Enough about how Eau Claire native Justin Vernon, frontman of indie-folk band Bon Iver, has turned the nation's attention to Wisconsin musicians. That's so 2007. Wisconsin punks have earned coast-to-coast recognition over the past few months, from Milwaukee's Direct Hit! landing in Alternative Press to Madison's Masked Intruder getting signed by Fat Wreck Chords, a label founded by NOFX's Fat Mike. Even Jetty Boys, a poppy trio from humble Sheboygan, have performed at big events like Insubordination Fest.
All three groups will play Wisconsin Punk Fest at the Majestic Theatre Friday, Jan. 11. I chatted with Direct Hit! singer-guitarist Nick Woods and Jetty Boys singer-guitarist Drew Fredrichsen before the show.
Though pop-punk has endured for more than 30 years, it sometimes gets a bad rap. What makes it relevant in 2013?
Woods: Bands that strip pop music down to two, three or four chords and a hook - old dudes like the Ramones or Screeching Weasel, or new dudes like Japandroids or the Thermals - are the ultimate bullshit detectors when it comes to pop music. They're a great reflection of what people in a given time period enjoy, because they get rid of all the fat that's a distraction. I think that's as relevant in 2013 as it will be in 3013.
Do you avoid the term "pop-punk"?
Fredrichsen: I prefer "fun punk."
You've recorded lots of 7-inch splits with other bands. Why did you choose this format?
Fredrichsen: Fans of other bands that we're friends with will hopefully find out about us and vice versa.
Woods: It's also cheaper in the short run to record two songs [rather] than 12, and it's easier to write material for a couple of splits each year. We just can't put together enough quality material that quickly between school, jobs and significant others, even though we try.
What's next for Direct Hit! and Jetty Boys?
Fredrichsen: Jetty Boys have a bunch of material ready for a full length we want to put out in 2013.
Woods: Us, too, and we're hoping to tour a bunch behind it. But we'll see. Shit always hits the fan when you least expect it.