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Urge Overkill

Urge Overkill

Interviewed by
Kiran Dass
Tuesday 6th March, 2012 8:53AM

Chicago group Urge Overkill is probably best known for their cover of Neil Diamond's 'Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon' which featured in Quentin Tarantino's cult film Pulp Fiction. Last year the group released Rock & Roll Submarine, their first album in seventeen years. Eddie Roeser (vocals/guitar/bass guitar) talked to us ahead of their show tonight at Auckland's Kings Arms Tavern about being a good musician, Neil Diamond and the excesses of rock & roll.

You played in New Zealand at the first NZ Big Day Out in 1994. What do you remember about it?

Well it really was quite a lot of fun. It was the time that all the guitar bands were literally ruling the world. I remember we were partying in the room, Soundgarden was there... It really was the year of the big guitar bands. That (time for guitar bands) was a good feeling but it ended up being a short lived thing. Things changed.

I heard a radio interview with you where you said, "It's shamelessly effortless when we're on stage," and, "our shows are outrageously easy to do." So, what's the point of it for you, then? To me, "outrageously easy" sort of suggests it might be boring for you. What did you mean?

When you're a new band, it takes a long time until you don't have to think about the notes you're playing or how well you're playing them. I think that's the goal for many musicians - to get that good.

We've been playing together for quite a while, and what we do is physically quite difficult. When we get off stage, we're sweating and completely exhausted. We want it to be fun, and to look fun.

Steve Albini (who recorded the first Urge Overkill EP Strange, I... and their first album Jesus Urge Superstar) once said that Urge Overkill could barely play their instruments. I don't think that's always a bad thing. What do you think?

Who knows what Steve means. He likes to say things to get a rise out of people. You know, he's recorded a lot of bands and our playing hasn't always been as good as it is now. Our skills are technical skills. He saw us a lot in our early days. We were attempting to do things we couldn't do. We joke about it ourselves. I think that we can really play now. The alcohol was a pretty big problem for all of us at that time.

Was it?

There was so much partying back in the day, it's one of the things I regret. We were at the top of our game. When you have addicts in the band and the other guys are just as bad... (trails off). We've pulled back from the excesses now. We just really enjoy what we do, we're not doing it for the fame and glory.

Urge Overkill has covered the Neil Diamond song 'Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon'. Why did you choose that song? Were you being ironic?

It was painfully sincere. Nash (Kato, vocals/guitar)and Blackie (Johnny "Blackie Onassis" Rowan, drums) had been listening to Neil Diamond a lot. We did it more out of desperation. We were recording on a limited budget and just needed one more song. We all knew the song. Kramer (from Bongwater, and founder of the New York label Shimmy Disc) who produced and engineered the song said, "this is a hit!". It wasn't an ironic thing, though I'm sure a lot of people might think it was.

What's next for Urge Overkill?

We've been pretty slow at letting people back into the world of Urge. We've not been easily able to adapt to to the world of social media so it's been kind of tough. I think the way for us to continue is to keep doing what we're doing and do it well! We're not careerist or calculated. To me, that's real rock & roll.


Click here to get tickets to their show tonight (Tue 6th March) at the Kings Arms Tavern.


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