Frightening World of The Scaries
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: Sept. 25, 2002
w/Cursive, Doris Henson, The Gymnastics
Saturday, Sept. 28
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).
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.
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).
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."
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
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."
go to band practice every day, all week long, one day with
The Scaries, the next with Dresden."
were there to see the horror-punk band that opened the show,
so we took off our shirts and played a bunch of Metallica
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
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,
Published in The Omaha Weekly Sept. 25, 2002. Copyright © 2002
Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.