Words by Erin Wolf
Milwaukee has returned to its rock roots more vehemently in the past year with the rejoining of seminal acts such as Die Kreuzen, Boy Dirt Car and Cherry Cake: 90s rockers Sometime Sweet Susan are also joining the ranks of bands Milwaukee’s old-schoolers have been longing to see live, once again, and making it happen. Compound Red’s recent reunion show at Todd Wehr (2006) was a good reminder that the Milwaukee rock scene from the 90s definitely has not been forgotten, and is perhaps being resuscitated under the pure vitality of today’s scene, where current punkers and rockers, alike, are throwing their energies into putting together stellar shows on both the weekends and ‘sleepier’ weekdays. Fan-belt talks to James Warchol, front man of Sometime Sweet Susan, to get his thoughts on ‘then’ versus ‘now’ before the band makes an appearance tonight at the Turner Hall Ballroom.
So, it’s been over a decade since Sometime Sweet Susan was a working band; now, you’re back to playing the occasional show (the Atomic Valentine show, tonight’s show at Turner). How does it feel: deja vu, or totally new experience?
Mostly deja vu. We were able to step back in the same room and pick up close to where we left off. Playing together again brought back a lot of those great moments and memories, along with lots of jokes and banter between the three of us. It’s been a lot of fun.
What’s the current lineup?
Me (Jim Warchol on guitar and vocals, Thom Mosley on bass and backup vocals, Franz Buchholtz on drums.
What have you and your band mates been up to musically, in between then and now?
Franz has been the most prolific with his Signaldrift work, which is really cool stuff. I believe he’s got something new in the works. Thom is out in Seattle and has played in a couple bands.. I was doing an electronic solo project under the name Loam, and have been doing various experimental projects with a few different people — mostly treated guitar, laptop, field recordings and installation-type work. I need to get busier.
How was the relearning process on the old material?
Fun, but a bit nerve-wracking at times. I used a lot of weird tunings, and wasn’t too clear about documenting those in one place, nor did I ever write down the chords or do anything resembling notation. So, I had to relearn my parts a bit and listen to the originals. I have had a couple of those ‘eureka’ moments when I suddenly remember what I played. There are still a couple of other songs that are just lost in the ether. But, the three of us really helped each other remember the majority of it.
Are you tempted to write new material now that you’re pretty familiar with your original stuff?
Yes. Very tempted.
You mentioned that SSS is planning to do re-issues. Any news on that?
The first album, Fuse, is out on iTunes, eMusic and a few other places. I’ll probably put out “Point” and “The Coming Lights” this Fall at some point. I’d like to get some of our early cassette-only items out there, but they would likely need some remastering.
What are some things you are personally stoked about in terms of what the Milwaukee music scene has developed into SSS’s heydy?
The scene seems really vibrant and on the verge of something bigger, right now. We’re playing with three really good bands: Juniper Tar, Dim Suns, The Trusty Knife — plus, there are a bunch of other really strong bands like The Celebrated Workingman, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Canyons of Static, Testa Rosa, etc. It’s really cool to hear people buzzing about the Bees’ collaboration with Bon Iver, and I thought it was cool when I heard The Championship get two songs played on Sirius XMU’s blog radio. The Pabst/Turner/Riverside existence means national acts don’t pass the city by anymore, which trickles down to exposure and respect for the local scene. Plus, Cactus Club and the other smaller venues are still going strong. I think/hope that the local bands these days realize they have many more options out there to get their music heard, and that they don’t need to get ‘signed’ to be successful. Get your songs out there, secure your publishing up tightly and be creative with your methods of exposure.
Sometime Sweet Susan plays alongside the Dim Suns, Juniper Tar and The Trusty Knife tonight at the Turner Hall Ballroom for a 7 p.m., all ages show. The Turner Hall Ballroom is located at 1032 N. 4th Street.