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December - Ideal Cleaners

L-R: Mike Keeling, Dan Jenkins, Ted Alesio

If you're a fan of local music, chances are good you've seen a band with Dan Jenkins playing in it. Either as part of a band or as a solo artist, Dan's been on many a downtown stage. He's been playing with Mike Keeling for a long time as well, and with the addition of Ted Alesio to the lineup Ideal Cleaners came to be.

SCS: Dan, youíve been around for a while, playing in Sailor Ripley, 13 County, Joe Buck, DbH, to name a few, and now Ideal Cleaners Why donít you tell us how and when Ideal Cleaners formed as a band, and give us a history of your musical career

Dan: Drive-by Honky broke up in November of 2002 and Mike and I decided to keep playing together. Trout played with us for a while too, but we all knew he was moving to Chicago, so he was basically just helping me out so I could flesh out some ideas I had. Ideal Cleaners started in February when Mike and I started playing with Ted. Mike and Ted have played together in various projects over the years and I knew that not only did they sound really good together, but they also just loved playing with each other (musically, of course). So it just seemed natural. As far as my musical "career", you pretty much summed it up. I would like to add the short-lived And Then There Were None (aka The Amy Huffman Band). We only did one show, but it was lots of fun. And playing in Drive-by Honky was really like playing in several different bands over the years because there were so many changes. The band kept changing but we kept the same name. There were some other bands before Sailor Ripley, including some awesome metal bands in high school.

SCS: What about you, Mike, youíve been in every band that has ever existed in Lincoln, and probably a few that didnít, letís hear your pedigree.

Mike: I started playing out at the tender age of 14. i did weekends with a rock/fifties/country cover band. i'm talking elks clubs, d.a.v. halls, and redneck bars in towns like kenesaw and republican city. i made entirely too much money for a kid that age. i spent most of it on records and pot(don't tell my mommy). i moved to los angeles after high school and tried to get a band together with a guitar player from missouri. we never got it off the ground. after a year or so i came back to nebraska, enrolled at the university, started the leafy green things and drinking large amounts of booze, dropped out of school, and that was the beginning of the end,................i mean the beginning of my brilliant musical career.

Dan: He was also in Leafy Green Things, Rosebud, The Millions, The Self-Righteous Brothers, Drive-by Honky, Thirst & Howl.

SCS: Ted, you play in The Skinny, The Return, two excellent power-pop bands, what else have you done over the years.

Ted: Mainly I've played in various groups with Dan Kaspari. From about '86 - '92, we played together in Out of Habit - another power pop band, but more experimental than straight pop. Then in the mid 90's I played with Dan in KAB - pop and a little funk. In '98 we formed Broken Crown which changed names to The Skinny in the summer of '02. In '01, Mike and I backed up Ben Kushner in Thirst & Howl for a handful of gigs and recorded a few tunes with him. That's about it.

SCS: Dan, how would you describe the sound youíre going for in IC?

Dan: Ummm....Post-punk jock rock? I don't know. I'm not going for anything specific, and I don't really think about it like that. I write a lot of different stuff, but it just seems that lately it's been heavier, I guess. I've heard people describe us as "metal" which I think is just silly. I've listened to a shit-ton of metal in my day, and we're not metal by a long stretch. That just seems to be an easy way to describe anything heavy, but it's not very accurate. I don't even think of us as very heavy, really. I wouldn't say we're "poppy", but that seems to be a generic term used for anything catchy, which I suppose some of our songs are. We're currently working on some stuff that, to me, seems quite a bit different than what people have heard from us so far. I'm going to try and exploit the fact that Mike and Ted can play some funky shit like nobody's business. Maybe we're just too new a band to have a defined sound or something, and I like it that way. Hopefully I'll never be able to answer this question.

SCS: Itís a lot different than anything else Iíve seen you do before, what took your songwriting in this direction?

