Screeching Weasel (aka just Ben) release statement +++ schedule gig @ Reggie’s
You may remember what went down at SXSW 2011 with the Chicago-based band Screeching Weasel at the Scoot Inn. In short, all members have quit aside from the band’s founder Ben Foster (aka Ben Weasel), who has just announced an October 29th performance at Reggie’s. Tickets are on sale now.
He recently issued a SUPER LONG statement, which you can read below..
Well, well, well.
Having spent the past 4 1/2 months in Hyannis (only rubes call it “Hyannis Port”) with limited Internet access I haven’t been getting the full picture of what’s transpired behind my resting back. But man does not live by clamming, parasailing and lovemaking on the beach in the soft glow of the moonlight alone, and business beckons. Oh, how it beckons!
A quick perusal of the WWW turns up the interesting fact that M. Vapid, late of Screeching Weasel, has been scampering around granting interviews to naive zinesters implying that he quit the band out of shame and embarrassment over the SXSW incident. Now, believe it or not, gang, I happened to be there in Austin in what passed for a green room after we were escorted off stage by a kind and gentle bouncer, and I can tell you this: the drummer (come on, do you need his name? Like you even remember it!) was sitting around slapping his thighs, drum-like; the guitarist was saying it was the worst show he’d ever played because he broke a couple of strings and his guitar strap kept falling off; the bassist was shuffling around silently like Rain Man with 5 minutes to go until Wapner; and Sir Vapid III was wringing his hands, mumbling, “Where’s my messenger bag? Has anybody seen my messenger bag? I can’t find my messenger bag! Oh where, oh where could my messenger bag be?” The events that had just occurred on stage were not of the slightest concern to these purportedly sensitive and easily mortified gents. In case you miss my meaning, they couldn’t have fucking cared less.
Now, as I am as honest and trustworthy as the day is long, I will admit that the following morning, I found Vapid, along with the drummer and guitarist, in their hotel room, flustered and ashen-faced. In short, gang, they were scared. And that scared me, because while controversy is nothing new in the choppy waters of my career, bitter experience has shown me that when the crew starts panicking you’d better start lowering the lifeboats. They’d watched the label employees flip their lids the night before, and they’d looked on the Internet and had seen which way the wind was blowing. And it was no gentle breeze that was caressing your narrator’s beautiful brunette mane; it was a fetid stench cloud pouring down pure bile on yours truly. But as rattled as they were, they insisted they were going to stay the course. I even called the bassist from the airport and he assured me it was no big deal. “I’m 100% on board,” he said.
Vapid was mostly silent during our morning meeting, but before we adjourned, he piped up to declare, “I think it’s wrong to hit people.” Apparently he thinks it’s gloriously right to kick people 15 or 20 times in the kidneys when they’re already down and being hit by two other guys, or at least he did when a fan attacked me back in 1995, but I suppose “that’s different,” as people always seem to say when they’re caught talking brazenly hypocritical shit, and in any case, true to his word, every other time I got involved in a physical confrontation over the years, Vapid took off in the other direction so quick he left skid marks; I’ve only ever seen him move faster when offered a free meal. Still, I mused to myself, this was awfully funny talk coming from a guy who less than three months earlier had solemnly informed me, upon learning that you can’t actually successfully sue a guy for talking smack about you on the Internet, that he’d decided instead to kick the ever loving shit out of the guy in question, his former label owner. But I feel it’s bad form and bad business to discuss this sort of thing in front of guys who are on salary, so I held my tongue.
“Well,” you might be saying to yourself, “Maybe he was in shock! Maybe all this alleged shame and embarrassment just hadn’t yet sunk in after a mere 10 hours.” But in order for that theory to hold any water, you’d have to ignore the inconvenient fact that old Vapid then spent the next day and a half giving me pep talks about how we all make mistakes and how this was all going to blow over soon and how we needed to get right back up on the horse and how, above all, we must not under any circumstances cave into the pressure from the Internet crowd and cancel the upcoming east coast shows. He really seemed to have bounced back!
