Screeching Weasel Overview
Screeching Weasel is an American punk band from Chicago, Illinois. They were formed in 1986 by Ben Weasel and John Jughead John Pierson (musician) . The band gained prominence in the early 1990s after signing a record deal with the East Bay East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area) punk label, Lookout! Records.
Since the band's formation, Weasel has been its only constant member, though Jughead was present in every incarnation of the band until 2009. The next most prominent members in the band have been Danny Vapid on guitar and bass and Dan Panic on drums. However, the band has been through many line-up changes and at times included such notable musicians as Mike Dirnt and Mass Giorgini.
Many subsequent po***r punk bands have cited Screeching Weasel as influential, including Green Day, Blink-182, Rise Against, and Chunk.
Early years (1986-1989)
In 1986, Ben Foster and John Pierson were inspired to start a band after attending a Ramones concert. Foster (who played bass and sang) rechristened himself "Ben Weasel," while Pierson, a guitarist, dubbed himself "John Jughead." The duo recruited Steve Dubick as drummer who went by the alias of Steve Cheese to complete the group.
The band originally called themselves All Night Garage Sale but changed their name to Screeching Weasel, a variation of a name a friend had suggested, Screaming Otter, which was a reference to a t-shirt that read, "I'VE GOT A SCREAMING OTTER IN MY PANTS!"., Fish quit and was replaced by Dan Schafer Dan Vapid , originally nick-named "Sewercap" and later renamed Danny Vapid. The new band members recorded an EP titled Punkhouse for Limited Potential Records soon after that. The band ended up recording two more songs in 1989 that ended up on compilations, featuring a second guitarist Doug Ward, who also joined the band for several live shows. Screeching Weasel broke up when Vermin and Vapid stated that they wanted to quit the band to concentrate on their side project, Sludgeworth.
First reformation (1991-1994)
After the break-up, Weasel and Jughead formed a new band called The Gore Gore Girls The Gore Gore Girls(male) , and Ben briefly performed in the original incarnation of The Vindictives. In 1991, the members of Screeching Weasel reunited for what was intended as a one-off gig to pay off debts the band incurred from the recording of Boogadaboogadaboogada!. The line-up consisted of Ben, Jughead, Vapid, Vermin, and Ward. After the show, Dan Vapid discussed the idea of reforming Screeching Weasel with Jughead. All of the band's members agreed to reform, with the exceptions of Brian Vermin and Douglas Ward. To replace Vermin, drummer Dan Panic (Dan Sullivan) was brought in. Before recording their next album, 1991's My Brain Hurts (for Lookout! Records), Ben Weasel decided that he wanted to focus on singing and would no longer be playing guitar in the band. Vapid switched instruments from bass to guitar, and former Gore Gore Girls bassist Dave *** joined the band. The recording sessions for the album also produced the Pervo-Devo EP.
After recording My Brain Hurts, Dave *** was fired from the band and Scott "Gub" Conway, Panic's former bandmate, was brought in as the band's bassist to tour. After the tour, Johnny Personality of The Vindictives became the group's bassist, as Gub was committed to another band. By late 1992, the band had recorded the follow up to My Brain Hurts, Wiggle Wiggle (album) , which also marked their first collaboration with producer Mass Giorgini, who went on to produce the vast majority of the Screeching Weasel catalog, and also became the bassist of the band from 1998-2004. Johnny Personality then quit the band to focus on The Vindictives. Instead of adding a new member, Weasel moved back to guitar, and Vapid moved back to bass.
The band was then asked to record a cover of an entire Ramones album, 1992's Ramones Ramones (Screeching Weasel album) , followed later that year by Anthem For A New Tomorrow. Shortly after the record's release, Ben decided that he no longer wanted to play live, and Vapid quit after falling out with the rest of the group. Screeching Weasel enlisted the help of Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt to record what they intended to be their final album. After 1994's How To Make Enemies And Irritate People was released, the band broke up for the second time.