Dan: Probably the increase in my intake of uppers. Maybe some of it comes from the fact that while Ideal Cleaners was taking shape I was also writing stuff for PILL SHOVEL, a stoner rock band that keeps rearing its ugly head but never seems to materialize. I also knew that I wanted to do something different than what I'd done previously without trying to do something that didn't seem natural. I probably could have went straight-up country or tried to do some electronic computer wizardry, but I definately wouldn't have been happy doing anything like that. Basically, I just wanted it to reflect more of what I would want to hear from a band. So far, that's meant a more aggressive sound, but we're definately not going to be limited to that. When Ideal Cleaners was still in the developmental phase, I told several people that my goal with this new band was to have fewer fans. So far, I think we're on the right track.

SCS: I donít want to focus attention on your past projects, and Dan, I know you try to be VERY diplomatic when discussing other people, so I donít want to you dis anyone, but I have to ask this one question: What precipitated the break-up of Drive-by? What made you feel it was time for a change musically, rather than just, say, keeping going with DbH without John Taylor?

Dan: No juicy tidbits here. I'll just stick to the facts. In the end, DBH consisted of 4 individuals who liked to do things in very specific, very different ways, which often meant we weren't very productive, especially towards the end. The 4 of us got along surprisingly well considering how different we all were, and we still remain good friends. The band broke up when we got together for practice and Jon told us he was quitting. Then Trout told me he was moving to Chicago. This all happened in a space of less than 5 minutes. I think we had one more practice as a 3-piece just to see what it was like. I considered keeping the circus rolling, and decided to sleep on it. I woke up the next morning and the first thought I remember having is "I feel really good about not doing this anymore". As a matter of fact, I was excited about not doing it anymore. But it was still a little scary. You know, in the big picture it all seems so silly that we take all of this so seriously. But I had been in this band for 5 years and am pretty sure I thought about it EVERY DAY for 5 YEARS. And then it was over. Just like that. But it felt good.

SCS: What types of musicians/groups influenced your members?

Ted: Among others: Musicians - John Bonham, Mitch Mitchell, Keith Moon, Bernard Purdie, David Garibaldi, Zigaboo Modeliste, Al Jackson Jr., Stewart Copeland, Tony Williams, Steve Gadd. Groups - Led Zeppelin, Bowie, The Jam, The Clash, Elvis Costello, XTC, The Buzzcocks, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Who, VU, The Kinks, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, The Meters, Beck, Wilco, Cotton Mather, Radiohead, Flaming Lips, Os Mutantes, Spoon, Super Furry Animals.

Dan: Early influences: AC/DC, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan, The Bay City Rollers (seriously). Used to listen to lots of metal. Later on: Fugazi, The Who, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Archers of Loaf, Pavement. Record labels like Sub Pop, Dischord and SST always had lots of great bands that I listened to later on.

Mike: honestly, my brain hurts from even considering the question.

SCS: Dan, weíve talked about your plan to play outside of Lincoln more than you play here. Is that just not to oversaturate the market here, or do you just really hate Lincoln that much?

Dan: I have nothing against Lincoln (other than that movie house monstrosity that they're building downtown). It's really just a personal preference. Lots of bands will live out their entire existence without leaving town, which is fine, but I just don't want to do that. In all honesty, we're all basically playing for the same people over and over again here in Lincoln. I like setting up my equipment and playing in front of a bunch of strangers who have no idea what you're going to do. And besides, it's fun to hop in the van and hit the road. I remember bands like Mercy Rule and Sideshow only playing Lincoln once every couple of months and spending the rest of the time on the road. When they did play here in town, it was like a big event, not just another show. It's hard to get excited about seeing a band every time when they play 3 or 4 times a month or something. But I also realize that it's not always easy to get out of town shows and that it's good to play as much as possible. So there are 2 or more sides to the issue. As much as I'd love to take our band out on the road for a couple of weeks at a time, we're just not in that position. But at the same time, we're not going to resign ourselves to just one town.

SCS: What is the name of the first album going to be, and when will it come out?

Ted: "The H is O!" if I have my way. It would be nice to have something available for consumption in the next 4-6 mos. Plans are to do a 7" first to be released sometime in January.

Dan: I think we'd be getting a little far ahead of ourselves by trying to answer that question. But I'll do it anyway. Our first album will be a double album (on vinyl only) called either "History of Plum" or "Thank Christ for the Bomb" or "GO, GO BIG BUSINESS!" and will contain 27 songs of varying quality and questionable worth. The artwork will be completely white - white vinyl, white labels, no text - except on the cover there will be one drop of blood, lovingly sqeezed from Mike's finger. Limited to 32 copies. But hopefully before all of that, we'll put out a 7" with 3 or 4 songs on it. That is my one and only goal at the moment. (Well, that and washboard abs.)

