The show wouldn’t be the same without a local weather report, so right off the bat, Bobby the meteorologist asks for an oral account on the state of precipitation in the area encompassing Ben’s hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Ben responds that he is enjoying a nice sunny day overlooking his cattle grazing in the Alfalfa fields. Who knew that Ben Weasel was a farmer!?
Ben interrogates Bobby about his decision to employ a homeless person as a model for his T-shirt company. Bobby reveals how he first met “the bum”, who was living inside of Penn Station, when Bobby first moved to NYC. Bobby, who was managing a cell phone kiosk, thought it rather ironic that a bum would have a cell phone, so he struck up a friendship with the man. Ben commends Bobby on his humanitarian efforts, when Bobby admits to housing and employing “the bum”. Ben concedes to feeling like “a heel” for trying to make a joke about it. Intrigued by the new-found thought of employing bums as T-shirt models, Bob suggests to Bobby that maybe he should consider publishing a calendar as a way to support the homeless on a more regular basis, which Ben wholeheartedly agrees upon.
While on the subject of T-shirts, Bobby bounces an idea off of Bob and Ben: “What about a “mash-up” tee, depicting the recently deceased B.B. King as G.G. Allin (B.B. Allin) - complete with poo and tattoos?” In unison, Ben and Bob both agree that it is way too soon for that much poor taste, but that King’s heirs should be entitled to some of the profits if that were to happen.
Like a kid at Disney World, Bobby cannot contain his excitement as he gleefully tells Ben that not only did he purchase Baby Fat Act 1 from iTunes on the day of its release, but that he has listened to the entire offering three times already. Ben explains the general concept behind his punk rock opera, which is played out by many singers and complete with a libretto - but for a more comprehensive breakdown of the characters and plot, please read Ben’s exclusive interview with the Italian magazine, Tempi. Baby Fat is based on the opera, Rigoletto, which Bobby admits to watching the Luciano Pavarotti version online earlier in the afternoon after not being able to find a cassette deck to play his Italian grandfather's audio version.
The conversation turns to crowdfunding. There’s a common misconception in the “record business” about artists who “beg” for money from their fans, but Ben justifies his use of crowdfunding to finance his operatic masterpiece by comparing it to nothing more than a glorified pre-order, but without the recoupable advance from the record company. He also states that crowdfunding is really a tool in-line with the old standby D.I.Y. ethics of yesteryear. The artist maintains control by doing everything for his or herself; therefore, cutting out the middle-man, which benefits the artist in terms of receiving larger royalty percentages as well.
After nearly 30 years of playing punk music, Ben proclaims that punk bands will always shoot themselves in the foot, based on their misguided principles. He goes on to point out that most of them spend too much time, himself included, apologizing for their actions and what they say; meanwhile, Bob is preparing to play a new track from Chicago’s The Copyrights, who Ben declares “complete douchebags” who “can certainly dish it out, but [they] can’t take it”. Ben continues by stating sarcastically that ska/punk music died out in the 90’s. Bob mentions that musical styles tend to run in cycles and that maybe there will be a resurgence in the genre sometime in the near future, which Ben is quick to dismiss.
Ben inquires about the origins and operations of Dying Scene, asking if it is corporately owned, or indeed run by a team of fans and writers. Bobby compares it to a grass roots operation. Ben goes on to say that if it was corporately owned, he wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with it, reminding everyone that, after all, Screeching Weasel is incorporated too. Weasel continues by telling a story about another popular online news gathering website, leveraged by investors and bought out without informing their staff of contributors, the result of which being one person walking away with a huge cash-grab and then going into seclusion.
Ben tells the story of how he met Bob’s mutual friend, ex-Pink Lincolns frontman, Chris Barrows. The two used to trade their respective bands’ cassettes through the legendary punk periodical, Maximum Rock and Roll, and the US Mail. Ben explains how he had Chris in mind when coming up with the Zannoni character on Baby Fat, elaborating further about what a great job Chris did on the record, singing “God Damn You” in a key that is normally not in Chris’ wheelhouse. Ben discloses that Chris is his oldest friend, not in age, but in longevity. Bob deadpans that Chris is his oldest friend, not in longevity, but in age... On a sidenote, Bob played all of the guitars on Chris Barrows’ 2014 debut solo album Human Being. One notable track on the record is “Not It”, which happens to feature vocals by none other than Mr. Ben Weasel himself. Go find it on iTunes!
Honestly, this synopsis could go on forever. The three blather back and forth relentlessly for over an hour about woman-punching, the current state of the music industry, Ben’s jaded self-interested in his own music, his predilection for Taylor Swift and the Frozen soundtrack, which is a clear indication that Weasel either has a daughter (or really bad taste in music), how PEARS were more than likely manufactured in a corporate board room by guys in suits with pie charts, the political predispositions of a fat, drug-riddled record executive who should stick to writing songs about “boobs and doing blow”, and how Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, who Ben remembers as “Lint”, finally found his voice. To know what else landed in Weasel’s cross-hairs, you’ll simply have to listen to the episode.
“Kids...stay in school. Stay off drugs. And, eat your vitamins.” - B.Wizzle
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST
Screeching Weasel - God Damn You (with Chris Barrows)
Dead On A Friday - A Reasonable Guy
The Copyrights - Slider
The A-Ok’s - Thrash Skank Thrash
Sniper 66 - Warriors Way
Head Creeps - Come On In
Haken - Anaphylactic Shock
Wasted Potential - Cumlords
Free Sergio - So Far Yet So Close
Upinatem - The Balls On This Guy
Freya Wilcox and the Howl - Bury Me
Dying Scene Radio is now on iTunes! (Please: Download. Listen. Subscribe. Share with your fellow punks. Rate the show. And leave an opinionated comment about Bob’s hosting abilities). DSR can also be heard LIVE each and every Friday night at 9PM EST on Real Punk Radio.
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This week’s sponsor is FAT ENZO. Help us feed and clothe the homeless!