If You Are Going

What: Bad Bad Men Album Launch with Wagon Blasters, Those Far Out Arrows and Pagan Athletes 

Where: Reverb Lounge 

When: Friday August 25th 8PM 

Tickets: Etix.com

It would be hard to find a more accomplished lineage of musicians currently playing Omaha today than that of Bad Bad Men. The punk rock veterans have played in a who’s who of bands and projects going back decades. In fact, a couple of the band members are sharing bills with and seeing their children out playing in the area’s music scene. Bad Bad Men have been out performing for a handful of years now, brought together by their shared past and need to just have fun and play music. Though not originally in the plans, their performing together has resulted in a full-length album entitled Messed Up being released on the famed area music label SPEED! Nebraska. The album was recorded with Adam Roberts at ARC and features ten gritty punk songs that even fans of regular old rock music will find easy to swallow.

I met up with the band as they were working out a new song at their practice space. We talked about the album, having kids in bands, and the current Omaha music scene.

The Reader- What are some of the bands you have performed with?

John Wolf-Let’s go with how we all have played together.

Jerry Hug-I have been playing for forty years.

Chris Siebken-Forty plus years for me. 

The band threw out names such as Cellophane Ceiling, Ritual Device, Members Of The Press, Filter Kings, a Bauhaus tribute band, Porn (Men Of), and SERIAL. 

The Reader-Now you have kids in bands. How is that?

John-It’s Awesome. When they intentionally got into music and started doing that, that was a blast. It’s fun to watch, and it’s fun to keep playing. I think for us, where we are at, since we are veterans, we are very comfortable with what we are doing now. We are not out to necessarily prove anything; we are doing it for ourselves and to have fun, and we get along. That is the magic for us.

The Reader-I interviewed your (John’s) son, and they hyped up your band for me.

John-They have been encouraging. I will be honest. In one of our early shows I played, one of my sons said, ‘you have to put out a record’. I wasn’t even thinking; we were just having fun and doing that, and I was like, ‘we do need to record, and we started recording with no preconceptions, and I was seriously selfishly ‘lets do it and see, maybe let’s do a single or two, and it just kind of came together and the songs were somewhat cohesive to a sense. So I was like, ‘OK, let’s put it out.’

Jerry-And then you go to a show and play with Garst, or Cat Piss, or my nephew plays in Nowhere. You go to these shows because you are supporting your family members who are there blowing up the scene, and that is awesome. Every time there is a really good show, we try to get out and see it, and then they invite you out to play. They don’t have to do that.

The Reader-In town, the whole punk, hardcore, and garage rock thing is coming back around again from when you all originally played it. 

John-The whole thing about this is that we had these songs and we have been playing them, and like everyone else, we took COVID off and got back together and were like, ‘these are good’. We took some time and worked on them; Chris broke his foot before we were going in the studio, but it was a blessing actually; it got us to go to ARC, which was awesome; everything just fell into place.

Bad Bad Men at ARC with Adam Roberts

The Reader-How was the recording experience at ARC? 

John-It was very relaxing for us. We went in, and Adam was great to work with. It was a great room, very comfortable.

Jerry-Adam Roberts is the shit, he was very patient.

John-We didn’t want to screw around too much. We are pretty straight-forward; we think our instruments, to a certain extent, sound good, so we didn’t want to mess with it too much.

The Reader-What is your writing process? Is it the jamming I just heard waiting out here?

Jerry-John brings most of it to the table. John is a prolific songwriter; he has been writing songs since I was a freshman in high school and he was a senior because he is older than me.

John-He keeps bringing that up.

Jerry-Those were the Cellophane Ceiling days, and I remember going to shows, and John has always had a voice and a vision for his songs. I think when we first started getting together it was a little less collaborative, not in a bad way, because Chris and I just wanted to play. I was ready to just play. I had taken some time off from playing and I needed a release. Now we have been the last few years talking through songs and ‘how does this structure feel how does this song sound’,  but John brings everything in, he is like ‘I have got this riff’, ‘oh that is awesome’. 

