Interview: The Methadones
Dan Vapid and pop-punk music go hand in hand. Whether it’s from his time spent playing in Screeching Weasel, the Riverdales, Dan Vapid & The Cheats, or The Methadones, his influence can be heard radiating through the entire punk rock genre. With the recent announcement that The Methadones will be reuniting for a few shows this summer, we had the chance to catch up with Vapid and chat about the band’s history, those 4 upcoming shows, what he’s most looking forward to with playing in Italy and Germany, if new music is on the horizon from them, and much more!
1. The Methadones started in 1993 as your side project, but it was put on the backburner after playing only a few shows. Why do you feel the timing just wasn’t right for the band back then?
It came down to solidifying a line-up. I wasn’t finding the right musicians and during that time Ben Foster (Screeching Weasel) asked if I wanted to play in the Riverdales. I wanted to sing my own songs, so we decided we would alternate singing between the two of us. He would sing his songs and I would sing mine. Thinking my original concept for the Methadones was over, a couple of Methadones songs became Riverdales songs. Toward the end of the nineties, Screeching Weasel and Riverdales were winding down and I went back to my search of putting the Methadones back together.
2. It really wasn’t until you parted ways with Screeching Weasel in 1999 that The Methadones became your sole focus again. What made you return to that idea and how did it become exactly what you needed to satisfy your creative itch at that time?
I felt that my tribute to the Ramones (not necessarily the love) was out of my system and I wanted to pursue a different direction. By 1999, with Screeching Weasel and Riverdales seemingly over, I was ready to switch gears and move in a new direction.
3. The band released some great albums in the early 2000’s including (but not limited to) Career Objective and Not Economically Viable. When you look back on those albums now, which songs do you feel were your most well-written, and which would you change certain things about?
I wouldn’t change anything in terms of songwriting and performances. However, we weren’t very happy with the production of the first pressing of Not Economically Viable. However, we did have it remixed to vinyl which we felt better about.
4. After having a lot of success with The Methadones, the band broke up in 2010. What led to calling it quits at that point?
I think everyone in the band has their version of band burnout. Here’s mine: We were playing around 50 shows a year but couldn’t make the shift into becoming a full-time touring band. Our lives simply were not conducive in making that happen. I was still hoping our fan base would grow and often wondered, along with not being full time, if timing was also part of the equation... sometimes I felt we weren’t punk enough for what was popular at the time, and not pop-punk enough for others. Looking back, I wouldn’t have had it any other way, but wish we could have put full-time touring into the Methadones for the desired outcome. It may not have worked but it definitely would have helped. I also started to feel creatively boxed-in, as I was mostly writing songs that I thought the band would perform well. In time, it wore thin and I burned out.
5. You recently made the announcement that The Methadones were coming back for a few shows this summer (2020). Why do you feel that right now is the best time for you to re-emerge with this project?
We were asked to play a festival in Italy (Punk Rock Raduno) and I asked those guys what they thought -- and everybody loved the idea of going back to Italy. From there, we figured we might as well play Chicago and St. Louis too.
6. You mentioned that one of your shows is in St. Louis (at the Red Flag on May 29th)). Why did you feel St. Louis was the best place to start this string of shows and what can people coming out to this one expect from the setlist?
I live about a 45 minutes car ride from St. Louis in Southern Illinois. I moved to the area five years ago. Playing St. Louis and Chicago seemed logical to us. As far as a setlist goes, I’m trying to cover a little of everything from early to later; something on every record.
7. You also mentioned playing your hometown of Chicago (The Chop Shop on June 27th). It’s your first time playing in front of the hometown crowd as The Methadones in 5 years, and you’re also pulling double duty that night with your band, Dan Vapid and the Cheats opening. Do you have any surprises up your sleeve for that show that you can tease at this time?
I don’t have any surprises... I hope to fill fan’s expectations and have the audience leaving the shows happy and fulfilled. That’s my goal.
8. You also have two gigs coming up overseas in July; one you mentioned in Italy, and the other in Germany. How much different are the crowds in places like that in comparison to those stateside, and what are you most looking forward to with these shows?
In Italy, the audiences are larger and more enthusiastic than the states. I haven’t played Germany in about ten years, so I’m not sure what to expect. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and playing our songs together, Italian food and wine, the architecture and landscape. I absolutely love Italy and get to appeal to all the senses while in good company.
9. So, the big question on everyone’s minds in the wake of these show announcements; Can we expect to hear any new music from The Methadones or are these just a few shows and nothing more?
There are no plans of making new music or playing more shows, but if these shows do well and demand is there, I would be open to it. Time will tell.
10. When we last chatted with you, we asked this very question, but we always like to end our interviews with it. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with their first band today?
I would say that musical influences kickstart the creative process, but that you need to put your own interpretation into what you’re creating. I believe you do that by being authentically you.