Poster Children: Back in action

Poster Children: Back in action

Longtime local music heroes Poster Children are back performing after a decade off and rereleasing the classic "Daisychain Reaction" on vinyl for its 25th anniversary.

The first stop on the new tour is right here in Champaign at the Pygmalion Festival.

"It's been a long time since Poster Kids performed, so it's a rare treat," Pygmalion founder Seth Fein said of the band, which is playing at 8:15 p.m. Friday at The Accord's outdoor annex stage two in downtown Champaign.

You can preorder the record at store.posterchildren.com.

They've put out 11 studio albums altogether, the last in 2004, but there's a new one coming, with veteran Steve Albini producing.

We talked to the married couple who have been in Poster Children since the very beginning in 1987, Rick Valentin (guitar, vocals) and Rose Marshack (bass, vocals). Both are now professors at Illinois State University in Arts Technology. Other current band members are Jim Valentin (guitar) and Matt Friscia (drums).

It's the 25th anniversary reissue — how has your music changed since then?

Rick: We've tried to mix things up and experiment with different sounds and styles over the years, but at our core, we've always been what I'd call a rhythmic guitar band, meaning that the bass and drums are equals with the guitars. We've been working on new songs, and I think in some ways we've come full circle.

What was it like to work with star producer Steve Albini?

Rose: I love working with Steve. I'm thrilled that we're doing it again for our next album. Steve is brilliant, and he's funny, and he has almost the same crass, Chicago sense of humor that we have. I remember being afraid of him at first, but he's just really nice. The best thing to do is to get him started talking about math. When you record with him, there's a sort of no-nonsense energy in the air. I feel like we're so in awe of him that we want to just get our work done, no screwing around, no wasting time.

Do you remember what the writing process was like?

Rick: It was a pretty volatile time for the band; the songs on "Daisychain" are from four different lineups over three years. But overall our writing process was the same then as it always has been. Someone would play a riff in rehearsal, and we would all start playing along, adding parts until it sounded like a complete song, and then I would write lyrics and melody on top of the music.

Do you have a favorite song from the recording after all these years?

Rose: I never listen to our albums; I prefer playing the music live, but I have to say, listening to Bob Weston's remastering of Steve Albini's amazing recording of "Daisychain," I love how those gentlemen made us sound. It sounds totally like our band when we play live. "Freedom Rock" — which I think we probably never even played live, a really really old song that I never really had a lot of attachment to, just sounds amazing to me.

Why vinyl?

Rick: You can't hug a digital stream. But seriously, the record was recorded on analog tape, the track order was decided based on Side A and Side B of an LP — it was originally made for vinyl, so it made sense to reissue it on vinyl.

Are you working on new recordings?

Rose: We went in and recorded six new songs with Steve Albini this summer. These songs remind me of "Daisychain"-era songs from Poster Children, so it makes sense to record with Steve. We'll be recording more songs next year.

Pygmalion looks like your first tour stop for 2016. Have you played the festival before?

Rose: Seth has invited us many times, but it wasn't the right time yet. I'm so thrilled to play it this time and that it's our first day back in 10 years! I was part of Tech Fest last year and was on a panel with Jimmy Chamberlain; that was fun. We're very fortunate in Champaign to have the incredible amount of tech and research — and food — and it's brilliant to showcase all these things.

After Champaign, you're playing a lot of big cities. Will this interfere with your day jobs and family life?

Rose: It's nine major cities on the North American continent over two long weekends, so it's going to be a very, very compact, very intense tour, so it shouldn't interfere too much. We're not doing the six weeks in a van thing this time around.

Is it still fun to tour?

Rose: I can't wait to find out. It sure is fun to play our songs again, to create and make music together. I remember picking up my bass for the first time in years and having our first practice and thinking, "Wow, my brain thinks totally differently when I am playing music."

How did you get together in 1987?

Rose: We formed at Allen Hall. There was a big room where bands could rehearse and play, and I remember hanging out in the PLATO area, playing Empire, before our practices. I remember a great rapport with other bands; everyone was always very supportive in the local scene.

Speaking of family, you're married and your brother is also in the band. Is that closeness a spur for creativity or for tension?

Rick: If you mean have I ever tried to stab Jim with a fork or vice versa, no. I give Jim full credit for keeping the peace; he's very easygoing. I think Rose and I have more of the "creative discussions" in rehearsal but it's never gotten "stabby." It's nice having a family-centric band; we're less likely to break up when three-quarters of the band have to see each other at Thanksgiving every year.

If you go

What: Poster Children

When: 8:15 p.m. Friday

Where: The Accord's outdoor annex stage two in downtown Champaign

Tickets: part of the Pygmalion Festival Tickets; visit thepygmalionfestival.com/

 

Topics (1):Music

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