BASS! How low can you go? Pretty damn low when you’re rollin’ with Milwaukee’s Best: Bear Proof Suit. In this candid interview conducted by Kevin DeBroux of Pink Reason and exclusive to Razorcake.org, the boys in the band step out from behind the curtain to deal the real on their hometown’s scorching nightlife scene, close encounters with glitterati outside of Walgreen’s and their own personal battles with addiction and the harsh choices they’ve had to make on their way to the top. Or the middle. Or, at the very least, the top of the middle. The sensitive, bearded souls typical of Razorcake‘s readership should prepare to engage hankies in three, two, one…
The full interview is featured in Razorcake #44, which can be found here-
Ryan—guitar and vocals
Hanson—guitar and vocals
Magoo—bass and vocals
Kevin: Do you think I could get another one of those beers real quick? I’m probably more nervous than you guys are. I’ve never really done an interview before.
Ryan: You’re not interviewing to dance at our club. [laughter]
Kevin: Yeah, I know. Did you see that thing in the paper? Someone sent me a link to this thing on OnMilwaukee.com, and it was an article about dress codes at dance clubs in Milwaukee. At some dance club in the ghetto I was interviewed. It said, “Twenty-six-year-old Kevin DeBroux,” and I was complaining about not getting into the club… I have absolutely no recollection of this. Someone told me about it, and I was like, “Yeah whatever, dude. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Then someone sent me a link. I have no idea what I’d have been doing in that part of town, even.
Magoo: Where was it?
Kevin: I don’t know. It wasn’t in Riverwest (Bear Proof Suit’s neighborhood), but I could tell by the name it was an all-black club… and also by the fact that they weren’t letting me in. [laughter]…So has moving to Milwaukee changed anyone’s perspectives that maybe came here from another town and had a more politically correct mindset and had to come in here and deal with the day-to-day realities?
Hanson: Some people stay inside more or live in Bayview (neighborhood on the other side of downtown Milwaukee) instead of Riverwest.
Magoo: I drove a car (five blocks) over here, partially because I’m lazy and was running late, and partially because it’s sixty degrees out (on January 7th!), and there might be some crackheads getting out of hibernation a little early right now. [laughter] It’s like what happens to bears when there’s some kind of fucked up temperature cycle…
Hanson: “I haven’t taken a shit for three months!”
Magoo: “I haven’t robbed anyone for six weeks!”
Hanson: “I’ve got an itch.”
Ryan: It’s funny because we talk about crime in Milwaukee—and it seems like Milwaukee bands have been getting asked about that shit in recent years in interviews—and like, “Oh, Milwaukee’s scary.”
Kevin: Damn, I thought I was coming up with something new.
Ryan: Someone I know who’s from the Bay Area and now lives here told me a couple years ago that if all these Milwaukee people moved out there, most of them would end up on heroin and I’m like, “You know, I really don’t think so.”
Kevin: Heroin’s been around. They just prefer video games.
Magoo: Heroin’s stupid. It’s more expensive and not as fun.
Ryan: So you’re saying that my zip code will dictate me putting a needle in my arm and becoming a complete loser scumbag junkie?
Magoo: I’ve never lived in San Francisco or Oakland, but I’ve never heard about any mandatory heroin thing they’ve got going out there.
Hanson: You’d do it if it was mandatory, right?
Magoo: Well if they made me.
Kevin: If all those junkies moved to Milwaukee, they’d all be hooked on Wii.
Ryan: Like it’s something serious, like all of us drinking Hamm’s: “Hey man, that Hamms is ruining your life, you gotta get your shit together!”
Magoo: Man, I aspire to drink Hamm’s.
Ryan: Well, the other night when I was waiting for you guys outside Walgreens, this young white guy who looked about twenty-three and was wearing an Adidas jacket and smoking a cigarette came up to me and said, “Excuse me, sir, I’m homeless. Can you help me out?” And I looked at him and said, “You’re homeless, huh? Nah, I don’t think you’re that homeless. [laughter] Maybe you’re a little homeless but you’re not like totally homeless.” Then he says, “Even a penny will help,” and I’m like, “Man, now you’re just aggravating me.” [laughter] It was ridiculous, and I’m like, “Dude, you are the least likely guy I am ever gonna give money to.” Here’s my question: How come everybody’s homeless outside the liquor store on a Saturday night?
Hanson: ‘Cause they live close by.
Ryan: It’s like if you’ve already got beer or booze on your breath and you’re asking me for money, well, fuck you, asshole, you’re ahead of me! I didn’t buy mine yet! That happened the other night at L&W (liquor store) when I’m standing in line and this guy wanders up to me and is whispering in my ear, “Hey man, can you help me out?” and I’m like, “GET THE FUCK OFF ME!” The lady behind the counter says, “Is he with you?” and I’m like, “Fuck no, he ain’t with me!” and she says, “Go on, get out!”
Magoo: Nice. The owner?
Ryan: Yeah, she don’t fuck around—you need a liquor store whose employees don’t fuck around… Here’s a question: Will Milwaukee ever go smokeless?
Kevin: I was actually gonna ask that, too.
Ryan: It hasn’t yet, but Chicago just did on New Year’s.
Kevin: Concetta’s (Kevin’s ex-girlfriend) mom fronts the anti-smoking coalition. She was part of the thing that got smoking banned in Madison and she fronts it in Green Bay.
Magoo: [menacingly] Where does she live? [laughter]
Hanson: Google Earth.
Magoo: Yeah, that’s the ultimate stalking resource, isn’t it?
Ryan: Here’s the thing: I don’t smoke and I don’t really want to be in a smoke-filled room, but having a third to a half of the clientele having to go outside to smoke is just stupid.
Magoo: Well, it’s drunk people on the street!
Ryan: Well, what about businesses, like when there are people standing out in front of a big corporate office building puffing away…
Kevin: And leaving butts everywhere.
Ryan: You can’t denote a single room in your giant building to have a smoker’s lounge?
Kevin: The tax goes to pay for people to pick up the butts since they made them go outside.
Ryan: When we were kids they were smoking in the teachers’ lounge in the elementary school.
Magoo: They needed it!
Hanson: How could you be a teacher and not a smoker? Have you seen kids? They suck! [laughter]
Ryan: I had one teacher in seventh grade, Mr. Pelky, and you could smell the brandy in his coffee cup when he’d come back to class. It was just cigarettes, brandy, and coffee.
Magoo: Hey, I’d just like to say one thing about cigarettes and the dollar tax increase that came into effect on New Year’s. It’s that Governor Jim Doyle (of Wisconsin) wants to talk to me about what’s good for me and what’s good for public health, but hey, NEWSFLASH! YOU’RE A FAT GUY! [laughter] Okay? Seriously, you’re a fuckin fat guy—where’s the frozen custard tax, you piece of shit? [laughter]
Kevin: It’s Wisconsin—where’s the cheese tax?
Magoo: There are so many things that are worse than cigarettes—not really—just sayin’, and people cannot quit because they’re addicted. You’re gonna levy a tax on poor people. Good job. Thank you. I really enjoy my already meager funds going to an addiction I can’t stop. Thank you so much.