SCS: If you could tour with any band from any point in history, who would it be?

Ted: Never really thought about it. I don't about The Stooges ca.'73 or Devo in the late '70's.

Dan: I'd have to go with the Genghis Khan Musical Revue and Traveling Sideshow. A 20 year tour that went all over China, into Russia, and then Europe. Now THAT was a fucking party!

Mike: The Go-Go's around 1982-83. From what i've heard, they could really go, y'know?

SCS: In the whole history of recorded music, what song do you wish you had written?

Ted: That Gary Glitter song that's played ad nauseum at all sporting events - can't remember the name of it. Think of the royalties! I don't think it would be as popular if people actually saw the video with the glam band synching to it.

Dan: That would be either "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" by Tom Waits, or "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead.

Mike: "We Are For Sale" by Dan Jenkins? Just kidding. How about any Dylan song written between 1965 and 74

SCS: I guess itís kind of funny asking you guys this, being related & all, but do you think the music scene in Lincoln is too inbred? Meaning people, playing in 2 or 3 bands at the same time; do you think it limits the scene in any way?

Dan: Lincoln's not that big, so the pool of musicians is pretty limited. That can make it hard to find people who aren't already in other bands. I guess it depends. I've always thought that it would inevitably lead to lots of mediocre bands, but that's not necessarily true. I wish people would focus more, but shit, I've been just as guilty of it as other people. I just want everyone to try harder. Myself included.

Ted: I think people should play with whoever whenever they want as long as all parties are cool with that going in. It's good to try different things - especially if you're stagnating with one band at a given time. I'd argue it's scene expanding to play with different bands unless they sound exactly alike - and then what's the point? The local scene isn't hurting or stagnating because people play in more than one band. Having played in 2 to 3 bands for the last 15 years I guess I would say that. Maybe I'm not the right person to ask.

SCS: Do you think growing up in Lincoln influence your music, as far as say the other musicianís you played with, etc.

Ted: It's hard for me to think that growing up in Lincoln has had much to do with it - aside from being the place where I've met all the people I've played with. I know bandmates can't help but influence your music, but that happens anywhere you grow up. Not sure growing up in Lincoln has had a big impact on my musical tastes - maybe it has. I suppose I've fantasized about moving to a city with a thriving music scene and opportunities to be found. More than anything I've been dismayed about the lack of interest in Lincoln's local scene over the years. Not sure that influences the music as much as one's attitude about pursuing it here - which I guess could show up in the music somehow.

Mike: Many of my best friends are people that i have either played with or watched perform over the years. Is that an answer?

Dan: I didn't grow up in Lincoln, but I think every band I've been in has had some influence on me. Not necessarily musically, maybe ideologically or just helping me figure out how NOT to do things. I do remember picking up on some things that Rich Higgins (Sideshow) was doing on guitar. And there's a guitar chord/change that I picked up from Jon Taylor back in the Mercy Rule days. Jason Anderson calls it "The Lincoln Rock Chord" even though it is in no way limited to Lincoln. I grew up in a small town where I learned how to love loud rock guitars, ala AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Metallica. I also learned how to fight with axe handles, but I'm not sure if that's influenced my music much.

SCS: What do you like and dislike about the music scene in Lincoln?

Dan: For the most part everyone's encouraging and the majority of bands get along just fine on a personal level, not that it's necessary or anything, but it's nice. There are lots of good bands and there is a wide variety of sounds to be had. A person should be able to find something they enjoy. They just need to look. It would be nice if more people went to shows.

Ted: Lincoln has a good variety of bands, many deserving of a wider audience. The general lack of interest and support in a town of decent size is what sucks.

SCS: What was your most memorable live performance and why? And you can make that just Ideal Cleaners if you want, or you can each answer for yourselves with your different bands.

Ted: Opening for Criteria/Jets to Brazil at the Sokol Underground last July was memorable because it was probably the biggest crowd we've played for.

