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Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012

John the Savage Calls it a Day

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For the past five years, the off-kilter sound of Milwaukee-based John the Savage has been a constant in a scene often wracked by dramatic turnover. While the band was never exactly prolific, they did manage to record and play out on a regular basis. And even though the band’s carnivalesque approach to indie rock was anything but calm and reassuring, there was something comforting about the fact that the group was able to stick it out for so long. Sadly, this mainstay on the city’s underground music scene has decided to call it quits. They will play their last show Friday night at the Cactus Club.

John the Savage leader Mike Skorcz sounds remarkably at ease regarding the decision to end the band at this moment. “We started the band without any expectations for the future,” explains Skorcz. “We all shared the same passion to just play to play.” Over time, though, that passion became harder and harder to maintain, as it became more difficult “to balance our personal lives with the life of the band.” At the same time, band members wanted to grow musically and push their playing in different directions. “If we continued without being to give it our all,” concludes Skorcz, “we would ruin our appreciation and respect for all the hard work we’ve done.”

Thankfully, the band has released one last record, a nine-song, self-titled album they put out Dec. 21. The band has been working on these songs for the past three years and Skorcz is excited to play them one last time. “It’ll be tons of fun,” he notes. The band will also try to release the soundtrack to a feature-length film that it recently scored.

Despite the fact that Skorcz sounds ready to move on, he does admit that “it’s really going to be weird playing these songs for the last time.” Yet more than any other emotion, Skorcz’s words seem motivated by a sense of profound gratitude.  “I’m super grateful for the last five years,” he notes. “I’ve had a chance to play with some of the best musicians, for some of the best people, in some of the best places. We all appreciate the love and support we never thought we would get from great people we met and knew beforehand.” Such support will “make all of us put everything we got” into the band’s last performance. Based upon the energy level at an average John the Savage gig, Friday night promises to be quite a show.

All of this suggests that the mood at Friday’s show will be far from funereal. Skorcz is also quick to point out that two up-and-coming Milwaukee bands, Drugs Dragons and The Fatty Acids, are opening for John the Savage (Skorcz says he is “sure stoked” that these two bands are sharing the bill with John the Savage that night). The scene, in other words, will continue to remain healthy and relevant, even without his act. Skorcz also notes that he and other band members are going to start up new musical ventures in the near future. Yet such potential developments should not overshadow that Milwaukee is losing yet another of its best bands. John the Savage will be missed.

John the Savage, The Fatty Acids and Drugs Dragons play the Cactus Club at 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28.

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