STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
In the ‘80s, warped humorists The Dead Milkmen were touted as being from Philadelphia.
For the record, however, guitarist and front man Joe Genaro, who goes by the stage name Joe Jack Talcum, was born in Coatesville, and in a phone interview he called Chester County “the best county in PA.”
When asked about the band’s long history with The Trocadero Theatre — where they’re performing Oct. 30 — he said: “I think it was ‘87 when we did our first show there.” With a smile in his voice, Genaro noted that they shared the bill that night with F.O.D. (Flag Of Democracy).
More than a year after that concert, The Dead Milkmen — always a band least likely poised for crossover appeal — wound up on MTV with “Punk Rock Girl.” Scenes from the humorous video were shot at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and the Cherry Hill Mall. “In the part where we’re driving around (in the video) getting chased by the dad, that was Philly too,” said Genaro.
When asked how much the Philadelphia punk boutique Zipperhead — which in 2005 relocated and was re-dubbed Crash Bang Boom — appreciated the mention in the opening line of “Punk Rock Girl,” he said the band remains friends with the owners to this day, and they even played at the store in 2009 and last year.
Genaro said the song would be in the Halloween Eve set list, and so would fan favorite “Bitchin’ Camaro.” “Every single time we perform it, we improvise it. As time went on, we got farther and farther away from (the original recording),” Genaro said of the spoken word first half of “Bitchin’ Camaro” by keyboardist and singer Rodney Linderman, aka Rodney Anonymous. “I don’t know how much he thinks about (what he’s going to do when performing the song). Sometimes he reads from a book.”
You can also expect “a smattering of songs” from their 2014 album “Pretty Music for Pretty People.”
However, if you were hoping they’d break into their song that skewers British new wave music, “Instant Club Hit (You’ll Dance to Anything),” don’t count on it. Although, said Genaro, the last time The Dead Milkmen played in Washington, it reared its head within the hastily-chosen encore song (because it “doesn’t always happen,” Genaro joked) “Swordfish.”
Pressed to choose his favorite songs from The Dead Milkmen catalog, Genaro mentioned 1989’s “Smokin’ Banana Peels,” and their anti-ode to actor Charles Nelson Reilly “Serrated Edge.”
Signed to a major record label deal in the ‘90s, the band reached a collective breaking point by 1995. “I think we were tired. We were tired of touring. That was how we were making our living, and we wanted to do other things,” Genaro said, mentioning starting families and outside musical projects.
Now 53, Genaro never imagined that he’d still be playing Dead Milkmen songs at this point in his life. “In 2004, I never envisioned that we were ever getting back together,” he said, referring to the year bassist Dave Schulthise took his own life.
Gradually opening up about Schulthise, who went by Dave Blood during his time with the band, Genaro commented that mental illness is scary because those that are coping with it can lose the sense of who they are.
Dan Stevens from the Philly group The Low Budgets took over bass duties as Deliberating Dandrew, beginning with Dead Milkmen reunion concerts honoring Schulthise’s memory at the Trocadero.
Check out the festive, Halloween-themed ramblings on the band’s website www.deadmilkmen.com.
IF YOU GO
What: The Dead Milkmen, with two opening acts.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 30.
Where: The Trocadero Theatre, 1003 Arch St., Philadelphia.
Info.: Call (215) 922-6888 or visit www.thetroc.com. For more on the band, check www.deadmilkmen.com.