Round Guys Radio presented by Round Guys Brewing Company

[Flashback] Music Mashtun 19: A Conversation with Joe Jack Talcum (Dead Milkmen)

August 21, 2019 Season 2 Episode 23
Round Guys Radio presented by Round Guys Brewing Company
[Flashback] Music Mashtun 19: A Conversation with Joe Jack Talcum (Dead Milkmen)
Chapters
Round Guys Radio presented by Round Guys Brewing Company
[Flashback] Music Mashtun 19: A Conversation with Joe Jack Talcum (Dead Milkmen)
Aug 21, 2019 Season 2 Episode 23
Round Guys Brewing Company
Joe Jack Talcum and the story of the Dead Milkmen as told by front man, Joe Genaro, to host Bill McGeeney
Show Notes Transcript

Joe Jack Talcum and the story of the Dead Milkmen as told by one of the front men, Joe Genaro, to host Bill McGeeney. The Original Slacker Podcast presented by Round Guys Brewing Company highlights stories from the brewing and music industries. This episode, we chat about the making of a legend and the eventual exhaustion of the band's enthusiasm for its special brand of pop punk. Episode credits: Kyle McCarthy for sound engineering, Mamata Tharima for production.

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Speaker 1:
0:00
Hey, welcome to the original slacker podcast presented by around guys brewing company. Today we have Joe Jack Talcum, formerly of the dead milkmen and a myriad of other bands. We have a great talk, so stay with us. Are you doing man? I'm pretty good. Thank you. You doing good? Yeah, it's a nice early morning up here in Lansdale like 10:00 AM with their coffee chest is barely awake and barely living after you played all night last night. Joe, how's, uh, how's life in the punk scene in Philadelphia right now? Although it's, it's turning along. Yeah. Yeah. Is there anyone out there that you are, you really pay attention to that you're like, man, I love these guys
Speaker 2:
0:40
in Philadelphia, a band that I really like? They'd been around, I don't know, maybe 10 years. I don't know. Just release an LP, a new one there called the tough shit's tough. I love the name. Great name, great band. They're fun. They're rock and roll, uh, in their punk all at once.
Speaker 1:
1:02
Life is good. Life is good. Fun Times. Yeah. Yeah. Well, hey, at least it's descriptive, right? It's right to the point. Yeah. So you've been doing this for quite a while, man. Uh, I don't longer than I can remember. Yeah. I, this is pretty impressive. So how far back can you remember?
Speaker 2:
1:21
I remember meeting Rodney in high school
Speaker 3:
1:24
lunch and not sure what happened, but, uh,
Speaker 2:
1:30
guy is crazy
Speaker 3:
1:32
funny.
Speaker 1:
1:33
Yeah, that's when you guys started. We started coming up with this great idea. This, this year. Yes.
Speaker 2:
1:41
We have the idea with Rodney. I had it with my next door neighbor, so we made a tape when we are in high school and call it dead dead milkmen and we recorded it at the very last day of 1979 so we caught it so long. Seventies, it was our little kind of folk punk parody. But uh, Garth, uh, brought the tape to school and he ended it, ended it to Rodney to listen to you and then Rodney when to be in on the next time we get it recording. And so he was, he brought his Banjo and his wit and his, you know, rhyming skills. All right. I think that's in defense when it was born. Really? That's the defining fee. My bedroom in it with a tape recorder with Garth and Rodney. Yeah, man. I mean what you did with so many other high school kids still, you know, get out there. It's been fun for ourselves. Yeah. In what otherwise would be a boring world where the in days in the Internet, I mean, people still do that riding. I found Dave, but uh, through a college friend of mine, Dave was my friend Joe, his brother and uh, and then we also dean
Speaker 1:
3:00
and a college friend is you're at temple. That's right. Templates over and where was, uh, and you grew up in Chester county. Is that where you're from? What school was that? Coats. Coats for cash. Good. Today or senior high. Okay. Well, all right. Right on. That's a typical store. Dead milkmen became like this icon in Philadelphia. This underground icon. Yeah. It happened and I think a lot of that when you're talking about Rodney being able to rhyme and everything, the, uh, the music didn't take itself seriously. Some of the most fun music you can have out there right from the very get go. The idea was that it with comedy, it really came off like comedy. I think also a lot of the, the Milkman side, a lot of it didn't, it reflected the, you made me do to comedy. You know, like you think of like, uh, you know, the experience of Wean out there where it's much more of a reflection of common culture. It's just the laughing at it, right? Like you're, you're bringing in different aspects of the current culture and thrown into your music and, and creating just arepas fun. Yeah. Yeah. We had a lot of parody in the very beginning. Okay. Did the name dead milkmen where, where did that name come from?
