No doubt that the past year has been challenging for all of us on so many levels. It’s not 100% OFFICIAL, but March 2021 may just be that moment we have all been waiting for. It’s not the beginning of the end, but the end of the feeling of hopelessness converting to hope. Life may be getting back to normal sooner than later, and now we can start dreaming about tomorrow again.
That said, I find myself thinking and daydreaming about being back on the road with The Von Tramps. I see all the possibilities and friends from other bands I’ve toured with and others I want to tour with. The possibilities of touring with bands from coast-to-coast has so many variables, it’s like an episode of “Star Trek.”
What I love most about “Star Trek” is that there is no mission other than discovery. They’re not looking to dominate planets or start intergalactic wars; they’re just driving around in a big spaceship, canoodling with aliens from distant lands, eating lots of weird, questionably-expired food, and bonding with their crew.
That sounds 100% like touring in a band. Before the pandemic shut us down for a bit, I had been lucky enough to experience touring the country with The Von Tramps. The best part is finding so many underground bands that kick ass. In this list, you may see bands you haven’t quite met yet. I urge you live like the “Star Trek” crew and visit these distant lands. Offer up to share a gas station Lunchable and get to know the bands I wish I was on tour with right now.
The Von Tramps “My Mom Told Me Life Would Suck (But Not This Much)” (Minneapolis, MN)
Of course I would need my band in order to start this tour! We always have the best time on tour and this song is one of our favorites to play live! Can you believe it almost didn’t make the cut during recording?
Til Morning “Okay” (Chicago, IL)
Our shows with the artist formerly known as Parker were canceled due to the pandemic (boo). We were absolutely looking forward to this mini-tour run with the pop punk brothers of the Midwest. Since the hiatus from live shows, Parker has been anything but quiet. After going through a name change to Til Morning, they released this beacon of hope song called “Okay” that definitely got me through the uncertainty of the pandemic. As Devin Parker sing/screams an instruction, almost distinctly for everyone to get through these uncertain times: “Hold on to the little things / That’s how we know we’re okay.” I cannot wait to hit the road with Devin and Patrick; you said it best brother(s).
Tsunami Bomb “The Spine that Binds” (Oakland, CA)
Is it cheating if we’ve already played with this band a couple of times? So much fun to play with this gang of Warped Tour legends and their creepy cool sound. I’d share Cheetos in a green room with them any day. BYO horror movies, just please not one I’m starring in.
Backyard Superheroes “Never Give Up” (Central Jersey, NJ)
This “song” by Backyard Superheroes is hilarious. With “Never Give Up,” the band just sorta gives up on it 30 seconds in. Your irony is not lost on me friends. We cannot wait to meet this Jersey band and play a show with them. Listen to their album “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.” The track “Mary” is a gem; and also my grandma’s name: She’s also a gem and the one who taught me how to listen to music too loud (Love you, Grandma!).
Rundown Kreeps “Yellow Truck” (El Serano, CA)
Von Tramps and Rundown Kreeps, sittin’ in a tree: S-K-A-N-K-I-N-G. I love this band. Can I let my Midwest out for a second? They’re so stankin’ cute. A true force in songwriting: they can be aggressive and in the same line, they can be candid going straight to your heart. You can tell these guys jam all the time together because their timing is perfect and always in the pocket. They blended a few of my favorite things: early ‘90s Green Day East Bay pop punk, and a little Bradley Nowel/Fishbone flair. “Yellow Truck” is a banger and Richard’s voice is perfect on this track. I can’t wait to hear the new single that’s coming courtesy of My Grito records. Also, please check out their “Mas Alto Vol. 2” comp. All proceeds go to supporting immigrant rights. Much love boys, ustedes son mi todo: Oi! Oi! Oi!
Bumsy and the Moochers “Youth” (Chicago, IL)
Caitlin Edwards: you are one of the most talented people I have ever met. This girl is a festival coordinator, fronts Bumsy and the Moochers, and is a multi-instrumentalist. I love this song. The lyrics speak volumes to me being, so intimate and beautifully tragic. The choice of how this was recorded and arranged adds to that intimacy. It’s stripped down from their other songs using acoustic guitars and minimal horn accents; no drums at all. I love how this song was recorded and almost sounds like the band is playing it to me in my living room. Great job Caitlin and team. I cannot wait to see you at Punk the Burbs Chicago again.
Half Past Two “See You Again” (Orange County, CA)
My friends from the west, who I have only met screen to screen! You first caught my eye with “Shine,” and I have to say your catalog is in my playlist all of the time. “See You Again” is a great Trojan Records-sounding ska song, and Tara’s voice sweetly croons connecting all the essential dots for me. I cannot wait to play a show with you when we come west! The offer is still on the table to bring you to Minneapolis. Tara: you and I could go downtown, throw our flat bill and porkpie hats like Mary Tyler Moore. Think about it. You and I both know we could turn the world on with a smile.
