By Sarah Mac
CALGARY – Spring is just around the corner; sprouting new life and new beginnings. Here in Western Canada, we can’t help but think of the rejuvenation and the inevitable return of perennial punk rock favourite 88 Fingers Louie.
Hailing from Chicago, 88 Fingers Louie (a.k.a. the 88s) came together in 1993, during the confused daze of skate-punk. From the onset, the band’s hard-hitting bass lines, up-tempo riffs, catchy drums and melodic vocals made them a stand-out amongst their mumble-core peers. Two and half decades later, the 88s are still defined by their earliest releases, Behind Bars (1995) and a spate of 7-inch singles with Fat Wreck Chords. Those formative works cemented the band’s sound into the brains of an impressionable decade of fans. They still resonate after all of the inner turmoil of fragmentations and reconciliations.
“In the early days, breakups weren’t always necessarily because of tempers flaring, it was because of a lot of things. We were young, and I guess we eventually had to grow up though,” explains lead vocalist Denis Buckley. He’s found a winning formula in the company of guitarist Dan Wlekinski (formerly of Rise Against), drummer John Carroll (Paper Mice) and bassist Nat Wright (Shot Baker).
“We were together, ’93 to ‘96, ’98 to ’99 and 2009 to 2010. I look at it very fondly, but it was starting to become clear, the same stuff that sorta split us up in years past, it was starting to show those same cracks. So, I felt that we should just walk away from the band and have no one pissed-off at each other.”
There’s nothing more pop-punk than a good make-up session, so in 2013 88 Fingers Louie celebrated their 20th anniversary with a commemorative boogie call so scorching it sparked the rebirth of the band we have today.
“It was only supposed to be a 20-year reunion and we were just going to play one show. Then, I don’t think a month went by and we were asked to play a festival. Things picked up rather quickly after that, to the surprise of everyone. So, we decided to keep doing it until we hate each other again. And really, for the first time in our band’s history, we’re all on the same page. We all know what this band is capable of, but now, we know when too much is too much. And here we are, we’re entering our fifth year back together. It’s the longest this band has been together in one sitting.”
Buckley says, laughing, “So, I guess it’s better late than never.”
Hard proof they’ve patched things over, the group released their long awaited follow-up Thank You for Being a Friend in 2017 and seamlessly closed a 19-year gap in their discography.
“I think Thank You is a good blueprint for what we’re going to do in the future. We didn’t want to sound like the exact same band, but we didn’t want to be nothing like we used to be. I don’t know if we’ll release new music at the same pace as we did back then, but we want to continue doing it. It was such a cathartic release for us to put out this new album and I think it was necessary to write these new songs.”
88 Fingers Louie’s Canadian Catastrophe Tour arrives April 12 at the Venue Nightclub (Vancouver), April 13 at the Starlite Room (Edmonton), April 14 at Dicken’s Pub (Calgary) and April 15 at the Handsome Daughter (Winnipeg).88 Fingers Louie, Dickens Pub, Handsome Daughter, punk, punk rock, rock, Starlite Room, Venue Nightclub