Speaker 2:
4:15
I just thought it up because I wanted a, well, I, I didn't, I had heard over the dead boys and I feel that was pretty damn good. Pumps money and I won in something like that. But I'll say something that was goofy and kind of colic. Milkmen are usually found in cities I guess too. But we had milkmen back and even back to Chester County when I was growing up, the deliver of milk in Coatesville. Yeah. Man, they delivered the glass milk and they had the little, uh, steel canisters. I guess you're kind of close to the farms out there. So yeah, maybe, I mean, cities had milkmen but wow. Cooksville was a city, but even wagon town where I grew up had a deliver of milk. We referred to as a Milkman, also delivered eggs. I thought it worked as, as an okay punk band for the idea of the, the fake backstory of the Milkman was that it was this guy named Jack Talcum who was a son of Jack Malcolm Jr the son of a famous folk musician, Jack Telecom. So shocked how come junior, uh, also following in his father's footsteps, being a folk musician, but wanting to change or cross over into punk. So he fronts this punk band, hurry, infiltrates a punk band and starts at the front,
Speaker 1:
5:40
infiltrates that checked on them here in the dead. Milkmen that's, that was the backstory behind the first tape came along. I love the fact that you guys, there's a parallel here that I kept thinking about that goes a tray and fish and how
Speaker 2:
5:59
they had this goofy almost nerd like obsession with a minuscule stories that they want to make up for the band. Yeah, and you guys did Rodney and Garth and I. Yeah, and this is, this is great. This is why I love hearing it built a foundation for who you're going to be and also build a foundation for who's going to listen to you. You can think of it that way. Yeah. You vote who would write? You're just out having a good time. You're just getting creative with it.
Speaker 4:
6:27
[inaudible]
Speaker 2:
6:35
ground guys, brewery. You can find out more about all the events we have down here@theundergroundaroundgoesthroughdotcomundergroundlansdale.com or check out or eating establishments at the brew pub across the street and at the Glen Sydell House. [inaudible] house.com so the Milkman come out and you guys just playing around you. Where are you guys really taking as seriously? Were you looking at it like, Hey, this is fun to do. Do I know where you, first of all, if you're in college and when you start really moving right, you had to band you, you Rodney. Um, yeah. It was my day year, your college when we became a real band that started playing shows. Right. And you guys are playing around in the city where you guys taking it seriously? Was it more of a hobby? What we're based, Dave probably was the person that most took it serious delay. He was six years older than us.
Speaker 2:
7:21
Rodney and dean and I are all within a year of each other in age. David was born in 56 so he was kind of the adult experience person. And also he was the only one of us who was a true punk, like in the punk in the late seventies when it was right thing. So to us, he had this knowledge that we didn't have in, remember this is before the Internet when you can look up anything. Exactly. Yeah. So we fed off that, but he also was the person in my mind. He said, you really can make a go of this and this is, he booked shows. He got, he made context and got us more shows than anybody else in the band. His brother went to uh, college at Temple with me. I became friends with his brother Joe. I told Joe one evening that what I really want to do with my life was being in a band and I had all these songs and we were looking for, and I told them about Rodney and we were looking for a bass player.
Speaker 2:
8:23
And he said, well, it just so happens that my brother plays Bass. Maybe you should meet him. So he brought his, invited his brother river to the dorms at temple and I met him and we wrote a song that very same day together and that was, that came really good friends and forward. Yeah. And over the upcoming five, six years, you guys started getting out on the national scene? It's trail. We booked a tour basically by context we found in the fan fanzine called maximum rock and roll. Okay. In the summer. We booked it for the summer of 1985 to coincide with when our first album would be released, big lizard in my backyard and that tour was quite an experience. Half the show, maybe 40% of the is ended up not happening, but we didn't have ways to keep calling contacting people to see what was, we just show up and say, oh well this show is not gonna happen with this venue.
Speaker 2:
9:25
Got Clothes or I'm sorry, but the other 60% of the shows did happen. So you guys are going from city to city kind of without any knowledge. If there's going to be a show, if anyone cares about your music, if there's a place for you. Right, right. That's the first tour, first tour, but halfway through that to where our album started getting the song between Camaro from our album and started getting played on college radio stations and we started to see the effect on the way back to college. Radio is like the equivalent of I guess Spotify or or what have you back. Yeah. Back in the day. It was like, it was like having a, a minor hit, I guess. Yeah. And we saw the effects of it. It started drawing. P people knew that song and they wanted to come see the band play.
