A short while ago, Suburban Legends hit these shores with fellow ska rocksters Reel Big Fish and blew us away with a night of grin-inducing musical lunacy. We managed to get some time with them before the show to catch up with events since their last visit in April. As ever, things went a little… off track!
Suburban Legends, back in Glasgow. We saw you in April right over the other side of the street. Why are you back so soon? Did you miss us?
Klemm: We definitely didn’t miss the Irn-Bru!
Robot: The people – the fine people of Scotland!
And the best crowd of the tour so far?
All: It usually is!
Vince: We say that every night, but we really mean it here.
Klemm: You guys have no inhibitions.
I hear your residency at DisneyLand ended recently?
Vince: Kind of.
Robot: The stage we normally play is going dark for refurbishment and nobody knows exactly how long it’ll take. They’re booking us for other things, though. It’s Disney and there are plenty of other locations they can place us.
A facebook post I spotted a couple of weeks ago told us about Carter. What’s his story?
Klemm: I grew up with this girl and went to high school with her. I had the band through high school, but nobody paid attention to it then. She grew up and discovered us again years later. She got married and they had a kid, and ever since that kid was a baby she’s been bringing him to our shows. He’d have those giant air-traffic controller earphones on. He’s four or five and always front and centre, dancing. All our fans have taken to him – it’s like a family. We don’t do anything – the fans schedule everything. “It’s Carter’s birthday, let’s sort something out!” and so on. They love this kid.
And he’s been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Our fans – the family – have just let loose this outpouring of love. They’re doing everything they can to raise awareness and help raise money for his medical bills – it costs a lot. For someone so small to take on such a huge thing that even adults have a problem with… We went to visit him at his house and played a couple of song for him because he can’t go anywhere – his immune system is down. But he’s taking it like a champ, better than an adult would.
Thing is, it’s not just happened to him, it’s happened to his whole family. I think they’re taking it harder than he is.
Back to the music and tonight’s show… is Ed drumming for both bands tonight?
Klemm: Yes, he is.
Are you going to kick him out as a traitor?
Robot: No, he’s too awesome!
Vince: As long as he’ll play with us, we’ll have him. Last year they needed a drummer for Europe.
Klemm: They got a call and their drummer left to join the band America. The call came through about a week before the tour.
Vince: He was learning the shows a week before leaving and at the same time playing Disney shows with us. He was drumming almost 24/7. He’s incredible.
Klemm… Vince… you have a little side project on the go as well – Personal Satisfaction. Tell us a little about that.
Klemm: It’s a blues comedy show. There’s music there, but it’s really a lot of shenanigans. Walking the crowd, talking to them, telling jokes.
Vince: It’s like a college jam band with a stand-up comedian.
Klemm: We’re doing odd shows here and there, bar & grills that kind of thing. Just for fun.
Vince: It’s like Blues Brothers kind of blues. It’s kind of how Brian and I met – we grew up listening to blues.
Klemm: We’ve been playing blues together since I was 14 or 15 and he was 16 or 17, even before Suburban Legends.
Vince: It’s like when Muddy Waters and W.C.Fields get together. Except not like that at all. It’s like when BB King and Buddy Guy get together. Same thing… but not like that at all.
Klemm: It’s two awkward dudes; an Asian and a tall, skinny white guy.
Vince: It’s literally the genesis of dad rock. What dad rock birthed is what Personal Satisfaction is. We’re showing the world performance blues. If dads practised their guitars, they’d be something like us. But instead, dads come watch us. We’re breaking the cycle and blazing past.
Klemm: It’s a bit of covers, bit of original material, but it turns into a bunch of made up stuff on the fly.
Vince: It’s a testament to our musicianship, I would say. There’s no plans for any recordings or anything.
You could put a few songs into the set tonight. Nobody would mind…
Vince: They wouldn’t mind… they’d just leave!
Forever in the Friend Zone shipped in June. How’s that been doing?
Klemm: Really well, we’ve had a great response to it. There are copies here tonight for people to buy!
You spend a lot of your time playing live. What’s the maddest thing you’ve seen on tour?
Klemm: Killed a man once. For me, that was a big stretch because he was already dead when I found him. I just killed him more. I don’t know! We’re boring!
Vince: The other day we saw squashed rat.
Klemm: No! No! We saw a magpie fighting a squirrel! That was awesome! A bird fighting a squirrel – that’s the most “nature” you could get! Who’s going to win?
Vince: Probably the magpie because there’s two of them.
Klemm: They’re like raptors, they travel in packs.
Vince: Another crazy thing that happened was today. We walked into our hotel room and thought the air was kind of… thick. We opened the bathroom door… the guy who last took a shit in there, probably this morning, it still smelled like poo. The bathroom was clean, but it was gassed up in there. I mean, that was crazy today!
Klemm: Before that, it was the bird and the squirrel fighting, then the shit in the room… raise the bar, man. You can’t get any higher than that!
Vince: That smell had probably been there since eight or nine this morning and we came in at four. That’s a solid six hours for it to dissipate in any kind of vent, but it stayed. That’s impressive.
Riiiight. So… last question. If you could meet a band today who are where you guys were at just before you you wrote and recorded your first album, what advice would you give them?
Klemm: What kind of job do they do outside of the band?
[This led to ten minutes of Klemm and Vince narrowing down this exact band and myself promising to create said band and send them a recording of their demo to see if they wanted to sign them. The band are called Magpie Squirrel with four members (female-fronted, two gay dudes and the other married), rock’n’roll with an edge – two major songs (“Magpies Rock” and “Don’t Mess With My Squirrel”). So if you know anyone who fancies writing/recording this for a giggle… – Mosh]
Vince: So what’s our advice now that we know the entire band?
Robot: “Practice really hard”. There. That’s it.
Klemm: Find someone that believes in you, then proceed to be reckless with your life while they pick up the pieces.
Vince: The real answer is probably just “have fun”.
Klemm: We don’t make any money but we get to tour with our best friends. If you can tell them that you get to do this with your friends and you get to make other people happy, then fucking do it. There are so many times when I’ve been on tour playing in front of thousands of people and I think “this is my life right now… this is what I get to do”. Not what I’m doing – what I get to do. With my friends. Every time people in the crowd are singing our words, I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. So you tell them, that if that’s what they want; and to have no money; and live at home as long as possible; but to get the experience of a lifetime… then do it.