- by Tom Dumarey
We know for a fact that The Reaganomics hail from the beautiful (I’m guessing… I have never been there) city of Joliet, IL and that according to their Facebook page, they like to eat food and drink beer. So they have that in common with the rest of us. Other than that though, surprisingly little is known about them.
Part of that can be attributed to the fact that they pretty much never tour. And you can leave out the ‘pretty much’ part. But also because Reaganomics albums are like original ideas that Donald Trump comes up with on his own. They are few and far between.
So when they do release an album, it is something to be cherished. Which is exactly why I have been neglecting my girlfriend ever since the release of ‘The Aging Punk,’ the band’s new album that appeared out of nowhere at the ass end of 2019. If I had bothered to make a ‘best of’ list, it would have been on there. That’s my way of saying you should really pick this one up.
In an effort to get to know them better, we asked them to list a couple of albums that have influenced them. And with an album named ‘The Aging Punk’ and a single called ‘Grown Ass Man,’ it should come as no surprise that the most recent of these albums was released back in 1999.
Weezer “Blue Album”
Greg Alltop (guitar, vocals): There are albums you and your friends listen to on repeat in high school. This is one of those albums for me. However, I continued listening to it over and over and over. I picked out every drum fill and tried to understand why that fill was perfect at exactly that moment. I analyzed why the track listening is in the perfect order. I tried to figure out why the melodies were so easy to sing along with. In my opinion, this is a perfect album. I reference something from this album in almost every song I write. It is the bar for songwriting.
Megadeth “Rust in Peace”
Greg Alltop (guitar, vocals): Fuck Dave Mustaine, right? Trump supporter, Chemtrail enthusiast, chronic grudge-holder. I get it. Buuuuuttttt… “Rust in Peace”. It introduced a new level of guitar playing and song writing in metal. The riffs shred so fast but every single note is intentional. Its speed metal but there is emotion and feeling behind it. My guitar teacher told me to buy this when I was 14. I did and I was blown away. All it takes is about 30 seconds into the first song and you are captivated.
Oh and you think you can play a riff from this album? Bad news, you’re playing it wrong.
Slayer “Seasons in The Abyss”
Eddie Cantu (drums): When I was about 11 I traded my RATM “S/T” to a friend for this album. This was the first time I heard this style of music... I was hooked. Them fast guitar riffs are what’s up, and Dave Lombardo’s drumming got me through my shitty paper route and skateboarding in the hood. Blast that shit.
Dead Kennedys “Plastic Surgery Disasters/In God We Trust Inc.”
Eddie Cantu (drums): Back in the day I was in my room listening to the radio when I first heard “Life Sentence” by DK on a local college station. I hurried and hit record on my tape deck (how old am?!). Peligro has the coolest drums on that song. Later while skateboarding with a friend I found $80 in the middle of the street and we went to Crow’s Nest (RIP). I picked up “Plastic Surgery Disasters” ‘cause it has the most songs on it. HOLY SHIT was that a good choice! That album has some cool/weird guitars n’ bass shit going on, and songs about Winnebagos and Halloween. You gotta listen that one all the way through every time.
Pink Floyd “The Wall”
Terry Morrow(lead vocals, guitar): PF’s discography is my childhood. Maybe that’s why I turned out to be such a weird cat. My dad would blast Pink Floyd at dinner time, and I always thought, “This dude is screaming, he doesn’t really sound good”, about Roger Waters. (“Don’t Leave Me Now” is the specific song, still hurts my ears) Say what you will about him, but I think RW is punk as fuck. He DIDN’T sound good vocally, but he had shit to say, and he created a place for himself. The contrast between his indulgent, pissy attitude against David Gilmore’s straight up beauty and finesse really woke me up as a young musician/composer. A song can have both extremes. This album has every range of emotion, and has straight up ridiculous moments, and I really feel the boldness and the conflict in the band to this day. As a fan of musical theater, I should not fail to mention that this thing tells a story of isolation and despair that anyone on earth can relate to.
The Living End “S/T”
Terry Morrow(lead vocals, guitar): I listened to only this album for 2 months straight and took it upon myself to learn as many of the guitar solos and chord progressions/vocals as possible. I practiced playing Chris Cheney’s complex picking patterns while singing, which shaped me as a writer and performer. This band is criminally underrated in America, but that isn’t so bad for me because I’ve gotten to play with them a handful of times and see them at little clubs in Chicago for the past 15 years. This album is a gem, and it came from out of nowhere. The best little punk rockabilly surprise ever! I was really into the Stray Cats when I heard this, and this album equates to “Runaway Boys” on steroids. Cheney’s vocals are so raw and bratty, and it just drives the lyrics home so hard. TLE taught me that punk rock didn’t have to be out of tune and gritty, it could be polished, with virtuosic players. Chris Cheney raised the bar for me and encouraged me to try to be more than a proficient guitarist in the punk context.
Type O Negative “Bloody Kisses”
Nick Mclenighan (bass, vocals): Type O Negative taught me it’s ok to seriously try making unique, personal music while also not taking yourself—or your art—too seriously. TONS of passion for creating earnest, emotionally-engrossing dark music while still taking the piss out of pretty much everything come almost in equal measure on “Bloody Kisses”, making it one of my all-time favorite albums. While darkly-tinted with down-tuned, aggressively distorted guitar and bass, a good chunk of the tunes are poppy, rockin’ bangers, inviting the solo head-bang or the Goth Sway (an actual dance, that I didn’t make up). Take “Black No. 1”, for example. At its core it’s a pop-rock love song. Sure, it’s 11 minutes, with a bizarre, slow organ interlude with icky mouth noises, but it always inspires involuntary head-banging (while making that face where you’re both seriously grimacing, but happy at the same time. You know that face). Other songs like “Set Me on Fire” or “We Hate Everyone” are fairly straight-up rock and punk. “Blood and Fire” makes me wanna ride a motorcycle, and I can’t forget to mention the psychedelic sitar of “Can’t Lose You”. Oh yeah, there’s those weird-ass tracks that are basically mash-ups of noise and sound clips. (I Should also note the album opens with exaggerated moaning… which can be embarrassing if played in certain company). All of this adds up to an album that is always interesting, always satisfying no matter how many times I listen through it.
The Lillingtons “Death By Television”
Nick Mclenighan (bass, vocals): The Lillingtons “Death By Television” is one of most fun albums to grace the earth. Every song features pristine execution of ultra-catchy vocal melodies soaring over bouncy, biting guitar-driven punk rock. Every track compels you to bob your head and move your body. Some songs are thrashers like “Murder on my Mind”. Other more boppin’ diddies like “I Saw the Ape Man” urge you to grab your buddies around the shoulder to belt along. Kody has an uncanny knack for creating some of the catchiest songs to ever grace my ears. “Death By Television” boasts a host legit punk classics: “Don’t Trust the Humanoids”, “I Need Some Brain Damage”, and “Black Hole in My Mind”, were etched into my memory the first time I heard them and never get old. Entertaining lyrics allow an escape into comic book/sci-fi adventure, offering release from life’s daily grind, or just a rockin’ good time. This album made me want to be in a band that plays super fun punk designed to make people move and feel good. This album is perfect for: car rides, getting through work, feeling better if you’re having a shit day, celebrating a great day, parties, cooking by yourself… pretty much all occasions. This album is essential. Always fun, and always leaves me feeling energized and happy.