John-As we go through the songs and work on the songs, this new song we are working on—we have probably played it twenty times before, that were probably better. It’s a weird song structure. We are trying to do something; I don’t know. Writing songs, I want to try to bring something different to each song. These guys bring that twist to it that I am looking for; it’s been a blast to play with them. I have a shitload of songs, but working through them with these guys is awesome. We arrange as a band, ‘Let’s slice and dice them this way.’

The Reader-Is there a particular song on the album that stands out to you or has a specific story to it?

John-I think as far as songs the first song, “Throw It Away,” is one that I can remember the night that we first played it and could see people go ‘ok’. It is straightforward, but it has a couple little twists in it. “Flag Day”—that song has morphed into its own being;  it is a fun song to play with lots of space and a little social commentary on it”.

The Reader: What is that song about?

Chris-“We can say, it’s an inside joke”. 

John-When you ask about the songs, it is hard to say which ones stand out. Chris was even asking me. “Good For Nothing” is a song that people comment about”. 

Jerry-We had two iterations of that song. 

John-We will probably record another version of that song down the road. 

Jerry-The first version we had is very different from the version we play right now and the version that is on the record. We had this conversation that we could play both versions as during the set and no one would know. 

Chris-They are that different.

John-“Messed Up,” the last song.

Jerry-“Messed Up” is an homage to restraint. I get kind of emotional when I play that kind of stuff a little, because it is a little bit reflective on my life. A few mistakes, I know I fucked up. I fucked up real good. Everyone has that feeling. That is what I like about what John brings—that kind of grit and reality of just being a human being.

The Reader-Was putting this out on SPEED! Nebraska a natural thing? 

John-It was literally, I was at Grapefruit, Gary and I were just chatting, and he was like, What are you up to’? I said, We are getting ready to go into the studio’. He said, You should think about putting it out on Speed,’ and I said, ‘I don’t know if we are going to even release it; I will talk to you later’. Then I sat down and talked to him.

Jerry-We could have self-published it and made up some name for it, but Gary has been such a staple, and all the SPEED! Bands we have so much respect for all of those people. They have been in our orbit for decades. 

Chris-Thirty years 

John-Gary and I could talk for hours and go back and forth on stories. It was natural. I think at first Gary was thinking a few singles, and I was like, We have a whole album’. 

The Reader-Tell me about who you are playing with at the album launch party. 

John-I am so happy with the bands that are playing. Speaking of SPEED! Wagon Blasters, so that will be fun. Those Far Out Arrows, love those guys.

Chris-Great band 

John-And then my kids Pagan Athletes are on the bill, which is awesome that they agreed and wanted to play. Griffin actually played keyboards on the album, and Nathan did the cover; that is a painting he did. It was something that was sitting in our house, and I was like, That is going to be an album cover’. 

The Reader-What is your take on what is happening musically in Omaha right now? 

Jerry-It keeps getting better and better and better. John, Chris, and I grew up in the early scene where it was punk rock shows and Nirvana at the Lift Ticket, and to see that and see my nephew and my daughters going back into the DIY scene. It just keeps impressing me. There are so many great bands, and the hardcore stuff is awesome.

Band members start throwing out names like BIB, Garst, BB Sledge, and Cat Piss.

Jerry-Young humans playing this incredible music—it doesn’t matter what genre it is, it’s just so passionate and powerful, it’s like, Keep it going’. There are so many good bands.

Chris-It is awesome to see.

John-That is the thing when you asked us what band we played in. We have never put on posters who we played with. I think one of our bio’s says “If you know, you know”. 

The Reader-What else do you have coming up? 

John-We have a fair amount of shows coming up, which is good as we can promote our record.

Chris-We are playing with Mike Watt and Civic.  (Mike Watt September 6th at Reverb Lounge and Civic at The Slowdown on October 13th) 

The Reader-Any closing thoughts? 

John-I will just say we are proud of what we have done here, that is why we have decided to put it out. We are already talking about recording more. 

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