Second reformation (1996-2001)
Following the second breakup, Weasel, Vapid, and Panic formed the band The Riverdales and experienced some notoriety touring with Green Day. By 1996 they rejoined with Jughead and recorded a new Screeching Weasel album Bark Like A Dog for Fat Mike's Fat Wreck Chords label. The album reached 34th place on the Billboard Heatseekers Top Heatseekers list, making it their highest charting album. However, both Vapid and Panic left by mutual decision after the recording, and Weasel and Jughead decided to go on without them, adding bassist Mass Giorgini (who had served as the band's producer in the past) and drummer Dan Lumley. Weasel also decided for the second time that he no longer wanted to play guitar, so guitarist Zac Damon was added.
In 1998, this new line-up recorded the Major Label Debut EP; the first release on Panic Button Records, a label Ben and John had formed that year and quickly followed it with Television City Dream. Their next release 1999's, Emo Emo (album) , featured the same line-up minus Zac Damon, who was unable to record due to school commitments at the time. In 2000 the band brought in Phillip Hill as a second guitarist and recorded what would be their final album, Teen Punks In Heat. After the album, Screeching Weasel made their first live appearances since 1993, playing 30 minute matinees at Chicago's House of Blues. The band broke up for the third—and allegedly final—time on July 6, 2001, due to Jughead's frustration of a lack of touring.
Hiatus and Brief Third Reformation
Members of Screeching Weasel have since gone on to form bands such as The Methadones, Even in Blackouts, and a reunited version of The Riverdales. Additionally, Ben Weasel released a solo record in 2002 entitled Fidatevi, and a second one, These Ones Are Bitter, in 2007.
In 2004, Ben rescinded all of the Screeching Weasel and Riverdales The Riverdales masters from Lookout! Records in the wake of long-running financial and personal conflicts. The masters were subsequently licensed to and reissued by Asian Man Records.
Both Ben and Jughead authored books seemingly related to Screeching Weasel. In 2001, Ben Weasel published Like Hell, the account of a fictional punk band called Pagan Icons and the life of their frontman, Joe Pagan. Jughead released Weasels in a Box, his admittedly fictionalized account of Screeching Weasel's history. Both books were published by Hope And Nonthings, a publishing house run by Jughead. Jughead has been a member of the Neo-Futurists since 1997 through which he writes and performs for a show called Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. He has performed with both the New York and Chicago companies, and continues to do so to this day.
Mass Giorgini and Dan Lumley returned to one of their prior bands, Common Rider after the 2001 Screeching Weasel breakup. Common Rider recorded a new album, This is Unity Music, which was released in 2002. This was accompanied by a two-month tour which was followed by an announcement that Common Rider was dissolving. Giorgini and Lumley then re-formed their other prior band, Squirtgun, and recorded and released the album Fade to Bright in 2003, also accompanied by a tour. Immediately following the tour, Dan Lumley announced his retirement from professional music on Punknews.org.
A line-up consisting of Ben Weasel, Jughead, and multi-year Screeching Weasel veterans Dan Vapid, Mass Giorgini, and Dan Lumley (apparently out of retirement) came together briefly in 2004 to play surprise sets at the Chicago club The Fireside Bowl
In 2007 a live performance of the band was included in 924 Gilman, a documentary about the famous club.
At 2007's Insubordination Fest in Baltimore, Ben Weasel performed a set, backed by The Guts, and was joined on stage by Dan Vapid on guitar for several Screeching Weasel and Riverdales songs. Ben Weasel and Dan Vapid also played two shows in August 2008 at Reggie's Rock Club in Chicago, playing the entirety of My Brain Hurts as well as other songs by Screeching Weasel, The Riverdales, and from Ben Weasel's solo albums.
Fourth reformation (2009-)
In March 2009, Ben Weasel announced on his blog that he had reformed Screeching Weasel. For the first time, the band features a lineup without John Jughead, although longtime member Dan Vapid has rejoined. Ben wrote:
"I really want to give you the lowdown on the SW re-formation but there's honestly not a lot to say. Legal issues prevented me from doing my own band on my own terms over the past couple of years but thankfully those problems are all resolved now. The kind of stuff happens sometimes. I won't deny that those problems - which were really just the culmination of many years of a lot of other b.s. - left a foul taste in my mouth about SW. But now that all the headaches are behind me I'm feeling great about it. I'm finally running my own band again and I'm really happy and excited to be back at it. I've got a killer line-up comprised of myself, Danny Vapid, Simon Lamb (the Ritalins), Justin Perkins (Yesterday's Kids) and Adam Cargin (Blueheels) (he's also the new Riverdales drummer) and we've got a great set list."
