Easily one of the best, most influential, and most prolific punk bands in Chicago history, Screeching Weasel, also managed to be one of the most enigmatic and polarizing bands as well. There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to loving or hating singer and principal songwriter Ben Weasel. Even my wife (in true teenage rock-and-roll crush fashion) once said that the only person she’d ever leave me for is Ben Weasel.
Now I first heard Screeching Weasel as a result of a mix-tape that a friend made me in 1994. It featured songs by Operation Ivy, Rancid, Sublime, Screeching Weasel, and many others I can’t recall right now. I think the SW song was “Dingbat.” I originally thought they were from California because at that time, I was only beginning to discover that Chicago even had a punk scene. What follows is a history of Screeching Weasel as briefly and succinctly as it can be told.
The first incarnation of Screeching Weasel was formed in the suburbs of Chicago in 1986 by Ben (Weasel) Foster and John (Jughead) Pierson after seeing a Ramones concert and was filled out by Vinnie Bovine on bass and Steve Cheese on drums. They cheaply recorded a self-titled album with the legendary Phil Bonnet (RIP) which was released by Chicago label Underdog Records in 1987. It was fast, brash, snotty punk rock that reeked of teenage sass and rebellion. In 1988, the band recorded and released their second album Boogadaboogadaboogada!, but by the following year Steve Cheese, Vinnie Bovine, and Bovine’s replacement Warren Fisher had all quit or had been booted from the band. The departed members were replaced by Brian Vermin on drums and Danny (Vapid) Schaefer on bass, and the lineup quickly recorded the Punkhouse EP. This (like all of the band’s lineups) didn’t last and Screeching Weasel broke up in 1989 when Vermin and Vapid quit to concentrate on their side project, Sludgeworth.
In the following years Ben played in The Gore Gore Girls and The Vindictives, but Screeching Weasel just wouldn’t die. The band reformed in 1991 with Weasel, Jughead, Vapid, and new drummer Dan (Panic) Sullivan replacing Vermin. The group (along with new bassist Dave Naked) then recorded My Brain Hurts for California punk label Lookout Records. Naked was subsequently kicked out of the band and (with Johnny Personality of The Vindictives playing bass) the band recorded their 1992 album Wiggle. Personality then quit the band to focus on The Vindictives and the four-piece of Weasel, Jughead, Vapid, and Panic recorded their 1993 (IMHO) masterpiece Anthem For A New Tomorrow which features guest appearances by Jawbreaker’s Blake Schwarzenbach and NOFX’s Fat Mike. After the album’s release (however) Ben stated that he no longer wanted to play live and shortly thereafter Vapid quit the band. Screeching Weasel then recorded 1994’s How To Make Enemies And Irritate People with Green Day’s Mike Dirnt handling bass duties. After the album was released the band broke up again.
During this hiatus, Weasel, Vapid, and Panic formed another group called The Riverdales, but (again) Screeching Weasel just wouldn’t die. Weasel, Jughead, Vapid, and Panic reformed the band in 1996 and released Bark Like A Dog on Fat Wreck Chords. Vapid and Panic both quit the band (again) and were replaced by bassist Mass Giorgini and drummer Dan Lumley (both of the band Squirtgun) and guitarist Zac Damon (formerly of Zoinks!) also joined the band. In 1998, the new Screeching Weasel recorded the Major Label Debut EP and another album called Television City Dream. Both were blistering slabs of pop-punk that despite catchy-as-hell melodies were razor sharp. In the winter of 1999 the band recorded the ironically named and looser sounding Emo during the blizzard that pounded Chicago in January and then added Phillip Hill (ex-Teen Idols) on guitar before they recorded Teen Punks In Heat in 2000. Screeching Weasel (supposedly) broke up for good in 2001.
Way back in 1999 when I still had a car with a cassette player, I made two 90 minute tapes filled with my favorite Screeching Weasel songs. The twenty tracks below don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what was on those tapes. The band has re-released re-mastered versions of a number of their early albums on Asian Man Records which you can (and should) purchase here. Maybe one day my daughter will start a Ramones-inspired band herself.
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Murder In The Brady House S/T
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Dingbat Boogadaboogadaboogada
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Punkhouse Punkhouse EP
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – The Science Of Myth My Brain Hurts
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – One Step Beyond Wiggle
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Radio Blast Radio Blast EP
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Goodbye To You You Broke My Fucking Heart EP
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – I’m Gonna Strange You Anthem For A New Tomorrow
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – 99 How To Make Enemies And Irritate People
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – My Friends Are Getting Famous Punk USA Comp.
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Suzanne Is Getting Married Suzanne… EP
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Hey Suburbia Kill The Musicians
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – You’ll Be In My Dreams Today Bark Like A Dog
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – (Nothing’s Gonna) Turn Me Off (Of You) Formula 27 EP
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Racist Society Major Label Debut EP
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Speed Of Mutation Television City Dream
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Punk Rock Explained Four On The Floor EP
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Sidewalk Warrior Emo
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Bottom Of The 9th Teen Punks In Heat
MP3 | Screeching Weasel – Every Night Thank You Very Little