Straight from the Jersey City rock zoo known as Uncle Joe’s bar, The Milwaukees are pumping their guitars and recruiting fans at their shows. With an edgy superb modern rock sound, The Milwaukees are shedding their unknown-band status and entering the realm of popularity local cult groups earn after several years of playing the scene.
Their melodic, ambitious and viscerally music is gripping with catchy pop riffs.
"We play out of town as much as possible to spread our fan base," said guitarist Jeff Nordstedt. "Jersey City is really making a name for itself, and we feel we are part of that."
The Milwaukees’ influences include rock songwriters like Lennon/McCartney and Elvis Costello, as well as early ’90s post punk and indie rock bands like Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Teenage Fanclub, and grunge gods Nirvana. Despite their emo-indie sound, The Milwaukees share an unabashed passion for classic rock. Their unique combination of melody and energy separates them from the formulaic rock bands that dominate much of the music scene.
"The Milwaukees are cool. Good dudes. I used to wait tables with the drummer at a bar in Jersey City," said Shaun Towey, booking manager at Uncle Joe’s.
Through almost four years of devouring the indie underground scene, which bands like Rye Coalition and They Fought Back have conquered, Milwaukees are following the footsteps of non-Top 40 successful Jersey groups.
"We like to say we play rock music. We like the idea of pop music, but our rhythm textures are more ambitious," Nordstedt said.
The Milwaukees will perform at Maxwell’s in Hoboken in early January for a CD release party, and they will follow up with several Uncle Joe’s dates in the new year.
Jersey City on my mind
Based in Jersey City, the band has been together since Dylan Clark (vocals/guitar) and Dave Post’s (bass) high school days in North Jersey. However, it wasn’t until Brian Stoor (drums) and Nordstedt (guitar) joined the band in 1999 that The Milwaukees found their own identity. Their debut CD Missile Command was released on local label Childlike Records in January 2000. It has since been licensed for release in Canada by Does Every Stare? Records and Boss Tuneage Records in Europe and Japan. Produced by Wayne Dorell (Tonic, Chavez), Missile Command was a remarkable debut for a developing band.
The buzz that it generated in the indie underground in cities like Toronto and Montreal led the Canadian upstart label, to knock expand the album’s distribution. Following the success of Missile, the group released the six songs EP titled The Bland Comfort of Life with Lloyd Justin. The epic anti-rock ballad quasi-concept compilation received moderate feedback, but it did capture the raw energy of the band’s live performance.
"We pullout more interesting things on stage. We try to play with different textures of guitar and vocals," Nordstedt said.
During the past few months, the band has toiled to spread their music with substantial touring in the East Coast, Canada, and parts of Europe. They have played colleges, bars, theaters, and basements. Their music has been featured in a Miller beer commercial and on MTV’s Undressed. They shared bills with Shades Apart, The Juliana Theory, The Bouncing Souls, Errortype: 11, and Pilot To Gunner, and have been nominated for several Asbury Park Music Awards in recent years. Their Maxwell’s gigs are often sold out.
However, the band is not dwelling on past accomplishments, according to Nordstedt and gang. They are constantly evolving and are hungry to expand their fan base. For their latest recording, they enlisted the services of the legendary indie-rock producer John Agnello (Jawbox, Dinosaur Jr.). The result was the 11-track collection This Is A Stickup, which was inspired by the band’s favorite records of the ’70s. Stickup is mediation on the invigorating highs and frustrating lows of life in an indie rock band. The album tries hard to evoke a cathartic experience for the listener, but it falls short on tracks like on "Angel with a Knife," and "Berlin Wall." The band triumphs with their intricate and thoughtful songs like "Without a Blanket," "Medicine Hat," and the very melodic "Jazz Is." Stickup also showcases their power and songwriting prowess and it has become the band’s best work to date, according to Nordstedt.
This Is A Stickup was released in the U.S. and Canada in April of this year. To support the release, The Milwaukees have toured locally and regionally. They spent several weeks on the road in Europe last summer, and they are in the studio finishing several new tracks for an upcoming EP. In two months they will tour the west coast, before performing in North Jersey. For concert dates and further information on The Milwaukees visit www.milwaukees.com. q