Not every music venue’s event calendar is currently graced with an appearance from a '90s-formed, Midwest-based hardcore punk band, but apparently, Yucca Tap Room got lucky. Yes, 88 Fingers Louie will be in Tempe on Thursday, February 6. And before you ask, the name refers to an underhanded character from The Flintstones.
In the age of ska samplers and punk compilations, a band like 88FL were neither really ska nor punk. They were something more melodic, hard, and fast. They were something you’d like to hear a little louder. The band were associated with Fat Wreck Chords and Hopeless Records, releasing albums titled Behind Bars and Up Your Ass.
Like every band, 88FL had its drama, but the breakups and resets led to associated acts like Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, and Explode and Make Up. In 2020, 88FL are drummer John Carroll and bassist Nat Wright, not to mention original guitarist Dan "Mr. Precision" Wleklinski and original vocalist Denis Buckley.
The Tempe show kicks off the six-date 2020 Southwest tour, and you may have heard of the main support — local silly boys Playboy Manbaby.
“We're really stoked to be getting back out on the road with 88 Fingers Louie,” says vocalist Robbie Pfeffer via email, who claims Yucca is the perfect venue for the home show. “I pretty much always have a good time there, except that one time a lady peed on my car,” he says. “I take it back; that night was also fun.”
We caught up with Denis Buckley via email (people are busy, okay) before the Southwest tour to talk Chicago, comp punk, and lovin’ the Valley.
Phoenix New Times: Do you feel 88FL represent Chicago’s punk sound, as it was?
Denis Buckley: Chicago has never had a set “punk sound,” and although we look to many Chicago bands for inspiration, our sound I think draws more from the southern California melodic hardcore of the late '80s/early '90s.
I was exposed to 88FL through compilation records (shout out to Hopelessly Devoted to You Too). What changes have you noticed since record stores and comp albums have gone on the decline?
I think the internet, for better or worse, has become the new normal in terms of introducing someone to new or unreleased music, as opposed to going out and getting that comp for that previously unreleased track. That said, it’s always nice to see when a label still puts out sampler CDs.
How are audiences now different, or similar, to '90s or turn-of-the-century crowds?
We still see a lot of the same maniacs that we did in the '90s, but many of these lunatics have little to not-so-little monsters of their own, and they’re all coming to the shows. We’ve also been fortunate enough to gain some fans in between our breakups/makeups.
Any particular reason why the tour is happening now — 2020?
It’s cold in Chicago this time of year!
Do you recall the last time you were in the Phoenix area?
January 13, 2019, as a matter of fact. We played the Rebel Lounge, probably my favorite show of that run.
Are you fond of Arizona? Do you have any memories of tour stops in the Phoenix area?
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Absolutely. As I mentioned, our last show was awesome, and we have lifelong friends from the area. Our first time through, we played the Nile basement with Sam the Butcher, and Anthony from that band (now in We Were Stereo and Lost in the Sun) is one of my favorite people on Earth.
Any new music in the works?
That is a very good question, one I’m not sure I can answer. After this run of Southwest shows, we are going to take some time off. How long remains to be seen.
88 Fingers Louie are scheduled to perform on Thursday, February 6, at Yucca Tap Room. Tickets are $15 and available via PurplePass.