Unfortunately, by this point our manager, who was also our tour manager, had resigned, explicitly refusing to work the gigs that were coming up in three weeks; the booking agent had bailed; threats of violence were piling up; the other guys in the band had gone completely AWOL; and the label was pissed – the owner had already grown enraged with me days before Austin because he’d suddenly decided that a song on the new album was poking fun at him personally, in spite of having received a demo of the song and five others, complete with lyrics, and having signed us for a $30,000 advance (with 20K more to be paid once the first advance recoups) based on that demo. Things were looking bleak. It was clear we needed time so I canceled the east coast shows, but I kept the Chicago weekend and the west coast shows on the calendar. I advised Vapid to stop discussing the issue with the hired hands and to give me a call instead so we could start righting the ship without the spare parts sticking their noses in. And then he went AWOL himself. Nothing like snatching away the dollar signs to get old Vapid to mutiny. He was off the boat and dog-paddling away to the nearest oasis before I’d even finished the sentence.
Even so, seeing as how the whole band had assured me they had my back and were ready to forge ahead just as soon as things cooled down, you can imagine my surprise when these bold rascals broke three days of radio silence to e-mail a copy of their press release to me and my interim manager, the inimitable and indefatigable Owen Murphy, who you know as my co-host on Weasel Radio.
Well! I’m not afraid to admit that I was beside myself! Not only were they suddenly feigning shame and embarrassment over my “actions,” but their real beef, as they alluded to in the release and made crystal clear to me privately, had to do with my conduct on stage the entire evening! You know, the stuff I’ve been doing for 25 years? The “fuck you and the horse you rode in” on act? The one that Screeching Weasel fans love to love and all the other humorless twats love to hate? Oh, they were very upset! They told me in no uncertain terms that while they wanted to stay in the band, things were going to have to change, and harumph this and well-I-never that. They’d apparently decided over the course of their three-day drum circle to dress up in daddy’s clothes and start throwing their weight around.
“You trashed the label on stage!” they moaned.
“I warned them beforehand I was going to be doing my act,” I replied, “and that it was likely to result in hurt feelings, to which Chad Williams, head honcho at Fat, responded ‘I’d expect nothing less’.”
“But… but you insulted our manager and really hurt his feelings!” they sputtered.
“Our manager who encouraged me to shit-talk SXSW and blame the whole thing on him and the label in an interview I did earlier that week?” I asked. “Our manager who was sitting on the stage holding his sides in laughter while I ‘fired’ him and ‘re-hired’ him for the crowd’s amusement? Pish posh!”
Alas, they wouldn’t be deterred, and obviously I can’t have the clowns running the circus. So, having confirmed that all four of the craven worms had indeed signed the treacherous press release, I fired them unceremoniously and on the spot. “And do me the courtesy of mentioning that fact in your press release!” was my parting shot.
As you well know, fans, they did no such thing, and in fact once the press release was out and they’d been hailed as heroes for “quitting,” not one of them could muster up the testicular fortitude to mention that they’d actually been fired, much less that subsequent to their termination the slow-witted percussionist had spent several days and numerous e-mails trying to get everybody’s jobs back for them, much to the chagrin of poor Owen, who couldn’t seem to make them understand what the words “You’re fucking fired, dumb-ass” mean. Said drummer even e-mailed me to explain that now that the press release was out we were all “on a level playing field.” “Owen!” I said, “how does this idiot not understand that he’s not on the playing field at all? He’s on the bus home!”
And when the light bulb finally clicked on over Vapid’s pointy head and he realized that the goose had no more golden eggs up her business for him, did he nut up like a modern day John Wayne and take his lumps? Of course he didn’t. Come on. Leopards don’t change their spots and Danny Vapid doesn’t suddenly grow a set of gonads. No, fans, what he did, was he started giving interviews claiming to have been embarrassed over my actions at that very moment in time when he was actually pleading with me not to cancel any shows and to get back on the proverbial horse. And if he thought that little display wasn’t going to get me out of my hammock out on Cape Cod and into my Z28 back to Wisconsin, well, he was even more delusional than the time he put on a button down shirt and a skinny tie and said to the mirror, “Brother, you look good.”
Now, the reason I mention all this is because my much-needed vacation has caused many of you fans to ask whether I’ve gone into hiding, or if I’ve become hopelessly demoralized; most of you have assumed that the band split up. Normally I’d say you should’ve known better, but given the circumstances I can’t really blame you. After all, the rest of the band deliberately led the press to believe that they’d resigned, and the headlines read “Screeching Weasel quits on lead singer.”