Speaker 2:
10:10
So that helped us out and things rapidly started coming together for us. So that first tour was a big money loser. Uh, when we got back home, we decided, the guy who, Dave Reckner, the guy who came along with us to help us out, we decided he was going to be our manager. So we made him our manager and he started booking the shows for us. We started turning around and having profitable tours. Soon after that. I remember we did a tour of New England and it was really good. And when did you guys go down to the very first time that we were shown on MTV was a, for a video we did for a second now, and we'll call it the thing that only eats hippies. And they used to be a program that predated one 20 minutes. I can't remember what it was called now, but it was in the same time slot to late Sunday night thing and they showed it maybe once or twice.
Speaker 2:
11:03
Was pretty exciting. I remember it. No, there was no cable in Philadelphia at the time. There was no such thing as cable TV. So they didn't have MTV. But we went to the suburbs to Rodney's parents' house who had cable. City of Philadelphia had no cable. Correct. They didn't have, they didn't even have the city of Philadelphia didn't have cable as far as I remember. It was some kind of litigation or whatever. They have monopolies and they had the city developed, uh, if I remember correctly. Eventually came up with a plan to divide the city in four pieces and they let four different cable companies, well eventually they all became bought by Comcast anyway, but that's how cable started in Philadelphia. So we had to go to door county, we had to go to Chester County, Delaware county as well because we also watched MTV at in Ridley Park, at Dave's parents house. I remember many hours fast sitting glued to the TV. Like what the hell is this? You never knew what was going to come up next. Yeah. It's also crazy. David Bowie videos that that has an Adam and the ants. Amazing. The thrill of everything at that moment had to be just, I had more than make up for sleeping on a couch in Irvine for two weeks.
Speaker 2:
12:18
Did you guys know where you want to take it or was it just let's just keep rolling with it as far as we can go and just to see the same certain dissuading in myself. I thought that I thought that one album with I, I thought that was a good goal. Make an album, see the country, maybe do something else, but also I remember having a conversation with Dave Reckner, the manager between the first and second album. Him saying, no, I think you can get a lot more out of this one. You stick with it. Because I was personally, I wanted to, I was saying, I don't know if I want to keep doing this thing [inaudible]
Speaker 5:
12:57
yeah,
Speaker 1:
12:57
I just stuck with it. I did. You guys were pumping out albums about every year and a half at that point, right. Just kept coming out.
Speaker 2:
13:04
Zack, I guess I was contractually every year, every year, and I was contractual probably right. The, the thing that we signed with fever was for four albums and they got, they were the ones that got to decide whether it was, whether the next album would happen or not.
Speaker 5:
13:22
Mm.
Speaker 6:
13:24
[inaudible]
Speaker 4:
13:32
[inaudible]
Speaker 1:
13:48
yeah. Props, seed money and learn more about the original stacker. Watch to check us out online at facebook.com/round guys radio search for us on Spotify around guys brewed company. Uh, you can also find out more about the bike ass by going to apple podcasts and Google play. You can search original slacker podcasts anywhere. Great podcasts are found or Google and you'll find us right there. Today we have Joe, Jack Talcum, formerly of the dead milkmen and a myriad of other bands. We have a great talk. So stay with us. Was there a point where there's a little malaise in the group trying to figure out where to music's going to go? Trying to figure out maybe inspiration or
Speaker 2:
14:32
I remember things just kind of naturally happened for the first four or five albums. We just kind of fell into a pattern. I know Rodney's expressed, uh, in hindsight, maybe sun regret over how fast things happen and maybe he's not as proud of the songs as he wanted to be. Personally, I think he did it. I like what we ended up doing and we never really over wrote like a lot of bands do. We used almost everything that we dented, but at the same time they were a lot of songs that got started that never got finished. How did the process go for you guys? It was multifaceted. A lot of, in the early days, songs were written on lyrics were written on paper by Rodney and given to me, I would put music to the things that I could, that I felt I could do. So in just in that process, there were lots and lots of songs.
Speaker 2:
15:36
I don't know where they are anymore. Uh, lyrics that, that never got touched for as far as music is. But I would sit down and say, oh this sounds like a good song. And sometimes I would work in on my own and sometimes I'd be with Dave because he lived with me for awhile and we would work together on a song. For example, like beach party Vietnam came in the mail with some other lyrics and looked at that and say, oh Dave had, they said I have a riff that I'd been working on. I think it really would work with this song. Like just like that. And he'd start playing this riff and I said, yeah I can see how this could work. So and I said, well that's a riff but we need another core here. And I just had one, one core to his roof was Indian, what's play g here?
