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The Scaries with King Kong

The Frightening World of The Scaries

 
story by tim mcmahan


 

 

 

Lazy-i: Sept. 25, 2002


The Scaries
w/Cursive, Doris Henson, The Gymnastics
Saturday, Sept. 28
Sokol Underground

 

There were two problems when it came time to interview bassist Matt Tomich of North Carolina punk band The Scaries. First and foremost -- I hadn't heard their new CD, Souvenir, which is slated for release in October and is the reason why the band is playing in Omaha twice in one week (at The Farnam Street Sept. 25, and with Cursive at Sokol Underground Sept. 28).

The other problem was Tomich's cell phone, which disconnected at least eight times as the band rolled in their van through rural Kansas on their way to a gig Sunday night in Garden City. Once our connection was reestablished, Tomich, always the gracious interviewee, started off right where we were cut off, as if nothing happened.

The interrupted topic this time 'round: North Carolina's incestuous music scene. Tomich is a living example of it, seeing as he's also a member of Sorry About Dresden, another Chapel Hill punk band (who's last CD just happened to be released on Omaha's Saddle Creek Records label).

"North Carolina is incestuous, yes, but Omaha is worse," said Tomich, who should know since he grew up in Omaha before moving to the Chapel Hill. "When you're talking about Omaha, basically you're talking about Saddle Creek. And all those bands have been in each other's bands at some time. Look at how many people in The Faint were in Commander Venus, and how many of those guys were in Cursive. North Carolina's bad, but not as bad as Saddle Creek."

 

 

 

Other than just being bigger population-wise, Tomich said North Carolina has two things going for it that Omaha doesn't: A better club scene ("People who run the clubs in North Carolina are very nice. It's not the typical rock club scene where the owners are jerks.") and a longer history in the national limelight. While Omaha's enjoying its share of attention these days, bands like The Connells, Corrosion of Conformity and The dBs were cutting it up in North Carolina in the '80s followed by Superchunk, Polvo, and Archers of Loaf in the '90s. The new breed, bands like Sorry About Dresden and The Comas, continue to enjoy a constant stream of support, which has helped keep the North Carolina club scene alive and kicking.

Among the bigger local club draws is The Scaries. Tomich joined the band a year and a half after it formed in 1997, eight months before he also joined Sorry About Dresden. "The bands kind of grew up around each other," he said. "Four years later, both have grown and taken up my life."

With bandmates Matt Danser, drums; Mike Magarelli, guitar, vocals; and Bill Fischer, guitar, The Scaries have garnered a reputation as an all-out power punk outfit in the vein of Hot Water Music and Alkaline Trio, thanks to plenty of national road work, constant East Coast gigging, and even a tour of Japan.

While you can't find Souvenir, released on Law of Inertia Records, at your local music store (copies will be available at the shows), anyone with web access can get a taste of the new CD from the band's Web site. The featured track, "Counting Scars," is pop-punk bordering on hardcore, sort of like, well, North Carolina's Superchunk, Jawbreaker and Omaha's own Desaparecidos.

Recorded at The Jam Room in Columbia, South Carolina, the CD was mixed by two wily rock veterans, Ronny Cates, formerly of Christian rock band Petra, and Darren Nufner of '90s power pop band Less Than Jake. "We tried to be as perfectionist as possible," Tomich said. "It was mixed twice before we sent it to those guys. Third time was a charm."

 

The Scaries -- Souvenir CD Art


"I go to band practice every day, all week long, one day with The Scaries, the next with Dresden."


 

The Scaries lost on Highway 666


"People were there to see the horror-punk band that opened the show, so we took off our shirts and played a bunch of Metallica songs."


 

The Scaries will tour through mid-October, returning to Chapel Hill just in time for Tomich to record a new CD with the guys from Sorry About Dresden. How does he balance life between the two bands?

"I go to band practice every day, all week long," he said, "one day with The Scaries, the next with Dresden. One band is always on tour when the other isn't. It's like living a schizo life or having more than one girlfriend -- when something goes bad with one, you can always run to the other."

Both bands have enjoyed their share of success. "Which of the two is more popular depends on who you ask, they do better in different ways," Tomich said. "Sorry About Dresden does well critically, whereas The Scaries, because it draws a younger audience, sells a ridiculous number of T-shirts."

Apparently not in Texas. "We played a show in Houston that wasn't well promoted. People were there to see the horror-punk band that opened the show, so we took off our shirts and played a bunch of Metallica songs. It went over better than our stuff would have."

On the other hand, their tour of Japan last summer was a surprising success. "A Japanese label called Not Superstitious put out our last record there and the label asked us to come over and play some shows. We had no idea anyone had even heard of us in Japan. We did 12 shows in 14 days and the clubs were packed."

So I guess The Scaries are, as the expression goes, 'Big in Japan'?

"You could say that, yeah."


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Published in The Omaha Weekly Sept. 25, 2002. Copyright 2002 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.