Meet Chicago Psych Indie Ska Surf Punk THE LIMBOS!

Meet Chicago Psych Indie Ska Surf Punk THE LIMBOS! By Sam Lowry 

Formed 9 years ago, The Limbos remain a group whose sound simply cannot be pinned down to any exact genre or category. As much as audiences attempt to put them under the umbrella of "surf" or "ska' or "indie", those terms alone are very far from accurate. Many bands make claim to have their own sound then upon first listen sound immediately like a duplicate of a dozen other bands. All the while The Limbos have politely and impressively sounded like..... The Limbos. One journalist wrote they sound like The Pixies having a drink with Squirrel Nut Zippers on a cloudy beach in 1968 and that’s kind of a good start when beginning to describe them.  

What Does Your Band Name Mean? I wish there was some cool story or meaning to the band name but it ended up just being the first name I pitched that wasn't already taken and we felt it was fitting. I liked it because I used to collect garage rock compilations on vinyl of long lost garage rock bands from the 60's and it sounded like the name of one of those dip shit bands that recorded a cover of Louie Louie and a B side that's basically just Louie Louie then was never heard from again. 

How Did You Meet? I met Drew, our drummer, like 16 years ago. We, like many 19 year olds at the time had just moved to Chicago and were taking improv classes. We remained good friends and would talk about starting a 2 person band at some point. It was a revisited late night topic that eventually became a reality. We then just kept adding people and it's been a revolving door ever since. 

What's Your Songwriting Process? It really varies but I'd say I generally find a progression and melody first then add lyrics about whatever is on my mind at the time. In more recent years though, it has become WAY more collaborative than it used to be. I'll bring in the gist of the song then literally EVERYBODY in the band has input about certain parts. I like it when everybody has bursts of ideas. It makes it genuinely feel like it's collectively ours and not just my angry songs that I come in and teach to everybody which is kind of how it used to feel. 

Who Do You Sound Like? It's odd. None of us really have a definitive answer for that. I've heard comparisons to everybody from Interpol to The Doors to The B-52's to Squirrel Nut Zippers to Violent Femmes to Dick Dale. All of the above aren't totally wrong either. 

What first got you into music? I took piano lessons for a couple years at a very young age. My parents also ALWAYS had oldies playing in the car. The combo of that input and output was likely the groundwork for what I'm doing today. 

Who would you most like to collaborate with? Andrew Bird. His violin skills and whistling skills are pretty impressive. I've also been listening to him since I was in high school when he was releasing his "Bowl of Fire" albums. He's based out of Chicago like us and believe me I've tried to collaborate but getting in touch with him is near impossible. 

What would you be doing right now, if you weren't playing in a band? Trying to start a band. I've been in over a dozen bands and being in one that I care about keeps me sane. 

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues? We've performed at many MANY places in Chicago. We've been playing shows here for 13 years so I can barely remember every single one. Favorite places to play are definitely Schuba's and Tonic Room. Favorite used to be Double Door but they closed down unfortunately. Least favorite is definitely Silvie's. The first time we played there will be the last. If Silvie's was the last venue in Chicago, I still wouldn't play there. 

How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business? It's definitely created pros and cons. It's definitely destroyed the total amount of power that the folks "in charge" of the business have which is wonderful. I love that the internet has become a very accessible conduit for artists to release anything they want whenever they want. At the same time, I hate the online saturation it's created. To me, it's not totally ideal when any moron can put their stuff out there because it makes it WAY too crowded. Because of the internet great artists have been able to find an audience but then again, so has Justin Bieber. 

What is your favourite song to perform? We have a newer one called "Secretly Enemies". Hopefully folks can hear it sooner than later. We were about to start recording a new album that it was going to be on then Covid hit. 

Which famous musicians do you admire? Miles Davis, Isaac Brock, Kaki King, Beethoven, Billie Holiday, Charles Thompson (Frank Black), Ian Mackaye, Thelonious Monk. 

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into? When I was a kid, a neighborhood friend and I prank called a bunch of 900 hundred numbers and when our parents got the phone bill, we were grounded for the entire summer. It seems like peanuts now but losing an entire summer was devastating as a young teenager. 

What is the best advice you’ve been given? To audition to play piano for a show on a cruise ship. It truly put me on the proper route for where I am today. 

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be? Venues need to book more than the same dozen local bands regularly. They'll argue that those bands bring in bodies the reason they bring in bodies is because those bands have been favored by talent buyers and set up to gain a following. Bands can't gain a local following if they can't get shows because their name doesn't have the word "Beach" in it and sound like DIIV. Talent buyers need to flag when bands have played enough at a certain venue for the next few months and let other bands gain an audience. A lot of commerce and exposure is done in person and there's too many talented and interesting bands who go unnoticed because talent buyers only book their friends or only book a band who brings the same 40 pricks to empty out their PBR supply. I know of a lot of bands who are told that they don't have a strong following and bands can't GET a strong following when they're not booked because "Beach Twin" or "Deer Wolf" always get to play on weekends. 

What’s next for you? We're recording a new album as soon as it's safe to do so. The studio we regularly go to is on the smaller side so distancing isn't really feasible there so we're waiting till we can safely start recording it. We could honestly record most of it live in a day if we had to. We were 100% ready to nail it out. 

What are your favorite movies or books? Movies: Sneakers, Good Morning Vietnam, The Double (the 2014 one), Wet Hot American Summer, The Shining, Beetlejuice, Ghost, Little Miss Sunshine, Whiplash, Pulp Fiction, Napoleon Dynamite. Books: This Is Your Brain On Music, Please Kill Me, Our Band Could Be Your Life, As I Knew Him, Ripped, Irresistible, The Pigman. 

What are your top 3 desert island albums (3 records for the rest of your life)? Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, The Lonesome Crowded West by Modest Mouse, Surfer Rosa by The Pixies.



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