Urge Overkill are nuts about Neil Diamond and All My Children



By Steve Newton

Urge Overkill and my mom have quite a lot in common. My mom doesn’t travel around the country wearing cool outfits and wigging out to hook-laden rock tunes. But I’ll tell ya one thing—she sure loves watching All My Children on the tube. And when the members of Urge Overkill are on tour, they hate missing Erica Kane in action, too.

“If we have a long drive, sometimes we miss it,” says guitarist/vocalist Nash Kato from his Chicago home. “But the only real obstacle between us and All My on the road is the maids that come in. Usually, checkout time is right when it starts, so we hang on as long as we can until, like, the maid SWAT commando moves in and literally clears us out of the room.”

Urge Overkill was so taken by Susan Lucci’s TV character that they named a song after her and put it on their recently released CD, Saturation.

“She’s been the show’s sexy lead heroine since 1970,” says Kato (his real name, not taken from the karate-kicking chauffeur of TV’s Green Hornet). “We’ve been plugging the show in interviews in hopes that some hipster down there will pick up on it and say, ‘These guys are really into All My Children; let’s use them on the show.’ It’s never happened, so we had to write the song.”

Until the budding soap-opera stars in Urge Overkill get their noon-hour moment of cathode-ray glory, they’ll continue to churn out the masterful pummel-pop that made indie LPs such as Americruiser and Supersonic Storybook underground gems, and they’ll also stay on the road that brings them to the Town Pump on Wednesday (August 25). The band’s current success with Saturation owes much to the production talents of the Butcher Bros., best known for their work with hip-hop recording acts.

“We’ve all listened to hip-hop,” says Kato, “and we’ve always enjoyed—we’ve always loved—the work that they [the Butcher Bros.] had done with Cypress Hill and Schooly D. We put out, like, four or five quote-unquote ‘rock records’, and we’d run the gamut of indie-rock producers. We thought this would be a refreshing change, and it paid off.”

Hip-hop fans or not, Urge Overkill makes music these days that owes a lot more to AC/DC than Kriss Kross. Saturation is just loaded with melodic, riff-driven pop-rock tunes that come to brash life in the hands of Kato, bassist/vocalist “Eddie” King Roeser (distant relative of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don Roeser), and drummer/vocalist Blackie O.

“I always think of Saturation as like a little jukebox,” says Kato, obviously pleased with the major-label debut. “You know—it’s got, like, six A-sides and six B-sides, and as with any decent jukebox, the B-sides are often as good if not better than the A-sides. But all your favourites are on there, and depending on what mood you’re in, that’s the number you punch.”

The number yours truly has been punching most often on the trusty Saturation jukebox is track 6, “Bottle of Fur”, a hummable ditty that was written during one of the band’s Neil Diamond explorations.

“There’s, like, a Neil shrine at the Bank,” says Kato, “which is like the Urge HQ, this old bank. There’s a Neil room, and we used to sit in there and play his records and kinda, like, chill on the vibe, you know. And we actually met him just before his first of five dates here in Chicago at the Rosemont Horizon. It was great. I mean, he just radiates star power, but he’s really nice and very human—he looks you right in the eye. He gave us some good career tips, and it was a very positive, invigorating experience for the band.”

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