Cities #7: Chicago (Joe Sowinski / The Static Age)

Foto: Adina Popescu

Foto: Adina Popescu

Die Musikszene aus Chicago und dem näheren Umland hat schon viele großartige Acts hervorgebracht. Man denke an Rise Against, Into It. Over It oder zuletzt The Sky We Scrape. Es gibt aber auch viele Bands, die aus der Stadt am Lake Michigan kommen, die eigentlich viel mehr Aufmerksamkeit verdient haben. Eins dieser verborgenen Highlights hört auf den Namen The Static Age.

Die Post-Punk-Band wurde zwar ursprünglich in Burlington gegründet, mittlerweile leben jedoch alle Bandmitglieder in Chicago. Wenn die Band nicht gerade in Europa tourt (das hat sie in den letzten Jahren sehr ausgiebig), nimmt sie wundervolle Platten auf. Das Erstlingswerk „Neon Nights Electric Lives“ wird im März endlich wieder- veröffentlicht und ist dann auch erstmals auf Vinyl erhältlich. Wir haben uns den Schlagzeuger Joe Sowinski geschnappt und uns von ihm erzählen lassen, was das Besondere an der Stadt Chicago ist.


Since when do you live in Chicago?
I’ve spent my entire life between the suburbs of Chicago, and the city of Chicago itself. The city has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve lived on Chicago’s southwest side with my girlfriend for the last 5 years. I also spent about 5 years of my childhood in the same neighborhood I live in now.

Was moving away ever an option for you?
Sure, after college I probably could have moved to any number of places if I really wanted to. But I have always felt at home in Chicago. There is really no reason for me to leave.

So what do you think makes Chicago so special?
Personally, I think everyone who lives in Chicago has their own idea of what makes it special. That’s what makes it such an interesting place. Everyone has their favorite spots and neighborhoods. My idea of Chicago probably varies greatly from that of someone who lives on the opposite side of town, or in one of the nicer or rougher neighborhoods. The winter is brutal, but summer by the lake is like no other. There are frightening parts of town, but there are beautiful parts of town. It’s a very real place. It keeps you grounded, but it also inspires great art and a great sense of community.


So how do you think that growing up and living in Chicago affected you as a musician?
Chicago is traditionally known as a blue collar town, so a strong work ethic goes beyond the day job. It carries over to hobbies, such as music. Practicing the drums to me was as important as any subject in school, if not more. And the beauty of it was, I simply loved it. I learned to love the labor of practice, and the physicality of drumming.
As I got older, there were a handful of local bands that got some major label attention, however in the scene I grew up in, there was very little mainstream attention. So it was basically friends playing music for friends. We weren’t the “coolest” bands in the Chicagoland area, but we were arguably some of the best musicians in town because we took the craft seriously. It was a labor of love, and it still is for me.

Do you have a favourite band that originated in Chicago?
Naked Raygun. They are one of the first punk bands out of Chicago. They’ve influenced a number of artists from Alkaline Trio to Dave Grohl. They are normal guys who make incredible music on their own terms. They are still active to this day.

Foto: Dan Lambert / Aswell Productions

Foto: Dan Lambert / Aswell Productions

Do you habe a favourite venue to play or to watch shows?
My favorite venue to watch a show at is the Metro. Favorite to play would be Beat Kitchen.

I know that you are a supporter of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. What role does soccer play in a city with so many sport teams?
The Chicago Fire is one of the few sports teams in Chicago where you truly feel the organization cares about it’s fans. The supporters section is like a giant family. There is a true sense of community at a Fire game that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s still not very popular over here, but the people who check out Fire matches are part of what I would consider one of the best kept secrets in town. It’s been a steady climb, and I hope it continues to grow. Not to mention, it’s cheaper entertainment than a Blackhawks, Bears, or White Sox game.

Speaking of best kept secrets, do you you have a favourite place in Chicago?
Too many to list.

Is there a song, record or movie that you think describes the city perfectly?
I think the movie High Fidelity represents certain locations in a fun and positive way. If you listen to a Lawrence Arms album you’ll probably hear a half-dozen Chicago references that will make you feel at home. There are a few romantic comedies out there that paint a very inaccurate portrait of the Chicago I know. Those are amusing…Sorry, I kind of danced around your question. It’s hard to pick a definitive song or movie.

If you were given the task to create a slogan for Chicago, what would it be?
“Welcome to Chicago: Relax, we’re not all trigger happy maniacs.”