Photo credit Christopher Dilts, christopherdilts.com
The Streeters, finally coming back out from their recording binge and much needed winter hibernation, are playing Quenchers this Wednesday April 22nd. I interviewed Chris Stelloh and Dan Stone of back in December a few days before they played at Subterranean, opening for Rulet. They invited me by their apartment with apologies for the lack of whiskey and offered up some stove brewed coffee instead. It was a cold and miserable night, almost as nasty as this hail and snow on the forecast these next two days.
I had no idea really what to expect from an interview with The Streeters. Stelloh I've known for a good while from the neighborhood. Most folks would probably pick him out of the crowd, though maybe without knowing where they'd seen him before. That's how it is sometimes when you run into the bartenders who work at Estelle's. Dan on the other hand I hadn't met. Getting the two of them in one room though, I should have brought along an interpreter.
Stelloh is one for rapid-fire conversation. Talking to him is like to leave the listener a bit breathless to compensate. The gamut of topics he's likely to touch upon will also leave a person reeling a bit. Add Dan into the mix though and suddenly it was another language being spoken in front of me. The layers of reference left me with the feeling I'd just barely missed the punchline of some hilarious joke. Bits of Venture Brothers, Mitch Hedberg and Trading Places seeped in between what must have been just old shared hijinks.
Our conversation started with Dan providing a soundtrack on a particularly beaten up acoustic guitar. Stelloh requested that he play some zombie songs:
Dan "I was under the assumption that everything was a zombie song."
Stelloh [to me] "Everything has to be played on an acoustic guitar. So you can still play after the zombie apocalypse."
Dan "I hate acoustic guitars. Except this one."
That was really about all I was able to follow in the interview. They talked a bit about their longstanding friendship. They talked about their experiments with putting amps into bathtubs for recording purposes. They impersonated eachother.
So I wasn't able to pry out any groundbreaking revelations from talking with the brain trust that is The Streeters. On the other hand, the music does a good job of speaking for itself. There's the background of these two media sponges to feed it along with their thirty some years of not uninteresting lives. The music gets away with things a younger band couldn't, in the way that the great Johnny Cash could take a trite turn of phrase or an overused stereotype and make it into a hit song.
The Streeters may have a few more miles to go before they reach the heights of The Man in Black. But their music is on its way. It's moody like a particularly rough hangover in parts. It's got a hell-bent drive behind it like that last ill-advised shot of whiskey.
Overall, it's a rollicking brand of country punk that The Streeters play. Stelloh has been in a long list of punk bands in the past and you can hear that still echoing out from "Ain't No Love Song," as the chorus is belted out by the whole band. The organ in the background though sends things off to another direction entirely.
These are folks who've played the gamut of musical styles, and rather than trying to repress these disparate tendencies, each person's influence is given some free reign. I can hear in particular that little bit of metal and hard core coming from the bassist Joe Palacios. I saw an old band of his play to a packed crowd at the old Pontiac.
So come on out to Quenchers. There's a wall of whiskey for the drinking, and more beers than any sane person will be able to sample. Choose something you'll remember to pronounce later in the night and stick with it. There's no way you'll be wanting to waste your time with reading those damned beer boards once the band's started up.
The newest material from The Streeters, now that they've had a chance to record with their full lineup, is up on their MySpace page. Take a listen in particular to "Handsome Devil" to see what you're in for.