The Wisco is no stranger to hosting local Wisconsin talent, and tonight was just another one in the books. I’ve been living in Madison for a little over a year and the Wisco quickly became one of my favorite haunts, and I was more than happy to take on my assignment tonight interviewing and recording the Milwaukee punk band, Indonesian Junk.
I enter the front door and see that the Wisco is PACKED like I’ve never seen it before! In all honesty, I had never before seen the bands that were playing there tonight, and I knew by the standing-room-only crowd that I must be in for some good music. How else do you explain that turnout?
My two friends join me in looking around the bar to find the guys in Indonesian Junk so we can get down to this interview. I’m about five-foot-nothin’ in stature, so looking around this wall-to-wall throng of party-goers and fans proved to be quite difficult.
I message him through facebook: “Hey so where can I find you in here?” The message sends and my friends and I look around to see who picks up their phone. One guy next to us does, but he’s on Instagram.
I get a message back: “I’m over by the merch table in the leather jacket.” I push my way through the crowd to stage left where the merch table is and find…about seven people in leather jackets by the merch table (because it’s a punk show what else would I expect?) I pull out my video camera hoping that Daniel will see the camera and realize who I am. Turns out he is directly in front of me, and I greet the tallest man in a leather jacket in the room. He is wearing Kurt Cobain-esque shades, black lipstick, and his leather jacket is really all that, expertly decorated with a handful of pins. He asks me if I want a CD for our blog, and of course I say yes and pick up a pin as well.
We step out back to the fenced-in smoking area so we can begin the interview. I promised it would be fast because holy crap it is COLD! I felt bad for dragging them out there, but the bar was just too loud to get a word in edgewise. I now feel especially bad because this was originally a video interview but, due to technical difficulties, the footage was therein unusable. Thankfully, the footage from their performance was more than great, and will be accompanying the video transcript interview ahead.
Glam, punk, hair metal—how in the world do you mash all that together? The guys in Indonesian Junk found a way. Their first song of the night starts and I could already tell they have influence from all across the board. Personally, I heard tastes ranging from Poison to Ramones and almost every good 70’s-90’s band in between. With tasty old school style licks and beats to keep you pogo-ing all night long, Indonesian Junk brought a wicked fun sound to the stage.
Could you introduce yourself and state the position you play in the band?
DJ: I’m Daniel [James], I sing and play guitar.
JC: I’m Johnny [Cyanide], I sorta play bass.
M: I’m Mike [Mattner], I play drums.
How would you describe your sound? What influences and inspires Indonesian Junk?
DJ: Glam-punk-power-pop…uh, somewhere around there, haha.
JC: All that good stuff.
DJ: Lots of influences I guess.
JC: Alice Cooper.
MM: I don’t know I just drum.
DJ: We’re named after a Cheap Trick song so that’s the easy answer.
[** There’s a line in “Surrender” that goes: But just the other day I heard/ Of a soldier’s falling off/ Some Indonesian junk / That’s going round**]
How and when did Indonesian Junk come to be?
DJ: I think it was like 2014? I had a bunch of demos that I made that I put out, and then I got him [Johnny] to play bass. I met him at an Alice Cooper show. And eventually Mike tagged along.
I saw on facebook that you guys are on a bit of a tour right now, what cities are you planning to hit up next?
DJ: We’re doing a lot of weekenders right now. This weekend we’re doing this show in Madison and then Columbia, Missouri tomorrow. We got some other stuff coming up too….I can’t even remember. Where are we playing next month? I’m sorry I’m really bad at this, haha!
I heard you had an album that came out last year.
DJ: Yeah, it came out on Friday the 13th in October of last year. It’s called Stars in the Night, it’s our second album. It’s pretty cool, I like it. We’re still trying to sell it and that’s why we’re playing as many shows as we can.
What was the inspiration for this album?
DJ: I just wrote a bunch of songs (everyone laughs). Yeah I mean, just livin’, hanging out, reading comic books.
What do you like about playing in Madison?
DJ: We always have a good time here. I think this is like our fourth or fifth time playing here. This is the first time we’ve played the Wisco, but I have played here in other bands. It’s a cool town, it’s close to Milwaukee so we can do it on a Friday night very easily. There’s a lot of cool people here.
Any specific goals for this coming year as a band?
DJ: Can we say this yet?
DJ: I think we’re touring Europe in the fall, though we might end up doing it next spring. We wanna tour Europe and do another U.S. tour. Just try to sell as many records as we can. We’re already kind of working on our third album too right now but that won’t be out for a while ‘cuz we’re playing too many shows to practice the new songs.
Where can we find your music?
DJ: We have a website. It used to be Indonesianjunkpunk but I was just flubbing every time I said it. It’s like the worst tongue twister ever. So now its indonesianjunkrules.com. Just like, think about how much we rule. Or, it’s 2018 everyone knows how to google haha! We also have free stuff on bandcamp.
JC: Spotify too.
DJ: Yeah we’re everywhere. Just google us.
Anything you’d like to say to the folks at home?
DJ: It’s cold!
JC: It’s cold and it’s snowing!
MM: It’s so freaking cold.
DJ: Oh, and they got good burgers at the Wisco!
And with that, I turned off the camera and we all hurried inside and got burgers—and it’s true, the Wisco has great burgers!
Preceded by Saint Hell Brothers and then Shotdown, Indonesian Junk took the stage at about 11 PM and continued to rock my socks off. Two of their songs (“Turn To Stone” and “Shake It With You”) I have recorded for the world to see.
You can catch Indonesian Junk at a city near you, and you can find the tour dates, merch, music and more at the links below!
*photo does not belong to Music Maehem*