Dan: Yea, I'd agree with Ted on that one. My memory's not so good, so I guess the last show we played was probably the most memorable, but I don't remember exactly when that was. What was the question again?

Mike: The Self-Righteous Brothers show in Vermilion, chaos on and off the stage, a seething drunken crowd, a terrifying exodus from the stage, pandemonium!!!!!!!!!!!

SCS: Who do you think is the most underrated artist in the music industry?

Dan: I think David Berman of the Silver Jews is one of the greatest lyricists around, but few people know who he is.

Ted: Stew/The Negro Problem.

Mike: Peter Parrett of The Only Ones. He's been a junky recluse for the last twenty years. If he had died at 27, i think he would be...dead and much more popular.

SCS: Who was the first person or band you saw that made you want to play music?

Dan: Eddie Van Halen. He's the guy that made me want to play guitar. After that it was John Marteny, the local guitar hero in my home town who could just BLAZE away on his home made Gibson Firebird. I still have some of his "jam" tapes. He was also the first guy I knew who went to the State Penitentiary.

Ted: Although you wouldn't know it, I've been playing since age 5. Can't remember a person or band making me think I must try it. Guess the first toy drumkit my folks bought me worked.

Mike: my brother John

SCS: What was the first album/CD you bought?

Dan: Motley Crue "Shout at the Devil" on cassette. My first 7" vinyl was either Joan Jett "I Love Rock 'n Roll" or Loverboy "The Kid is Hot Tonight". First CD was Slayer "South of Heaven".

Ted: Kiss - Destroyer

Mike: I'm pretty sure it was Jimi Hendrix "Smash Hits"

SCS: Whose music are you listening to right now?

Ted: Broadcast, Sleepy Jackson, Let's Active, Television, Jim O'Rourke.

Dan: Literally, right now I'm listening to Yo La Tengo. But if you mean in general, I've been listening to The Constantines, Q and not U, Uncle Tupelo, Blonde Redhead, Neil Young's "On the Beach", Television's "The Blow Up", Hot Snakes, The Minutemen, Mousetrap, Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood, and I'm starting to listen to jazz again, after a long hiatus. Mostly Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Wayne Shorter and early Herbie Hancock. I have to write "early" so people don't think I'm listening to "Rock It". Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Mike: libertines, hot snakes, talking heads, the fall, broadcast, dismemberment plan, god bullies, american music club, ella fitzgerald, spoon, the dining rooms, early eighties iggy pop stuff, alejandro escovedo, ..................

SCS: List off you top five albums of all time.

Dan: I knew you were going to want me to do this. I hate doing this. I don't see how anyone can do this. But Americans LOVE lists! Top 10s, Worst Evers, etc, etc..... I'll do it, but I can't do 5, and I'm not going to put them in order. These are just the ones that immediately pop into my head:

  • "Velvet Underground & Nico" / "White Light,White Heat"
  • Sonic Youth: "Daydream Nation"/"Washing Machine"
  • Pavement: "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain"/"Slanted and Enchanted"
  • Fugazi: "Repeater" / "In on the Killtaker"
  • Tom Waits: "Swordfishtrombones"/"Raindogs"/"Blue Valentine"
  • Van Halen: "Fair Warning"
  • The Stooges: "Funhouse"
  • The Minutemen: "Double Nickles on the Dime"
  • Wire: "Pink Flag"
    Now I feel dirty.

    Ted: Today, my top 5 of all time are:

  • Os Mutantes - self titled
  • The Meters - Look-Ka Py Py
  • Captain Beefheart - Clear Spot
  • XTC - Drums & Wires
  • Beck - Odelay

    Mike: My brain hurts again

    SCS: I just listened to Odelay the other day for the first time in years, that's weird...Who/What do you think is the embodiment of evil in the music industry?

    Dan: Is Dick Cheney involved in the music industry? Yea, that's it - my answer is Dick Cheney.

    Ted: Britney Spears

    Mike: The music industry

    SCS: What can we expect to see from Ideal Cleaners over the next year?

    Dan: New songs. Better hygeine. Clean shirts. Tighter pants. Hopefully, we'll put out some music.

    Ted: Product. New songs. Shows.

    Mike: Dan's belly button

    - Tery Daly