88 Fingers Louie formed in 1993 in Chicago. Now, as in earlier incarnations, 88 Fingers Louie is an often intensely personal, politically astute band. Also, the kind of band that could somehow take those two things and make them fun. When they dissolved in 1999, they were one of a handful of bands from that time period I always felt had at least another great album left in them. Thank You for Being a Friend, released by Bird Attack Records in June, proved that to be the truth. I had a chance to speak with vocalist Denis Buckley as the band was gearing up for their European tour.
Check out the interview below
Dying Scene (Brian Lawrence):88 Fingers Louie reunited in August of 2009. If someone told you then that you’d be releasing a new full length in 2017, what would you have said?
I would have said “slow down cowboy, you need to figure out if you can still get along first”. Thankfully we have.
One of the first things that struck me when listening to Thank You for Being a Friend was that it feels like a natural follow up to Back on the Streets, despite coming almost twenty years later. As a band, is your songwriting process similar now to what it was then?
I can really only speak for myself lyrically and I attempted a few different approaches this time. Before, I’d almost exclusively write lyrics and melodies after the music was done. For this album there were times I wrote as we were writing the song. I also tried not to rely too heavily on the “girl, you did me wrong” lyrics; I owned up to being an asshole where it called for it.
You guys formed in 1993. What band would you have considered your biggest influence in 1993?
Wow. Musically, for me: Goo Goo Dolls, Superchunk and Doughboys. I also was bitter about my folks splitting up. Even at 20-21. That upheaval will affect you.
In the 90’s, you released several seven inch records. Even your full lengths had vinyl releases, which wasn’t as much of a common practice then. Now, for a punk band, having physical copies of a release often means pressing records. As someone releasing them then and releasing them now, how do you feel about the odd, stubborn survival of the vinyl record?
Vinyl as a tangible product is absolutely wonderful. The record collector can be an obnoxious motherfucker. Can’t say I’m too keen on them.
You’re headed to Europe! Why do you think that continent is on the wrong side of the ocean?
To stay as far away from our political bullshit as they can. I wonder how many times we’ll have to apologize for Trump while we’re over there?
The reception to the new album has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s not easy for a band to reform after even five or ten years and release compelling music. You just did it after eighteen years. What do you attribute that to, and how does it feel?