Hayley and the Crushers “Jacaranda” (San Luis Obisbo, CA)
This song sounds like what growing up in the ‘90s was like, in the best way. Hayley and I would have been best friends with afternoons consisting of watching “Josie and the Pussycats,” junkin’ out on Razzles, and taking Polaroids of our outfits before going out. Hayley and the Crushers is a rad three-piece that hits me in all my nostalgic feels. This song needs to be on a soundtrack right now. Is there a “Buffy” reboot happening? They definitely need to play this song at The Bronze. Sarah Michelle Gellar, take a note – get on this. Get ready Crushers, I got a box of Razzles for ya if you get in the Von Tramps’ van.
The Venomous Pinks “Hold On” (Phoenix, AZ)
Arizona is hot because of the Venomous Pinks. The moment they leave that state, Arizona will turn into a barren tundra; mark my words. My scientific reasoning may be a bit skewed here, but my opinion on this band is definitely not. The Venomous Pinks rock and if you haven’t heard them yet, you need to. Elements of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Rancid, and NOFX : this band rips! Also, check out Gaby Kaos’ “Bassists against Racists” t-shirts!
Catbite “Scratch Me Up” (Philadelphia, PA)
Put Catbite in the bands we HAVE to play with someday category. We haven’t played a show with these folks from Philadelphia and it’s a cryin’ shame. Powerpop. Ska. Chelsea haircuts. I am for it. “Scratch Me Up” has a sick video too, so check it out!
Sorry, Scout “Red Flags” (St. Louis, MO)
Right off the bat, this song sounds like nothing I have heard before. It’s alty. It’s got a little new wave to it, by way of The Police. It has a Breeders/Kim Deal vocal tone. Love this band. We were supposed to hit a Midwest date with this band on their turf in St. Louis. Covid-19 had other plans and canceled this tour. It’s not the last we’ve heard of Sorry, Scout and I can’t wait to play a date (again) with this group.
Fea “You Can’t Change Me” (San Antonio, TX)
A Blackhearts band, but truly all original. Fea’s lyrics pack a punch, but the sound here is the knockout. Elements of Hole, Sonic Youth, and underground raw punk,
Fea is the guttural glam garage band I need in my life. They sound like my big sister when she found out someone bullied me on the playground. Check them out, NOW!
Timisarocker “When Doves Cry” (Minneapolis, MN)
The amazing one-of-a-kind Tim Dooley and I are good friends, so I may be biased, but I absolutely believe this is the best cover of this song that I’ve ever heard. Tim Dooley shows mad love and respect for Minneapolis’ own Prince. Tim’s unique voice is easy to fall in love with, and brought so much to our track “Checkerboard Chick” when he guested on “The Future is Female.” Tim is an icon in fashion and music, and his performances are packed with professional showmanship (including performing live on roller skates).
Alisabeth Von Presley “I’m A Wonder” (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Whether you’re training for a marathon, or coaching yourself on how to ask your boss for a raise, this is your fight song. We had the pleasure of playing with Alisabeth Von Presely in Chicago and hearing her “Barbie/Elvis” inspired tracks. Spot on. This girl is the total package, and did I mention an “American Idol” contestant? Check her out.
Crimson Riot “Riot” (Las Vegas, NV)
I knew it was true love when Crimson Riot called from a stage in Las Vegas, “Where’s Jenna Enemy? This is for you!,” and played Blink-182’s “All the Small Things.” Crimson Riot are seasoned performers moonlighting as a premiere cover band on the Vegas Strip, and recording their original works by day. Winner of the Topgolf “Who Will Rock You Series,” fellow lovers of hound dogs, and our brethren in the industry. We salute you Crimson Riot. They have a new release coming soon Via Die Laughing records, so check it out!
Space Monkey Mafia “Start Again” (Minneapolis, MN)
Space Monkey Mafia are The Von Tramps’ brothers from other mothers. Truly. We love them. The minute the pandemic is over, I am getting in a van with them. This song in particular helped me through the solitude of the pandemic, and I just adore Dante’s voice. The simplicity is great, giving the complicated tone of the lyrics levity; something Space Monkey Mafia excels with. They can take the most intense dilemmas the world has, and serve them on a ska platter with a side of deep understanding. Add them to your playlists today. Their song “Oligarchy” is a great place to start.
Viqueen “Forest for Its Trees” (San Francisco, CA)
Heartbroken. That is the only word that can explain how utterly bummed out I am that we were unable to do our eight-day stretch with this band for SXSW. We met them in Chicago, but they’re from San Francisco, and now they live in Maine. This band is intense and fantastic live. They are a three piece, but like Nirvana, they fill the room with a wall of sound. Someday soon Viqueen, we will be back at it!
As the song goes, “it’s six o’clock somewhere and I was just in the middle of a dream.” I’m dreaming of getting back on the road to play music, and hopefully, my dreams will come true and I’ll play with these bands soon and see you too! In the meantime, support these bands and any that you love any way you can!