Beloved Chicago pop-punk band Showoff first formed back in 1997 and found their place in the swiftly growing pop-punk scene when they released their landmark self-titled third album in the late 90's. Flash forward nearly twenty years to 2014, and the band had just reunited for the first time in years to begin playing together once more, practicing and eventually writing what would become their 2017 comeback release, Midwest Side Story. Just when the now massive pop-punk genre needs these veterans the most, they've returned with a new found energy and the same old love for music that they had when they first formed.
Midwest Side Story simply picks up where Showoff left off, staying true to the band's sound while also showcasing their natural progression. This weekend, Showoff will play a hometown show with Punchline at Reggie's Rock Club in Chicago and soon, they'll be hitting the road once more. We recently caught up with vocalist Chris Messer to talk about the band's past, present and future, as well as a few hilarious stories from over the years. Read the interview below and pick up Midwest Side Story on September 22nd.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
I have to start off by talking about your reunion. When you guys first got back together and started playing again, did you have plans to begin writing a new album, or was it just good to be in the same room playing music together once more?
Honestly, it was just so much fun to be together and playing out again. I had been writing songs for awhile at that point and once we decided to continue playing together, we went through some of the songs and we were really happy with how they were turning out. It’s been awesome, especially seeing so many familiar faces. The support has been incredible. We appreciate the fans a ton.
Now, you’re getting ready to release your new album, Midwest Side Story in September. How did the idea of the record first start to form?
Once we went through the songs I had, we started sending files back and forth and really shaping more and more songs that became this album. The moment we decided to come out of the crazy long hiatus, it made sense to get a record recorded.
This being your first album back, did you have any big goals when working on Midwest Side Story?
We wanted to stay true to who we were as Showoff and show progression from what we were at the same time. I think we accomplished that. I’m really proud of what we created with this record.
Were there any stories that you wanted to tell on the album that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
There are so many stories I haven’t gotten around to yet. I’ve had a fear of little people for a long time its totally irrational and I know it and I’m mostly over it at this point. One time while in Showoff, I decided to go to a hustler store with the rest of the band and bought 10 suction cup dildos and stuck them to the top of the doors of every room on my level I walked past. I noticed the hotel had a peep hole for kids on my floor of the hotel, even a door knob they could reach. I thought that was pretty cool, but I thought it would also be hilarious for people to wake up and open their door to a 12” dildo. I laughed for about 20 minutes before I fell asleep. The next day, I woke up and we were getting ready to leave for the show, the rest of the band went out to the van and said they’d pick me up out front. I packed the rest of my stuff and headed outside. All of the sudden I hear “Hey! Hey You!!”.. I looked around and there was no one there.. I thought I was losing my mind or maybe just tired from staying up all night .. anyway, I hear it again “Hey YOU!” still nothing.. then a tug on my pants. My heart sank.. I looked down and there he was. A little person, an angry little person, giving me the look of death. He said “You think your funny, man?” “You think you’re real funny don’t you?”. I must have looked confused.. But said “Yeah, most of the time” His look didn’t change, he said “You think its funny, putting those goddamned dildos where we couldn’t reach em’?” It was at that moment I realized those peep holes weren’t for kids.. That hotel held the Little People Convention every year. 30 more little people walked out of the hotel all while this dude is yelling “He doesn’t like little people”.. They formed sort of a horseshoe around me. Totally threatening me and taunting me to fight.. It was a nightmare. When I looked up, the band were all in the van parked in front ofme and laughing their asses off at me. I tried the door and they had locked it. I was panicked, the little people all started crowding closer to me and getting even more vocal. The guys finally opened the door after what seemed like an eternity and I literally DOVE into the van. I need to write a song about this.
You’ve released a few songs from the album so far, including “Popular Kid.” Why was this an important song to include on the album?
"Popular Kid" is all about being the outcast, the nerd, disenfranchised from the cool kids. It’s a song that tells people they don’t need to worry about being popular, the people that matter won’t care that they aren’t popular. There are more of us than there are of them.
Although it has been on and off, Showoff has been together for 20 years this year. Reflecting on your years together, what are you most proud of that you’ve accomplished as a band?
Much more than what we have accomplished as a band I am proud of who the guys have become as individuals. From being these smart mouthed little kids to being great fathers, husbands and people. Seeing the happiness in all of our lives is the best thing I can think of.
What are you looking forward to in the months and years to come?
I am looking forward to all the shows we get to play, the people we get to see again and meet for the first time. There really are a ton of amazing things happening right now and I can’t wait to be on the road.
The pop-punk scene has evolved quite a bit since you first began writing music together, so what do you hope to bring to this scene filled with the newer wave of pop-punk artists as well as those you have been in it for as long as you guys?
I am hoping we can help bring a sense of community, or help it grow a little at least. We all have a crazy sense of humor and a message.. I hope we can get that out there.
With Midwest Side Story out next month, do you have any other big plans coming up? Could we expect some more shows soon?
Definitely, there are a ton of shows in the works right now. We are likely going to tour for a while again and I am looking forward to that very much.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for doing this interview.. I appreciate it. Also, San Dimas High School Football Rules!