In reponse to the resurrection of the Screeching Weasel name without his involvement, Jughead released the following statement via his MySpace page:
If it weren’t for the fact that I actually enjoy conversing with the fans of my prior bands, I would never have found out about a new band called Screeching Weasel beginning to tour. “This can’t be the band I was in.” I say to myself. “I would have been preparing.” My mind would much prefer going to a place of calm contemplation than into a dark cold room filled with anger and the emotions associated with betrayal. So to avoid painful emoting I first took the facts that Ben and I started a band together called Screeching Weasel, we both spent all our days making that band a home for ourselves, and 18 years later we put it to rest. This along with the statement made by both me and Ben on many occasions that the band wouldn’t be Screeching Weasel without either of us, makes me assume that this band playing isn’t Screeching Weasel, because I don’t recall having kicked myself out of the band. So it seems logical that this is not Screeching Weasel. If it were I would have to admit that I longer [sic] have friends named Ben Foster or Dan Schafer. As for people like Ben Weasel, Dan Vapid, or even John Jughead, I have nothing to say, because they never really existed, they were just made up names for a bunch of friends that tried to do something different in order to survive and make a living in this world. And I imagine they are all still trying to make a living somehow, seeing that their band’s prominent “leader” never wanted to tour in order to make it financially viable to continue on.
Ben later revealed the split with Jughead was the result of two-year long legal battle over Screeching Weasel's business affairs and, although they were resolved, Ben said "it was not an amicable split" and that "things had gone way, way past the point of no return in terms of our friendship and any semblance of a working relationship anymore".
In November 2009, Mike Park of Asian Man Records announced that Ben had decided to sever his relationship with the label and that Recess Records would be carrying the Screeching Weasel, Riverdales and Ben Weasel solo back catalogues.*Ben Weasel (Vocals/Guitar) (1986-2001, 2004, 2009)
*John Jughead (Guitar) (1986-2001, 2004)
*Vinnie Bovine (Bass) (1986-1988)
*Steve Cheese (Drums) (1986-1988)
*Aaron Cometbus (Drums) (1988, two shows)
*Warren Fish (Bass) (1988-1989)
*Brian Vermin (Drums) (1988-1990)
*Dan Vapid (Guitar/Bass) (1989-1994, 1996, 2004, 2009)
*Doug Ward (Guitar) (1989)
*Dave *** (Bass) (1991-1992)
*Scott "Gub" Conway (Bass) (1992)
*Dan Panic (Drums) (1991-1996)
*Johhny Personality (Bass) (1992)
*Mike Dirnt (Bass) (1994)
*Mass Giorgini (Bass) (1996-2001, 2004)
*Dan Lumley (Drums) (1996-2001, 2004)
*Zac Damon (Guitar) (1997-1998)
*Phillip Hill Phillip Hill (musician) (Guitar) (2000-2001)
*Simon Lamb (Guitar) (2009)
*Justin Perkins (Bass) (2009)
*Adam Cargin (Drums)(2009)The band's lyrics reflected Weasel's apolitical "anti-everything" orientation set to music that was melodic, fast and derivative of the Ramones. Also much like the Ramones, common lyrical themes were girls, paranoia, and anxiety problems (which Weasel suffered from). Many centered on Weasel's relationship with then-girlfriend Portia.
Upon their first reformation, their music transformed from the traditional punk and hardcore punk of when they began, to their epic pop punk sound.
The middle period of the band's sound begins most distinctly with the album My Brain Hurts, reaching adolescence with Wiggle Wiggle (album) and flowering into full realization with Anthem For a New Tomorrow Anthem For A New Tomorrow . These works and several of those following it are characterized by more complex, anthemic songwriting and more intelligent and metaphoric lyrics. During this time Ben Weasel frequently collaborated with Joe King The Queers , frontman of The Queers, to write songs.
Through his writings in Maximum RocknRoll, fanzines, and lyrics, Ben Weasel established himself as one of the most pungent internal critics of the punk scene. As an example, in the 1999 song "Tightrope Tightrope (Screeching Weasel song) ", Weasel launched a rather pointed attack on the glorification of violence and chauvinism by what he termed "tough-guy, so-called working class Oi! or street punk bands".
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