Speaker 2:
16:20
And that was almost the whole song. So simple. But that's how we did it. And then we recorded that and send a recording to Rodney, I guess for his approval or whatever. You guys all living in different parts where he lived in Westchester cause he was going to school there at rushes question Western and university. And I lived in Manayunk cause I was going to school and that's where Dave and I lived. Uh, I was going to school at Temple and was deemed around Dean wasn't part of the group yet. Dave also played drums. So when we did recordings and we had access to a drunk, and I forget where the drum kit came from, but it was in, it was there. And I think it was Rodney is Trump's actually, cause Rodney brought a drum kit. Right, right. Um, so Dave played Rodney's drum kit in mania onc and we would, I would record Dave playing drums and me playing guitar and then we'd record, play that play back.
Speaker 2:
17:11
And then on another tape machine, uh, David played bass while I sang. Wow. So that's how we made those in these demos. But we called him, I called him down and his now, but back then they were the tapes that we made for the fictional band that dead milkmen. So every time with a story that we had, we kept, we would make a newsletter that they went back, they would define the, the tapes that came out as album in the fake world, baby budding musicians listening. This is a phenomenal approach to how we can really differentiate yourself. Um, the music. So the turnaround time to make Saul, if you had demo tapes,
Speaker 1:
17:51
was that like a month because you have to mail it back and forth
Speaker 2:
17:54
there maybe a month, maybe a month and a half.
Speaker 1:
17:56
Wow. So I want to speed things up a little bit. So do you, who is, I'm sorry, who was the original, uh, label you're with
Speaker 2:
18:03
fever records. So that's a Philadelphia label. We had nothing to do with ending the, except that ending the with did a, what they call it, a p and d are pressing and distribution deal for fever records. So we were technically signed the fever records, but in Nigga GMA was the people that permitted, they were the people that actually did the promotion and everything. So we dealt with an inmate in a way, but it was theoretically through fever as the rights holder. That was for the first four albums to port Townsend SBLs above. Uh, so after, after the fourth album, we were free agents and then we signed directly to a nema for the album metaphysical graffiti and got a significant advance for that, which we never, we didn't fevers a small thing and we were on the low low budget.
Speaker 1:
19:00
And so the seven years down the road and nineties come about, I feel like everything changes in a world in a 90. So you had in the fall of the wall, you had to the uh, eastern bloc is now, yet eastern bloc has now gone. Music has totally changed people's, what people do for fun is changing, right? Like you have over those four years from like 88 to 92, there's a lot of stuff going on. How are you guys transitioning and that, that time?
Speaker 2:
19:29
Well enigma when under they went out, they went bankrupt or whatever while we were touring for a metaphysical worker Fiti uh, the album that was unending Miso, we suddenly found ourselves without a label and not sure of which direction we're going to go. So I do remember clearly having a meeting with all four of us and a record, our manager and Rodney bringing up in the meeting that he didn't want us to be considered a wacky, crazy band anymore, which is probably something he didn't want us to be in the first place. But that's how we were getting perceived and marketed. Cause we were, we were on tour, we were doing these mornings use their morning like morning zoo type drive time radio shows on commercial radio in various markets around the country. So we were waking up rather early after having late night shows doing these crazy things like today, except this is not a morning too, but this isn't one of those wacky crazy things.
Speaker 2:
20:38
And I think that irritated us quite a bit and that we didn't want that to be our stick sticker persona for the band. Yeah. So we made a conscious effort, if you will, to avoid any of that in the future music. Did you see a change in your fan base as you start going through the nineties now you guys are older, you're your fans. Do they still liked it? To me, the fan base with getting younger and younger. Yeah. Like kids that you, I wouldn't think would even go to a show we're coming to share. Is that like age 12 or 13 and did they know that that moment, was it something that somehow they did? Yeah. Okay. That their parents and part that or I don't know. So the years, 1993 to paint the picture, it's, we just finished one leg of the tour.