But back in reality, I’d already replaced Vapid and the drummer, chosen from a steady stream of applicants who, to a man, noted that the chumps who “quit” were a bunch of sorry, suck-ass motherfuckers and that the ensuing display of cannibalistic fury from the torch and pitchfork crowd was a whole lot of bullshit. I wasn’t able to get a full band together to commit to the May anniversary shows by the deadline we’d set, and if I may break character for a moment, I sincerely apologize for that, although the show had been decimated by that point anyway thanks to all the gutless turds in the 85% or so of the support bands who dropped off the bill – quite a few of them choosing to grandstand by announcing it on Facebook rather than canceling with me or my management. Punk rock musicians are nothing if not cowards. I guess if you’re into seeing a band that can’t make a move without checking to see what the crowd thinks about it first those candy-asses will be right up your alley, but they’re persona non fucking grata over here at Weasel Manor, I can assure you.
And to break character again, my apology from last March was absolutely sincere, and I stand by it. I also apologized privately to my bandmates, booking agent, management and label, but almost all of them were too morally superior to me to accept my apology. Still, I stand by it. I fucked up, and if I had to do it over, I would’ve dealt with the situation in Austin in the same spirit as I did the previous 60 minutes – with humor, style and a thick dollop of good old-fashioned panache.
To those who are too good to accept my apology – I’m glad to know you’re all saints. Me, I’m still a miserable sinner but then Screeching Weasel fans don’t expect me to be perfect; they expect me to be human and honest, and the latter’s a hell of a lot more than they’re ever going to get from you holier-than-thou creeps.
To those who got all puffed up with pseudo sanctimony and threatened violence to me and my family, ho fucking hum.
To those bands who dropped off Weaselfest without bothering to inform me, and especially those who admitted that throwing me under the bus had nothing to do with what happened and everything to do with personal grudges, you’re weak sisters who will only take your shots when you have a crowd to stand behind. Guys, we all know that if the wind had blown in the other direction you’d still be hanging onto my coattails and offering to go get my coffee for me. But hey, at least you’ve scored a few brownie points with the gullible yahoos who think you’re principled for taking a stand against a guy who’d already been left for dead by that point. What a noble, courageous bunch you are!
Now the important stuff: To all the friends and family who stood by me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I owe special thanks to Jenny Choi and Joe King, both of whom passionately defended me at a time when doing so was pretty much the kiss of death. I know you two took a whole lot of shit from the chattering punk classes for that, and your loyalty and courage means more to me than I can say.
And to you fans who had my back when things looked grim, I’m well aware that I owe my career to you, and I don’t give a shit who threatens what – if you think I’m not going to be front and center to shake your hands and thank you on October 29th, you’re out of your tree. No label, no management, no booking agent – no problem. They can’t do a damn thing about the fact that you’re still fans, and I can assure you it drives them fucking bananas!
Oh yeah – for those who aren’t aware, Screeching Weasel is playing Reggie’s in Chicago on October 29th. Tickets are still available HERE. But this isn’t just a Screeching Weasel show – it’s my Independence Day and this fully extended middle finger is my flag. I’ve been silent for almost five months but now I’ve taken over this Carnival Of Schadenfreude; it’s barreling down the tracks even as I type and I can hardly to wait to take the stage again. Did you think I’d ignore all of the unmitigated bullshit that went down after Austin? Hell no you didn’t, you’re Screeching Weasel fans – you knew better. I’m embracing the chaos, and I’m giving it noogies and then I’m twisting it up into a delightful balloon dachshund for your amusement. The documentary crew will be there to record the whole spectacle so I need every true blue fan there with bells on to let all the hypocritical, sanctimonious pricks know exactly what we think of them.
So to reiterate, the band never split up for a second; I merely pink-slipped the dead weight and methodically replaced them with the meanest, leanest lineup of stand-up mofos I could find, every last one of them as disgusted as I am with this ludicrous show of puritanical finger-wagging over the past few months. The boys have been replaced by men. The ex-Weasels didn’t give a damn about what went down on stage at SXSW until the Internet told them they ought to. Then, after not giving a shit for two days, they suddenly grew a conscience. Rest assured, fans, no such weak-minded milksops are in the current lineup.
Think of it this way – I’m taking back the reins from the classless, spineless, frightened children who dragged Screeching Weasel’s name through the mud with their dishonest, ass-covering press release; and all the cheap shot cowards who kicked me while I was down are getting a horseshoe straight up the ass!
And of course the Queers will be there. You couldn’t have kept Joe and company away with a riot squad and a tank full of tear gas. We’re gonna tear the roof off that place! If ever there was a Screeching Weasel show to see, this is the one, brothers and sisters. I’m back in town, and I’m tanned, rested and ready. Now somebody go get me my fucking microphone and let’s get this thing going!