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Concert Thu Oct 14 2010
The early punk band DA! performed for the first time in over 20 years this past May at the Empty Bottle, and will be performing on Saturday at the Abbey Pub with Radar Eyes and the Green Lady Killers. The quartet formed in 1978, and broke up in 1982. The film You Weren't There, which focused on the late '70s/early '80s punk scene in Chicago, featured DA! I spoke to bassist and vocalist Lorna Donley, who, among other things, has been working as a librarian in the years since DA!
GB: I just watched the videos for the song "Next To Nothing", was that shot on the brown line?
DA!: Yes, that's the old Fullerton station. Dave shot that a long time ago, when he was in film school.
It's cool to see footage of the CTA from 1981.
As an archivist, it makes me cry to see the state that my stuff is in, hopefully there will be more ephemera to come -- I have a lot of fliers, I've found some lyric sheets written in my 17-year-old handwriting.
It must be like reading your own diary.
It's been so intense, I hadn't seen Gaylene in a very long time, at least 20-25 years. Dave and I had been in touch. Joe (Joe Losurdo, who directed the film You Weren't There with Christina Tillman), wanted to put out the album because there was a lot of unreleased stuff, and asked if there was any chance we could play a record release. I thought: "are you fucking kidding me?" But something just got into me, I thought "well why not?" It seems to be in the air.
I blame Facebook.
DA!: That's so true isn't it? Because everyone wants to hook up with their old friends -- all the old bars have pages or groups or whatever, there was even a group that had invited me to "like" them -- a restaurant where I had waited tables in the 80's that I had completely forgotten about. There's been a lot of cool opportunities to re-frame things and maybe do some healing -- not to sound too corny.
Did the resurgence of DA! start with You Weren't There?
Yeah, that's what started everything. There was also this punk compilation from the 1980s on Autumn Records (Busted at Oz). People have been talking about re-issuing that record for years. Every once in a while someone says they're going to write a book or re-issue a record, but Joe made a really fine movie. I don't care for the last part -- the bitchfest, but the rest is all right.
Will there be more DA! shows in the future?
There was just the one show at the Empty Bottle, and this will be the second. I don't know if we'll be doing any more -- it's really hard, it's a lot of work, and we have a different drummer this time. It's going to be great, we have a great drummer but it's not going to be Bob Furem. He was the drummer in Strike Under and played on the DA! EP, the second record. The first record we had Dawn Fisher drumming.
Have you been in touch with the other DA! band members this whole time?
Dave I kept up with, he's still in Chicago, and he and I had other bands together after DA! -- The Veil in the '80s. We never released anything but did a lot of work -- recorded a lot of stuff together, did some recording at Shoe's Short Order up in Zion. Playing with Dave is so comfortable. Gaylene -- same with her but she's in San Diego; we have to jam in as much practice as we can in one weekend. It feels -- it's so crazy, it feels so exactly the same sometimes.
How have audiences responded to seeing DA! back on stage?
The Empty Bottle was amazing, we never played for that many people when we were around. Maybe once, there was an art show we did, but we managed by the end of the set to drive the audience away. There were a lot of people at the Empty Bottle show from back in the day, and there were a lot of younger people, and its kind f cool because over the years I've been contacted by various people -- or friends of my brother will say "you're sister was in that band?" I'd like to think that we were the first post-punk band in Chicago. That's my new theory, and I'm sticking to it. In a way we kind of preceded The Effigies and Naked Raygun, some of those guys met each other at our shows. The label that formed to put out our music put out that compilation. there's going to be a Busted at Oz reunion at Riotfest, but we're not playing it.
So if people want to see you they'd better get to the Abbey Pub this Saturday?
Naked Raygun is playing with the original drummer (at Riot Fest). And there are two other Chicago bands that are going to play (at The Abbey Pub) -- Radar Eyes, they're really good, and they have another librarian in their band.
DA! will be playing at The Abbey Pub (3420 W. Grace) on Saturday. Doors open at 8pm, show starts at 9pm. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. For more info call 773-478-44087 or visit The Abbey Pub.