Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

The Milwaukees and Jersey Beat have enjoyed a long, fruitful relationship that stretches back to the band’s first appearance at The Saint in the early ‘00’s, including a wild night at one of the final W.E. Fests and a memorable sold-out showcase at Maxwell’s that featured a rare live appearance by The Wrens.

Last year, Jersey Beat put together a show featuring the Milwaukees and a few other local favorites at the new Maxwell's Tavern, their first show there since former owner Todd Abramson moved on. They'll be back on Saturday, May 21 for a very special performance in tribute to their late bassist Dave "Posty" Post. "A Show For Posty" will be remember Posty with a double set of songs off of Missile Command, The Bland Comfort of Life with Lloyd Justin, and This Is A Stickup. Former drummers Scott Pohlman and Brian Stoor will join Dylan and Jeff for this epic night of rock and roll. "We will tell stories, play music, share some sadness, and celebrate the music we made together," says the band. "We hope you will join us for this special night."

To help celebrate Posty's life and refresh everyone's memory about the Milwaukees, we are reposting this 2013 interview with the band:

We chatted with singer/guitarist Dylan Clark and guitarist Jeff Nordstedt and asked them what the Milwaukees have been up to.

Jeff: We’re kinda cleaning out the closet with this show, releasing an album of old stuff that never made it onto any of the other albums. Things with the band slowed down when we all started having kids, but in the last nine months or so, we’ve really started waking up in terms of songwriting, and we’re really excited again about new stuff. But the thing is, you need to let people know you’re still a band, so it’s not a shock if we suddenly come out with new material. So we thought we’d put out all these old songs we had, just so people had something new to listen to while we finish up these new songs and find the time and money to go into a studio and record them.

Dylan: That’s pretty much it. I think there might have been a point where we didn’t honestly know if we’d ever make another record, but the good thing is that we as a band are all still on the same page and we all still care about playing. A lot of bands break up because they don’t get where they want to… achieve some sort of fame or something. But we were never on that track, so we never really gave a shit. The egos of our band were such that we could remain a band this whole time and get to work on new material and perhaps record a new album soon, and in the meantime flush out the leftovers from our two American Anthem albums.

Q: Our mutual friend Dave Urbano unabashedly uses “dad rock” to describe his band Eastern Anchors, but that term has a lot of negative connotations for some people. How do you feel about it?

Dylan: I sort of reject that label only because, I don’t know, Kurt Cobain had a kid and killed himself. Just speaking for myself, we happen to be guys who have kids, but we could be guys our age who didn’t have kids and still played. I don’t think anybody in our band thinks of ourselves when we’re playing as dads in a band. We’re not pretending that we don’t have children and we’re not pretending that we’re not pushing 40, we’re not pretending that we’re twentysomethings. But at the same I don’t think any of us focus on the fact that we’re dads or on our ages when it comes to our music. Our music has always been our music, and that’s something that’s beyond having a wife and family or anything else.

Jeff: It’s funny because I was probably the worst back in the day at making fun of dudes who showed up at band practice with a car seat in the back of the car. We all did it a little bit but I probably did it the most. And then there was this shift, I had to come to grips with the question of whether rock was just a persona, and something I had to give up when I had kids, or was music just a part of me no matter what else was happening in my life? Somebody for Father’s Day recently sent me a card that said something like “Dad’s Rock,” and I thought about it and realized that I’m not a dad who rocks, I’m just a musician. There’s no way I could get rid of that part of myself even if I tried. It’s just who I am. I think that’s where we’re all at in this band.

Q: For me, the crossover point where you become a “dad rock” band is when getting out of the house and away from the wife and kids for a few hours becomes more important than the music you’re making. At that point, you might just as well join a bowling league. And knowing you guys (and Eastern Anchors, for that matter,) I don’t think either one of you feels that way.

Dylan: Exactly. If I felt like the newest song I was writing wasn’t any good, or had something missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it, I’d be fine with saying, okay, that was a good run, let’s do something else now. But I think all of us are truly excited about the new stuff we have and that’s where it’s at for us. Sure it’s fun to play a Who cover every once in a while, but it’s really about asking if your new stuff is as good as or better than anything you’ve already done? Does it feel like people who liked us in the past will look at this new record and really like it, and think, goddamn, I’m glad this band is still together and making music. Where have they been for the last few years? I love this record. That’s what I get off on. It’s really all about the experience of writing new stuff and then watching it come to life, and then seeing how people dig it.
Jeff: I don’t really know what the definition of “dad rock” is, but I think your analogy is a good one. Once it becomes more about getting out of the house than about the music, you might as well just go bowling. There’s still an ambition in what we’re doing. It’s not a careerist ambition, it’s an ambition to keep getting better and making great music. I don’t know if the word “art” has ever been applied to what we do, but to us it is. It might not be a higher art, but rock and roll is definitely our art form and it what keeps us going. Good music is something you know when you hear it, and it’s something that we respect and care about it, and want to keep doing. We appreciate that people respect what we’ve done before and all the work that went into it, and I don’t think we’d ever sully that respect but putting out a record or playing a show that wasn’t everything it could be.

