JuiceheaD: The New Breed of Punk
We never knew how much we needed our daily dose of punk rock until Fungus became a victim of the XM/Sirius merger...in favor for a station that played AC/DC 24/7 if we remember correctly. That was the cue to say goodbye to satellite radio, but it didn't really do anything to fill the oi-shaped hole in our soul.
That's why getting a chance to hear the latest release from JuiceheaD caught us in a particularly good mood. How to Sail a Sinking Ship is a tremendous punk achievement. It's like all the things that people tried to convince us of about Rancid has finally come true.
The Chicago based band was founded from the remains of several other punk groups under the directorship of guitarist and vocalist Rob Vannice. He brings a deep, singer-songwriter quality to his brand of punk. The result turns something that would be powerful in its own right into a battle cry.
Sure, you've got your bitter break up tunes, your fist raising political anthems, and your black humor all set over guitar lines that throb and drums that know no rest, but JuiceheaD is definitely a band that isn't content to stay inside the bin for their genre.
All across the length of the album the band freely incorporates metal, rockabilly, and ska seamlessly into the songs and somehow managed to create 20 solid mini-epics. Green Day got all the hype for putting together the first punk rock opera, and How to Sail a Sinking Ship certainly doesn't have the cohesiveness that American Idiot did, but its more anarchic approach actually seems to hold the message together even stronger.
Among the choice tracks is definitely "Death to Democracy," a cutting, tongue lashing call to arms that is sure to resonate with a populace that feels like the fate of our country is controlled by forces beyond our votes. It's an amazing example of picture perfect timing and the ability of a vocalist to become a solid channel for the unrest of a nation.
Or take "Lorraine," a song that we at first took to be heartbroken ode to a departed love along the lines of Sloppy Seconds' "Veronica." At first it follows that line, but all of the sudden Vannice turns right the hell into Nick Cave and methodically tells us about holding Lorraine's head underwater. It's a jarring, frightening turn of tone that shakes a listener to the core.
Even though JuiceheaD is perfectly capable of turning out the hits on their own, some choice guest appearance really stand out. "Black Roses" features Melora Creager, and we would recognize that cello playing style anywhere. You couldn't ask for a firmer base to stand on to belt out a track. If the highs are more your thing than the lows you might appreciate "When I Fall From Grace" featuring the Punk Pipers, a bagpipe troop that contains FDNY of all things. As far as cries to heaven go, you'd be hard-pressed to find one more plaintive, beautiful, or staunchly alive.
But then again, that's true of all of How to Sail a Sinking Ship. We sat down with Vannice to ask him a few questions about the amazing album. Continue to page 2 for the interview.