Jeff Cook
Band of the Week

Avenues Proves Power of Pop Punk

The veteran Milwaukee band actually plays far more nationally than in town.

By - Jul 1st, 2016 03:45 pm
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Avenues. Photo courtesy of the band.

Avenues. Photo courtesy of the band.

Avenues is a Milwaukee-based Pop-Punk quartet founded by Vin Smith, formerly of 52Metro, in 2006 and has been together with the current line-up since 2009. They have played Summerfest, Punk Rock Bowling and Music festival, toured the country and played in Canada.

Avenues released their first EP, NOHO in 2011 and have followed up with a new one every two years since with Postcards from Ann Arbor in 2013 and Creepshow in 2015. They have played with Buzzcocks, Masked Intruder, 88 Fingers Louie, Teenage Bottlerocket, Red City Radio, Direct Hit! and many other bands.

The punk rock sound of Avenues is unmistakable with its hard, driving beat and fast, addictive rythms. I recently caught up with Smith to pose a few questions and chat about their musical heroes.

When did you begin playing music?

AVENUES originally began in 2006. But after having a difficult time puting all the pieces together, the project was put on the backburner until early 2009 when the band really got off the ground.

How did the band come together?

Our original drummer Joel Maske had been writing and recording songs with me (Vox, Guitar), and he also had been playing separately with twin brothers Shawn Brooks (Guitar) and Scott Brooks (Bass). At some point we all got together and started playing in 2008 under the band name Postcards From Ann Arbor, (which would become the title of AVENUES’ 2nd EP.)

That project fizzled out after some time. Eventually the idea of AVENUES came back into play, and everyone just started playing together again in 2009 and pretty much hasn’t stopped since.

Joel ended up leaving the band in 2015 due to some medical issues. We then welcomed our touring drummer from Austin, TX, Marc Perez on full time. Marc also plays in the Austin band Knockin Bones, so if he can’t play due to scheduling issues with that band, we have a regional drummer Lyle Brotkowski to fill in.

What are some artists that inspire you?

Descendents, Bad Religion, Ramones, NOFX, No Use For A Name, Dead Kennedys, Pennywise just to name a few. Also a lot of the old Lookout Records and Fat Wreck Chords bands from back in the day.

Where did your name come from?

It wasn’t anything special. In the early consept of the band, we had a show and needed a name.

So it just kind of happened, and AVENUES it was.

How would you describe your music?

Fast and catchy Midwest pop punk. The songs have a classic pop punk undertone to them like the Ramones, Screeching Weasel with gritty melodic vocals.

What’s your inspiration going into making a song?

Our writing process normally starts with writing the music first. After we get some vocal melodies going, that’s when the inspiration for lyrics and the storyline comes into play. It can be anything really. How you are feeling that day, something that happened to you, to your relationships…

How do you link up with other artists for collaborations?

We haven’t really collaborated with other artists. Our first EP we worked with our producer Davey Rieley on writing, but normally everything is internal.

What’s the vibe in the studio when you are recording/practicing?

It’s always a blast and everyone is in good spirits, but you might get those days when the stress of finishing by a deadline get to you. After all these years the chemistry between everyone is great.

Any local artists you really like?

Absolutely, bands like Direct Hit!, The DUIs, Assult & Batterry, The Pukes, Maritime are all pretty rad.

Do you most often play in Milwaukee?

Not really. Most of the show we do are out of state. But we do play a handful of shows in Milwaukee throughout the year.

Where else have you played/toured?

We’ve toured nationally and internationally. Most of the tours seem to be West Coast and the Midwest. We have played some pretty rad punk festivals in the US and Canada like, Summerfest, Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas, Envol Et Macadam and Pouzza Fest in Canada.

Any albums or EPs coming out soon?

Currently we are writing a new LP that will be coming out in Spring 2017. Our last EP “Creep Show,” is 7 songs on a 10-inch vinyl that was released on the Los Angeles-based record label Wiretap Records.

What are your plans for the future?

More writing, releasing music and touring mostly. Next year we are planning on heading over to Europe. It’s something we have talked about for a while, so I think it’s about that time.

Cascio Interstate Music is proud to sponsor Urban Milwaukee’s Band of the Week column. Running in tandem with their own Band of the Month program, supporting local music is key to CIM’s mission.

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