Call and Response

By - Dec 18th, 2007 02:52 pm


As teenagers, they learned that musicians get girls. Still embracing that high school mentality as adults, The Response “keep[s] getting older,” but their fans “stay the same age,” says bassist Mikey Blanchard. More playful than pedophiliac, the four-piece has a sense of humor that will surely inspire all kinds of journalistic inaccuracy as they make press for their overdue debut LP, releasing this month.

Most show-going locals have probably seen The Response share the stage with Braid, Hey Mercedes, Coheed and Cambria, Motion City Soundtrack, or Ted Leo. Don’t subscribe to Alternative Press? Then maybe you’ll recognize the new guy behind the drum kit: Jon Kraft, formerly of Milwaukee hardcore band Since By Man. An appreciator of diverse music styles, Kraft’s transition to power pop was a “welcome change,” he says. “Plus, I don’t sweat as much.”

That’s questionable, given The Response’s notoriety for their spontaneous, high-energy shows. “We always make sure the audience is having as much fun as we are,” says Blanchard, who, with guitarist Peter Phillip, contributes profuse tandem jumping at live performances. Rendering this intensity to a full-length recording (and sustaining stamina throughout) would have been the band’s most substantial challenge, had it not been for a split with original drummer and “great friend” Jesus Zuniga. It was “a really hard decision,” the band wholeheartedly agrees, but a necessary one.

Still reeling and already halfway through the process when their supporting label went under, The Response’s only option was to finish With Friends Like You, Who Needs Enemies independently. Currently, damage control means “work, work, pay for record, work, work, pay for record, repeat,” says vocalist Steve Kerwin, a customer service rep by day. “The CD is finally done and the addition of a new member makes us even sexier,” adds Kraft, affirming that though their wallets are empty, their glasses are full (and their pride clearly intact). Between Bloody Marys on Packer Sundays, Beer School at Comet Café, ping-pong, Guitar Hero and pool, there was never much opportunity to wallow, anyway.

“As a whole, the feel and direction” of the new material will satisfy the expectations of current fans, but Kerwin insists that the band has “a few new tricks up [their] sleeves.” Their references during our interview to Apple tech support may be a better indicator of what’s to come than their high regard of Ron Jeremy. And regardless, they’ll still bring in those pretty young things. Fingers crossed. VS

You need not be in high school to party with The Response at their all-ages 8pm Turner Hall CD release show on Saturday, December 22.

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