Q: I’m going to throw two names out there from New Jersey, the Wrens and the Feelies. You’re approaching that tradition in the fact that you’ve been doing this so long and so consistently. Both of this bands historically have a very skewed idea of time; they do things when they’re ready to do them.

Dylan: We’ve never had a hiatus that was more than, maybe, a year or a year and a half, and those bands have had very long stretches between records and shows, but I see what you’re saying. We want to keep putting on great shows, and we want people to go home and say, you know I just saw this band I never heard of before but goddamn it, they’ve got their shit together. I remember seeing the Wrens years ago and feeling like that. Or a band like the Feelies, that’s just been around forever and their track record speaks for itself. They didn’t go out and do Skynyrd covers and were only it in for the pussy. They did it because it was important to them, and that’s us.

Jeff: I’ve always had this kind of chip on my shoulder, coming out of New Brunswick when we did… We’ve always sounded kind of mainstream-ish compared to a lot of the bands around us, and I think sometimes people misunderstand what we’re doing. They think we’re trying to be popular, and both the Feelies and the Wrens are bands that never did anything they didn’t want to do. Their only goal was satisfying themselves with the music they made. And as borderline commercial as we might sound, I know for a fact that our music is just what comes naturally to us. We’ve never thought, well, if we just do this, it’ll be a real radio hit. Sometimes we sound more like we’re trying to be a radio band than a band like the Wrens, but I promise you we’re not trying. And I hope that our longevity speaks to that. That bands that do try to write hits, if they don’t “make it” in two or three years, they can’t survive it. But since we never really cared about that, at the beginning of every day we ask, “do you still want to make music with these guys?” And the answer is always, “shit yeah.” We measure success by whether we can write a good song today, or whether we can play a great show and excite a crowd. As long as we’re doing that, we’re successful.

Dylan: It’s really been to the detriment of us making any dough over the years, but any time a record label or a manager or whoever has come along wanted us to change something, we were immediately like, “fuck that, we’re not doing it.” That’s what our attitude has always been, and you know what? It’s never made us any money, but we’re still getting together once or twice a week and making music together after all these years, and that’s more important than to me than having to suck some guy’s dick just to get your song on the radio. I just don’t care enough. Or rather, I care too much about the music to put up with any of that other stuff. And I don’t know if that’s just a cop out on my part, but really, any opportunity I’ve ever had , I’ve managed to sabotage it. That’s just what I do.

Q: Let’s talk about the fact that we’re doing a show at the new Maxwell’s Tavern together. There’s been a certain amount of pushback from some old-timers who don’t like the new management using the name Maxwell’s. My take on it has always been this: Todd and Dave chose to sell the place. They didn’t get kicked out, they decided that they didn’t want to run a business in Hoboken anymore. So as far as I’m concerned, they don’t get to have a say about what goes on there. I can’t for the life of me see how it’s in anybody’s best interest for the new owners to fail, when the alternative is to have a viable venue for live original music in Hoboken. So let’s air this out. How do you feel about it?

Jeff: I read one interview someplace (in the Hoboken Reporter – ed.) where the new owners were complaining about some of the criticism he’d been getting from the old fans and he sounded off about the old place with what was some pretty nasty stuff. They were saying that the place was a dive and your feet would stick to the floor… And it bummed me out that they would say something like that and still have the world “Legend” in their new logo using the same name. You can’t call the place a legend in your signage and then talk about how the place was a dive. Clearly there was always going to be some resentment from the old crowd but the best way to get through would have been to just keep your head down and not put your foot in your mouth. So at first we said as a band that we weren’t going to deal with that. What Maxwell’s was meant too much to us for that to happen. But then as time went on and I saw the place start to pick up with original music again, I started sniffing around and I ended up talking to Stephen Bailey about it. And I got more comfortable with it when he told me told that the new owners brought in real, legit live music people with long track records in Hoboken, who care about music and care about doing it right. And they’ve turned the music side of it over to them. They’re not trying to be the old Maxwell’s, because that would be impossible, but they’re also not going to exploit bands. They’re going to pay them fairly and treat them well and put in a really good sound system. So to me that just seemed like a clean slate. They’re treating bands well, they’re not saying those bad things anymore. Let’s give it a shot and judge it as a new place with a familiar address and see what happens. So that was the decision I came to, and that was the advice I gave to the rest of the band.

The Milwaukees, will perform at Maxwell’s Tavern (1039 Washington St. Hoboken) on Saturday, May 21. Doors are at 8 pm and admission is $10.
 is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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