If you're a fan of punk music, then you are likely a fan of The Lawrence Arms. Scene Point Blank corresponded with vocalist/guitarist Chris McCaughan about the current happenings with the band as well as the events of this year's Fest.
Scene Point Blank: We're a little bit late, but The Fest is coming up very soon; what are you most excited for this year? Any specific bands your psyched on seeing?
Chris McCaughan: Ahhhh..The Fest. Well, now that it's actually over I'm excited to see The Sidekicks (missed 'em), um, The Copyrights (they were great from what I remember) and Cobra Skulls (awesomely awesome), and A Wilhelm Scream (missed them too). I guess I was most excited for the free beer and the beards and the hangovers and, um, seeing my friends.
Scene Point Blank: You're vehemently against things like the Warped Tour but you played Riot Fest and have played The Fest several times; what is it about those shows that make them so different?
Chris McCaughan: This is pretty far fetched. Those 'fests' are really not in the same universe as Warped Tour. Yeah, I get it, they're big shows with lots of bands but I think the similarities end there. The Fest isn't exactly a corporate county fair. The biggest difference though is that the Warped Tour has more eyeliner, goatees, and is totally and completely bro-tastic. Ya know what, I don't spend any of my time thinking about this shit anymore. Who gives a shit about the Warped Tour? Not me. It couldn't have less to do with what we do. Yeah, sure we've vocalized our distaste here and there but ultimately who really gives two shits. Riot Fest was fun and The Fest was comprised of a lot of our friends and, really, is nothing like the Warped Tour. I can't even believe I'm answering this question.
Scene Point Blank: Aside from touring here and there things in the Lawrence Arms camp have been quiet. What's the good word with Chicago's finest? Is there a new release on the horizon? We don't want you pulling a D4, leaving listeners six years without an album.
Chris McCaughan: Well, you know, we're kinda taking things in stride. We played a couple of shows recently, which is something. Umm, we've even played a new song here and there., so there's that. I'm not making any bold statements about the future. I imagine we'll make a record when the time is right. I'm not in any position to forecast when that will be.
Scene Point Blank: Has the touring/writing schedule slowed down since Brendan has become a father? Does this mean less drinking for him?
Chris McCaughan: We were slowing down anyway, but I guess they coincide nicely. Less drinking for him? What kind of question is that? If you've ever had a kid you know that it means way more drinking, like chugging 151 first thing in the morning, not to mention the crack smoking, the acid dropping, the meth snorting. Anything to raise a healthy, well-adjusted baby.
Scene Point Blank: A number of bands have songs about hometown pride, but you have an exceptional number of songs involving Chicago and the surrounding areas. What makes it so great?
Chris McCaughan: October. The winter. The summer. The neighborhood festivals. The hot dogs. The bars. The people. The duck-fat fries. The lakefront. The architecture. The Cubs. The Art Institute. My family. My friends. The wind. Did I mention the winter?
Scene Point Blank: Forgive me if my wording is flawed, but a lot of your songs are very ephemeral, emotionally caught up in fleeting moments, but you never come off as a kitschy mall-punk band. You have a lot of grit and despair in your songs. They remind me of a lot of the short fiction popular in the seventies in eighties: beautiful but almost because they are heart wrenching. Both you and Brendan have songs of that fashion. Can you speak a little of where that comes from?
Chris McCaughan: I don't know, man. It comes from a passion for books and stories and words. We like that kinda shit: fleeting, heart wrenching, fuck it all moments. It probably has something to do with where we come from and what kind of art and books and music turned us on as kids and young adults. Writing songs is about trying to capture a fleeting moment, whether it's desperate or heart wrenching or recalls a fondness for something; it's about painting a picture of a moment in time. That's what all good short fiction does. It defines a specific moment but speaks to a greater idea or struggle for understanding in some way or something.
Scene Point Blank: You're all in your thirties or very close to it, taking your age as a band and as individual members into consideration, how has your approach to the band changed over the years? Has your outlook or objective for the band changed?
Chris McCaughan: Nah. Just trying to have fun, write some cool songs, hang out, and get a chance to play some shows; do some fun stuff. Ten years has circled back to where we started, just like hanging out and playing music together.
Scene Point Blank: What are some of the smaller bands of the Chicago area that people should be paying attention to?
Chris McCaughan: I'm pretty tuned out but The Brokedowns are cool. That band Rule 22.
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