Long-overdue second full-length slated for May 5 release on… the revived Twin/Tone label, which is “forced back into existence.” Boy howdy!
By Fred “Blurt Archival Geek” Mills
Once upon a time there was a ground zero punk combo called the Suicide Commandos: Straight outta Minneapolis, the trio foreshadowed that ‘burg’s subsequent explosion as one of the key Amerindie scenes—think Husker Du, Soul Asylum, Replacements, et al. They only notched a pair of 45s and a full-length, 1978’s Make A Record (issued on Pere Ubu’s Mercury-distributed Blank Records label), earning critical kudos across the globe and going on to become a key artifact of punk, but, as with many similar indie avatars of the era, ultimately bit the dust.
Yours truly was honored to have had the proverbial critical front row seat at the time, though, as the punk fanzine I contributed to (and eventually published), Biohazard Informae, covered the band during its initial run. Wait… did I just write “initial run”?!?
Indeed. The news recently arrived that, against all odds, the Suicide Commandos are on the verge of gearing back up. The members, of course, went on to other pursuits—fans with long memories will fondly recall bassist Steve Almaas and his post-SC proto-Americana combo Beat Rodeo—and it’s been aeons since the name “Suicide Commandos” was uttered aside from discussions about the early Twin Cities scene and the stray one-off reunion gig. But here’s the news:
“[The Suicide Commandos are] readying their first new studio album since the 1978 Blank/Mercury debut, Make A Record. Time Bomb has many of the hallmarks of the band’s original oeuvre, their fast, punky, brainy, fun and often funny rock n’ roll sound – The Ramones meet Eddie Cochran meets ZZ Top – but adds a catchy, pop-ish slant and a modern production flare that brings a freshness to the entire proceedings. The first vinyl pressing will be a limited, numbered edition of 1,000 copies. (It will also be issued digitally.)
“Time Bomb was produced by the Commandos, primarily recorded in their hometown at Master Mix Studios by Kevin Bowe (Jonny Lang, Paul Westerberg, Dan Wilson) and mixed by Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Let’s Active, The dBs) at Fidelitorium Recordings in North Carolina. Though there had been reunion shows over the years, the band hadn’t felt compelled to record again. Why Now? you may ask.
“Guitarist Chris Osgood tells us, ‘After Tommy Erdelyi died, Steve pointed out that The Ramones were all gone and we were all still here, and that we should make a record.’ The group’s New York City-based bass player, Steve Almaas, adds ‘The time was right. I had a couple of songs I thought would sound good with Chris and Dave. Once they started coming up with material, it inspired me to write a few more. Also, in this modern age, it’s much easier to work long distance. That really helped make this possible.’
So far no plans for touring have been announced, but let’s just get to the May 5 release date first. (Local Minneapolis events include a listening party at the Clown Lounge/Turf Club on May 5th and an in-store at Treehouse Records on the 6th.) Oh, and if you noted the subhead above, you probably felt your pulse quicken: the equally legendary Twin/Tone Records label—yeah, that label, the one that gave the world the ‘mats—is also returning from the grave to do the deed. It’s the first record since the Suburbs’ 1994 album Viva! Suburbs! Welcome back, Peter Jesperson and Paul Stark. We’ve missed ya.