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Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013

The Punk Vets in Go Go Slow Seek New Ground

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Forming a band from the remnants of other recognizable groups comes with a unique set of perks, as well as its own challenges. On one hand, you’ve got a prefab fanbase ready to check you out, based solely on your previous work, but on the other, those listeners may only be looking for more of the same instead of a fresh start. By contrast, Milwaukee’s Go Go Slow, comprised of a handful of members of the notorious ’90s outfit Fuckface, which was itself mostly made up of former members of The Crusties, Boy Dirt Car and Die Kreuzen, certainly have a bit of name recognition working in their favor, but also don’t really have to worry about fan’s assumptions, mainly since they already did such a good job of conditioning them to expect the unexpected.

“I suppose people could expect us to be this or that,” says Go Go Slow guitarist Dan Kubinski, also of Die Kreuzen and Boy Dirt Car, “but I don’t know, because Die Kreuzen fans for sure know that we like to try and stretch and do different things musically, and Go Go Slow has that same thing—we don’t want to step backward or do the easy thing and just do a bunch of Fuckface songs.” Rather than outside forces, it’s an inner drive that keeps Kubinski, along with bassist Tammi Wirta, drummer Paul New and singer Dave Szolwinski, forging ahead. “Just the other day,” says Kubinski, “we were trying something at rehearsal and Tammi put the kibosh on it, said, ‘That sounds like water we’ve already been treading, we don’t need to go there.’”

This, of course, isn’t a new attitude for any of them. Die Kreuzen caught plenty of flak, and garnered plenty of acclaim, for expanding the palette of hardcore in the 1980s. The Crusties, New’s original outfit, were once called “a breath of fresh air” by Jello Biafra, while the avant-garde Fuckface had four drummers and a scrap metal percussionist. When that ensemble disbanded in 1996, it left their completed debut album unreleased, not to see the light of day until 14 years later when, during some celebratory reunion performances to mark the occasion, Kubinski and the other four members who still lived in Milwaukee decided to collaborate once more. “We just had such a good time playing those shows together that we thought, ‘Why not get together and jam?’” remembers Kubinski, “so here’s Go Go Slow.”  

It was that simple love of playing together and challenging one another that kept the band together through the untimely death of original lead guitarist Dave Raeck, who passed away before Go Go Slow had the chance to debut the songs they had written live. “We weren’t sure if we were going to continue on or not,” recalls Kubinski, “but a few weeks went by and we started calling each other and decided Dave wouldn’t want us to stop.” 

That difficult decision made, the surviving members set about honing their sound—“a much more stripped down model, very basic punk rock ’n’ roll” in Kubinski’s words—with a renewed passion, fine tuning and rehearsing a live set that Milwaukeeans will be able to see, for the first time in almost six months, this Friday, Aug. 30, at the Cactus Club.

Even if you wanted to walk into the show with some ill-conceived preconceptions about what you’re about to witness, at this point Go Go Slow has provided precious little from which to jump to conclusions—just two or three demos and a lone YouTube video online (there are, however, an odd number of Japanese bands covering The Ventures’ surf tune which coincidentally shares their name), but, according to Kubinski, onstage is the way to really experience the band, particularly when it comes to intense, borderline possessed frontman Szolwinski, who sometimes surprises him in the same way they’ve surprised listeners so many times over the years. “Live, it’s a different animal,” he says, “especially with Dave, who’s an excellent singer but also an amazing performer. I mean, even I don’t know what to expect, so look out.”

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