyboard outro, how it’s, like—what?—four and a half minutes long?
The A.V. Club: And it’s totally not inept.
LK: No, it’s the opposite of inept. They’ve got their shit together, and it’s catchy as fuck, too. The singer is phenomenal. Oh, man. Help me out, Matt. What do you like about The Shivvers?
MJ: Uh, that they have two “V”s in their name.
LK: Yeah, two “V”s are better than one.
AVC: You should just split the “W” in Midwest Beat into two “V”s.
LK: I’ve heard about people digging this single out of shops in Milwaukee pretty recently. Personally, I would have kept it, but collectors have been flipping that shit on eBay for hundreds of dollars.
The Haskels, “Taking The City By Storm”
LK: That’s got to be one of the best Wisconsin singles of all time. People used to find these for a couple bucks at Flipville in Milwaukee. The dude knew what he had, but he’d still sell it to people for as low as five bucks. There were dozens of punk bands in every city when The Haskels put this out, but “Taking The City By Storm” was so brutally good. The drummer is badass, and the same with the attitude; everything about it works. I think the main guy [Jerome “Presley Haskel” Brisch] died. At the time they were a three-piece, and they were one of the few punk bands that had two black guys in the band. I guess Bad Brains was around, but it was pretty rare in the punk scene when this record came out in 1980.