Urge Overkill on the Rise Again, With a Boost from Phoenix

Posted on: May 8th, 2013 By:

By William Ashton
Contributing Writer

Few realized it at the time, but the 1990s were halcyon days for rock n roll. Even a band as hard to categorize as Chicago’s Urge Overkill could grab a major-label deal, than score a left-field hit with a Neil Diamond cover (“Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” as heard in 1994’s PULP FICTION). The irresistibly ambitious trio never quite became huge, but their big sound (power-punk meets the Stones?) and ironic look (remember their medallions?) stood out in a time of by-the-numbers grunge and unabashed pop. They toured a lot, and made some great records. The band eventually split after personal disagreements – and drummer Blackie Onassis’ heroin addiction – made it “no fun” to be in UO, according to Eddie “King” Roeser, UO’s guitarist and bassist.

But in 2004, Roeser and UO singer/guitarist Nash Kato began playing some low-key shows, leading to their first album since 1995 (2011’s ROCK AND ROLL SUBMARINE) and a new commitment to the band. Now a quartet (and without Onassis), the group plays Atlanta’s Tabernacle Thursday, May 9, opening for French group Phoenix, whose most recent album made the U.S. top 10.

Roeser says UO’s return is more of a continuation than a comeback.

ATLRetro: How did you get hooked up with Phoenix, and will their audience like UO?

Roeser: They were at our shows in Paris and New York. It was Daft Punk that turned them on to us. Phoenix are giving something back to their musical elders. They are in a position to have muscle now. And I think they are rising to international domination.

We’re not on tour, just doing a couple of shows at the request of Phoenix. We’re playing a couple of shows, then they fly back [to Europe] to do festivals. I look at Phoenix and see some things in common with UO – the team dynamic, brotherly love, and the outlandish potential, evocative lyrics that give you a sense of what the song is about but aren’t always on the nose.

Tell me about your new music.

It’s sort of a miracle it has held up for us. We started playing again long before a record materialized. We thought it would be quick work, but it wasn’t. The fear after a break was that you can’t get the sound back easily. Eventually the sound was very recognizable as Urge. The goal was more of a continuation. We weren’t reinventing the wheel. We knew we had a good wheel. We wanted to make a record that stacked with the others and did.

ROCK AND ROLL SUBMARINE fits in with your other records.

It wasn’t quite as polished as SATURATION [UO’s big-budget  1993 debut for Geffen Records]. We didn’t have the big production values; we did SATURATION to the hilt. Then we went radically the other way with EXIT. One thing about Urge records: we didn’t have a defined sound, like Weezer or something. We spread the approach song by song.

You and Nash got back together, but Blackie Onassis did not. Didn’t he stay in UO after you left in the ‘90s?

Those two [Kato and Onassis] tried to continue the band – but no records were released. Nash said I didn’t see the worst of it. If you get a dependency problem, if you end up needing heroin every day, that’s your priority. He [Onassis] was so ashamed of it, so secretive. He kinda bailed at the last minute – more than once.

When will there be a new Urge record?

We’re nearly done with kind of touching up the tracks, mixing them now. The next step is to try to get a release date. We are releasing it ourselves; a big label takes a share of the publishing and merchandizing. This is by necessity a low-key release. Our hope and expectation now are to keep our music in line with what it has always been. We aren’t making radical changes in our sound, we’re not gonna come up with gimmicks. We’re keeping it real, continuing to do what we do best.

Category: Features | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This Week in Retro Atlanta, May 16-22, 2011

Posted on: May 17th, 2011 By:

Monday May 16

Andrew & the Disapyramids

Swing to Joe Gransden, trumpet player extraordinaire, and his 16-piece orchestra and special guest Jazz Tenor sax great Skip Lane this week during Big Band Night at Cafe 290 on the first and third Monday of every month. Andrew & the Disapyramids bring back the best of surf, doo wop, Mod, soul, sock hop and all types of retro rock ‘n’ roll during a free gig at Noni’s Bar & Deli tonight. Read the Kool Kat feature on band-member Joshua Longino here. Find out if Kingsized and Tongo Hiti lead singer Big Mike Geier will croon a tune or two for tips as Monday night’s celebrity bartender at newly opened Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Parlor. Northside Tavern hosts its weekly Blues Jam.

Tuesday May 17

The Age of Aquarius rises again as HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical opens a weeklong run through May 22 at the 1929 Fabulous Fox Theatre. The legendary hippie rock opera follows a group of hopeful free-spirited young people as they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, experiment with drugs and burn their draft cards. This production won a 2009 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.

Find out and see the winners of the 2011 Mid-Century Modern Georgia Photo Contest, during a reception at Gallery See in the Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta, Building C at 1600 Peachtree Street. Photos depict buildings or sites in the state that are part of the design movement that lasted from the 1930s-1970s, and attendees also will have a last chance to view the exhibition, “Capturing an Icon: Ezra Stoller and Modern Architecture,” featuring works by the celebrated American architecture photographer.

Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland. Catch Tuesday Retro in the Metro nights at Midtown’s Deadwood Saloon, featuring live video mixes of ’80s, ’90s, and 2Ks hits.

Wednesday May 18

Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at Graveyard TavernFrankie’s Blues Mission and Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck bring on the blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack and Northside Tavern respectively. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven.

Thursday May 19

Iconic ’80s alternative and psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips play The Tabernacle. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum Lounge. Breeze Kings and Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.Bluegrass Thursday at Red Light Cafe features Bluebilly Grit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: This Week in ATLRetro | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

© 2024 ATLRetro. All Rights Reserved. This blog is powered by Wordpress