Speaker 2:
21:32
We had another one that would continue, uh, until [inaudible] 94. So this, we're taking our winter break and dean calls a meeting and says, guys, I don't want to do this anymore. I want to go back to school and learn web design. I really liked this computer thing. He did all of our album covers til a week later, Rodney came to the, Rodney said, you know what? I don't want to continue this anymore either. I'd like to go back to school, Blah Blah Blah. I personally stayed involved in music with the, as did Rodney and dean really as a side thing. Uh, with the band I had called touch Mizu and another band that formed in the wake of touching me to call the town managers. And those other two still local. Yeah. So you guys are all still run butterfly Joe, which was a band that the guy from the big mess orchestra, the, the leader of that put together with some of the big mess people in Dean to play songs that I had recorded and distributed as what I had back then called Joe, Jack Talcum and then Jasper thread men butterfly fairweather tapes this point you're, you're playing your drone in individual acts like you mentioned.
Speaker 2:
22:53
And Rodney did this sort of a Celtic folk band called burn, which burn. That's awesome.
Speaker 1:
23:02
So today I have henchman. It's actually a, a imperial Brown. You know, what I noticed in there is the alcohol warming. Any, uh, there's a definite sweetness and a back from that alcohol henchmen actually was a beer that we made here or by one of our, our sales rep, he came up with a spear and we had a number of tries at it and I believe this was the first one where we didn't mess it up and have to drain it. So Kudos to the guys over in the brewery. Good work.
Speaker 4:
23:27
[inaudible]
Speaker 1:
23:33
when you transitioned away from Milkmen, what did you want to differentiate your sound that you want to keep it the same? Like was there a sound that was true to you?
Speaker 2:
23:41
You, um, yeah, in a way that's, but I always feel like I wasn't in a collaborator, so I have my songs and even then I still made tapes that I felt were just personal solo things apart from things that I would write with the guy seven that was in the band touch Mizu or things I would write with Chris or right. With Brian, it would be for the band, the town managers and a lot of this stuff that's the town managers has the imprint of Chris, Chris, he went by the name Chris Peel out eventually and we formed a band together called the low budgets after Brian decided to leave the town managers and the stuff I did with seven had imprint of unique way of playing that. Seven brought to that, so all right. Some of them there. There are similarities and some differences because of that.
Speaker 2:
24:42
I like midnight. What I think like midnight, I think like midnight [inaudible] what would you characterize that band and Bay? Well, it's instrumental music. I kind of think it is of his life soundtrack. The core of that is Andy Chow Fun. He writes the bulk of the material and it's guitar based, but the band also has keyboards in it and like I play keyboards. I was asked to play keyboards after the ban was already formed and after they already made one album and it's really deans dean in Andy's project. They're the ones that came up with the band. They both loved a now defunct instrumental band that was around in the 80s called pell mill and they wanted and style themselves or make a recording that could be called the lost pell mill album. That was the inspiration for the first album, warm, uh, the first album that they released.
Speaker 2:
25:42
Tiny towns, the song [inaudible] where's the inspiration coming from that this is a song where the music came first and I had new lyrics for it all. I just had this, I had all, I had all the parts and I presented it to the abandoned practice and Ronnie said, Oh, I have, I can put words to that. And pretty instantaneously he had the words. So the inspiration lyrically came from Rodney? Yeah. And you'd have to ask him. I don't know how they asked him. So next time, see Rodney. Yeah. Yeah. Good man. This is a, this is always fun to, it's fun to chat with people a been around doing this cause you see how everything's changed. You have life stories in the 90s. You guys, did you guys have families? Any of you guys in the 90s yeah. Dean. Another reason dean wanted to not to be in the band, to, to exist and to make a living.
Speaker 2:
26:35
We had the tour more than half the year. We didn't really, we weren't in band. That didn't make our money through record sales. Believe it or not, we would have a cult following at best. Right. You probably, you're probably more than one in Erie. He did want to raise a family and me had, he realized he would be best to be in one spot to do that. Uh, so he's, he's the one that they had a kid, Rodney also got married in [inaudible] 94 after the band split up, but he had no children. And then Dave, unfortunately I've passed. Yeah. He also never got married and had children. I never did either. Yeah. Dogs. Nope. No dogs. Cats. No. Joe, thank you so much for coming down to the underground for another great recording. Have down here. It was my pleasure. Thank you. Yeah, man. Where can people find out what you're doing right now? I have a website called [inaudible] dot com and I have a Facebook page, believe it or not, which is, I forget real Joe. Jack now can thing. That's great because it's me. It's not the, it's not a fan putting it out. I have a Instagram, which is under Joe Dot Genero I don't know if that, if that tells you what, and sometimes I explained what I'm doing. [inaudible]
Speaker 2:
28:00
visually. Love it. Great. Thanks so much for coming down. Thank you. Thank you.