Inteview: The Methadones Frontman on Band’s Prospects

One of the more intriguing and exciting pieces of musical news so far this year is the reemergence of punk luminaries The Methadones. The band, who stopped playing in 2010, are back playing live (a couple of shows as well as this year’s Punk Rock Raduno in July in Italy and Fest in October) and also releasing a vinyl version of 2007’s This Won’t Hurt…, the prolific band’s fifth album, via Red Scare. Frontman Dan Schafer took some questions about the band and its prospects. 

This is just so interesting about you playing again and putting out the album. So, in 2020 you guys were going to play again? 
We had first been asked by a friend of ours if we wanted to play his festival, Punk Rock Raduno, in Bergamo, Italy. When we had gone there before we really had a good time. He reached out and said, “What are the chances that The Methadones can play?” I said, “Well, I don’t know, I’ll throw it out there—I’d be willing to do it if they are.” Flights are expensive, and if we did a couple other shows, we could probably recoup the money. They all loved the idea, so we got the ball rolling. Then COVID hit, and it put everything to a halt. Twenty-twenty-one didn’t either, but now they’re doing the festival, so we’re going, and we’re all pretty excited. Things are sounding really good, and we’re really having a lot of fun playing the songs. 

Yeah, so, is everyone the same in the band? 
It’s three out of four. It’s me, Mike Soucy, and Pete Mittler, and then Simon Lamb is the only one who wasn’t in the band before. A welcome addition, a good friend of ours.  

When did you actually stop with this band? 
We started in 1993; we played for a little bit, but the band members just really couldn’t get it going. We gave it another shot around ’99, and then in 2000 got into the full swing of it again. It went steady; we played a lot for about 10 years, and then we stopped. We officially called it in 2010. 

This Won’t Hurt…, came out 15 years ago—That seems crazy that it was that long ago. Did Red Scare get in touch with you about doing something or what happened?  
No. When we had this thing coming back, we got a hold of Red Scare and asked if they wanted to re-release it and they said yeah, so here we are. Since we’re playing these shows and figured it was a good time to repress, and Toby agreed. 

I don’t know about you, but when you listen back, have your thoughts changed about it? I don’t know how you look back on it. 
Thank god, I liked it! I went back and listened and was nervous. I really was. When you’re in a band, you don’t listen to your album after it’s released. I mean, I don’t… I don’t know anybody who does, really. I kind of forget about it, you start playing it live, and that’s that. Then, every once in a while it may come on, and you’ll be like, “Oh yeah, I remember that,” that kind of thing. I went back during the time we rehearsed for the Raduno Festival, and I was really surprised. It had been a long time. I like the other records as well. That doesn’t happen with all my records… There’s some of them that I go back and listen to and just pick them apart. But with those, I was able to really enjoy them, and that was really a great thing. I was pretty happy about that. I enjoyed going back and listening to them, and those guys had the same experience I did. It made us a little more enthusiastic about playing again moving forward.  

You’re also playing Fest, and I saw you have a couple shows you’re playing so far. Are you going to add more? 
We’ll see. I don’t rule out playing more shows. My other band (Dan Vapid and the Cheats) is already playing Fest, so I asked the rest of The Methadones if they wanted to play, and they immediately said yes. That being said, our bass player lives in Florida; I live in Southern Illinois; the other two live in Chicago. We’re all from Chicago originally, but over the years, we moved away; we don’t see each other quite as often as we used to, so that’s always a hurdle. But if we can figure out the logistics, we’ll tackle them. It seems like it’ll be fun, and a lot of the offers we have they seem like they will be too, so we’re excited.  

I guess it’s too early to ask, but could you see yourselves doing something, like writing new material? (Laughs) 
I could. I think a lot of it is going to have to depend if the demand is there. You know what I mean? If the demand isn’t strong enough, I think I’d probably just let it rest in the past. If it pushes in that direction, cool. I’m definitely open to it. I can do that in the band I play in now, just play songs. If that makes sense. As a songwriter, I’m already able to fulfill that need with the band that I’m in. But, I’m not saying no. We’ll see.  

OK, it’s open. (Laughter) 
Yeah, it is open. I don’t want to go out there and beat a dead horse if I don’t have to. If people want it once and that’s it, that’s fine.   

Yeah. Which instrument did you pick up first when you were young? Guitar first? 
Maybe it was the bass. It’s a good question because my older brother played guitar, and I remember him handing me a bass, but I think I had a guitar as well that he was showing me. We’re going back to maybe when I was 15 or something. So, they were kind of around the same time. I would just mess around with it. Probably the bass but I didn’t stick with it. Then I went to guitar, back to bass, and then back to guitar. My dad and my older brother played guitar, so I kind of actually didn’t want to play because they did. (Laughs) When I was a kid I didn’t want to do whatever it was they were doing. But I ended up taking to music. I guess it’s in the genes. My grandmother was a pianist too. Just picked it up and always loved music from a really early age. Bought a lot of records in my childhood.   

Was your dad into rock ‘n’ roll and stuff? 
He had Beatles, Stones, and Who and records—I remember he had a Dave Clark Five record, too. He also had really bad stuff like The Doobie Brothers and Bob Seger. It was a mix, but they used to play around the house, and my mom would sing out of a song book. It was really corny, but I think it probably had some kind of effect on me because I ended up gravitating towards being a guy in a band. You just don’t really know with those kinds of things. I can’t tell you enough how corny I thought it was at the time, but I remember listening to those records and going through them; I remember looking at his guitar, seeing his books, and them singing together. So, it’s all in there somewhere. 

When it comes to your style, when did you pick up The Ramones and punk and all that? 
That’s a good question. The trajectory is this, and it started at about 5 years old: from KISS to AC/DC, to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Minor Threat, and then to The Ramones. When I heard The Ramones, it was one of those things that made me see music a little differently. They were the first band that I can remember where they were employing these really strong pop sensibilities with this energy, this rock ‘n’ roll attitude. I just loved it. Growing up I was just a sucker for pop songs. I still am to this day. I just love a great hook. But I always loved the energy and attitude of punk rock, so The Ramones brought all that together for me. That changed how I viewed music. 

After that, there’s a band locally in Chicago called Naked Raygun who had really good hooks as well, so those two bands were the big ones for me. Those were the two bands that made me want to take music more seriously. I went from being a little more of a hardcore kid into wanting to be more of a Ramones/Naked Raygun/Buzzcocks/The Descendents and more bands like that, so I kind of went that route, and in time it got the name pop-punk. But it wasn’t called that at the time. People would just call it punk rock with melody or something. (Laughs) That was my trajectory. And then from that, now I listen to all kinds of stuff, but growing up that was basically my thing. That was the big thing that got it all started.   

It’s so interesting to hear about how you got on your way. (Laughs) 
Everybody’s got a music journey. I’m sure you’ve got one too.  

Yes, yes. But that’s cool because people might not have known that you  were into Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and everything. 
Yeah, you wouldn’t think so. People would be like, “He was a metalhead,” and I’m like, “Yeah, I was.” I was really into metal when I was growing up until maybe I was 15, 16 then I went more in the punk direction. Before that metal was the gateway into punk. Like Metallica wore punk rock t-shirts a lot, so I would say, “Who are The Misfits? I wanna hear them.”  

I did, and I was blown away. That’s how that came about, and then it gets more and more underground, the music. Then you just discover more and more music once you discover one and you wanna hear it all. So, you just do your research and find out where you can buy your records and you go and do that. That’s it, rock, metal, hardcore, punk. Poppier punk.

Watch the video for “Sorry To Keep You Waiting” here:

For more from The Methadones, find them on Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Red Scare

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