Interview: Tim Rogner of Hot Alice/Allister

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The Chicago pop-punk scene was exploding in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s and Allister was at the forefront of it. Allister, led by Tim Rogner and Scott Murphy, had already started carving out a strong following, but their 2002 album Last Stop Suburbia and the single “Somewhere On Fullerton” that took everything to a whole new level. The years that followed gave us Before The Blackout, a resurgence in Japan that’s included releasing new Allister music, and several side projects including Tim’s latest band Hot Alice. We recently had the opportunity to chat with Rogner about Hot Alice and their new EP Scandals and Animals, Allister’s recent compilation album 20 Years and Counting, the Chicago punk rock scene, and much more!

Music Video: "The Good Life"

1. Your latest project Hot Alice released a new EP Scandals and Animals in August (2019). Tell us a little bit about it. What can people expect from it?

This EP was a labor of love. We’ve had these songs written for almost 6 years and the recording process took roughly 4 years to complete, for a variety of reasons. In the end we recorded, edited, and mixed everything ourselves (except the drums). There were certainly some painful points along the way, but we also had a lot of fun and can honestly say we did everything exactly how we wanted to. People can expect a raw but very real record that sounds good but not overproduced or super polished.

2. People will obviously recognize you (and Chris) from Allister. In comparison to what they’ve heard from Allister’s music, in what ways is Hot Alice different, but also how is it going to have a similar feel?

I think the Hot Alice songs have the same catchy, pop vibe that people may recognize from Allister, but I’d say these songs are more mature. If you think of Allister as a 17-year-old kid navigating his way through the maze of adolescence, Hot Alice would be the mid-20’s older brother who has now made it through and sees the world through a slightly different lens. The songs are certainly more personal. I’d even go as far as to say that the lyrics to these songs are some of the most honest and most vulnerable that I’ve written. 

3. For those folks that haven’t given the EP a listen yet, which one song would you suggest they listen to first in order to get an overall feel for what they can expect from the rest of the EP?

There’s a song on the EP called “The Good Life” and that would probably be a good starting point. 

4. What is your personal favorite song on the EP and why?

That’s a great question. I like them all for different reasons, but I think the one that sticks out is “Jimmy Legs.” It was actually the very first song I wrote for Hot Alice and the first song I ever wrote based on a “guitar riff.” I knew when that song was written that I had to start a new band around it. I hear it as a little more “rock ’n roll” which is exactly what I was going for.

5. You also released a very limited edition of the EP on 10” vinyl. How did the idea to release it on vinyl come about and what extras (if they aren’t already sold out) can fans get with the vinyl that the CD version doesn’t give them?

Yeah, the 10” vinyl was our new drummer, Chris’s idea. He thought it would be cool to have something very limited to sell and promote at shows and he was absolutely right. We only pressed 30 of them so they are VERY rare. They come with handwritten lyrics to one of the songs. Plus, it’s vinyl, which is cool by itself. Our friend Faye (@luminauts on IG & Twitter) designed the artwork for us.

6. Switching over to Allister; You celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of You Can't Do that on Vinyl with the compilation album 20 Years and Counting. Why is this new compilation a must have for the collection of any Allister fan?

The new compilation 20 Years and Counting is a must have because it’s a one-stop shop for all your favorite Allister songs. It covers our entire 20-year career and we re-recorded and re-imagined a few of the VERY old songs, so it offers something other than just a compilation of old songs. Plus, there are 4 BRAND NEW tracks on it!!

7. You also filmed a new video for “Somewhere On Fullerton” at Chicago’s Fireside Bowl. What was it like being back in the venue as it is now, that for long was a staple for the Chicago punk rock scene? Do the walls radiate history the same way that CBGB’s did or how The Ryman Auditorium does in our hometown of Nashville?

I gotta say that shooting a video at the Fireside was surreal. That place holds so many memories for me. It’s been cleaned up significantly since the mid-90’s when I used to go there regularly - the ceiling tiles aren’t falling down, the walls have been repainted, and a trip to the bathroom no longer comes with a diagnosis of Hepatitis C. It doesn’t quite have the same vibe that it used to, unfortunately. But it’s not so different that it didn’t bring me back. It most certainly did.

8. Another pop-punk band from Chicago, Showoff, recently celebrated the anniversary of their self-titled album with a reunion show and a brand-new album. Is something similar to that in the works in the next few years (2022) for Allister’s monumental release Last Stop Suburbia? Why may it happen or why may it not?

We haven’t actually talked about a reunion show for Last Stop Suburbia yet. We did a 10-year anniversary show for that record back in 2012 and it was amazing. My guess is we’ll do something similar again. It’s difficult for us to get together since Scottie lives full time in Japan. We’re actually working on putting a new album together to possibly release late next year. Right now, we’re just in the writing/demo stage and we’ll have to see what everyone’s schedule looks like, but it’s certainly a possibility. We’ve had some success releasing records in Japan over the last few years, so we’d like to continue that.

9. You’ve been rooted in the Chicago punk rock scene throughout your entire career. How have you seen that local scene evolve and change the most, for better or worse, throughout the years?

Being older and having kids and a full-time job has made it harder to stay as active in the Chicago scene these days. But I loved that there were SO many good bands. Everywhere you looked you could find good bands. I think it’s that hard-working, blue collar Chicago attitude. People here just want to make good quality rock and roll. 

10. We’re all about helping the next generation at, so we always end all our Q&A’s with this question. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with their first band today?

The best advice I can give to someone just starting out is to play anywhere and everywhere. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Playing live music and creating art is the greatest thing in the world and you should absolutely do it as often as you can for whoever wants to listen. Also, don’t ever get discouraged if only 2 people show up to see you play. You never know if one of those people will be the one who can help take your band to the next level.


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