Smile Politely

Return of the Rail

Word is getting out: The Brass Rail, the dean of Big Ten dive bars, is booking live music on a regular basis again. The first in what will hopefully be a long line of memorable performances in the venerable establishment will be this Thursday, December 3, featuring local stalwarts the Chemicals and local newbies Crane and Badger, fronted by Justin Hedrick of Monster Honkey. Showtime is 10 p.m., and cover is $4.

To commemorate this joyous occasion, emails were traded with Aaron McCallister of the Chemicals and Hedrick, delving into their feelings on reviving a downtown Champaign institution, as well as breakfast foods.

Smile Politely: It’s great that the Rail is booking shows regularly again. What brought that about?

Aaron McCallister: From what I understand: recently, they entered into an agreement with ASCAP, where ASCAP will stop harrassing them over having shows. In the past, they wanted royalties for bands playing there, so shows had to be under the radar. Now, both parties can be happy. Mark Peaslee, one of the bartenders there and a guitar player in golden quality, is hoping to have shows there on a “Bi-Weekly” basis. He’s into that kind of stuff.

Smile Politely: What has been up with The Chemicals lately? Any news to report?

Aaron McCallister: The past few months we’ve been at Great Western Record Recorders, working on our first full length. So far we have seven songs tracked and are working on finishing them up… we have hopes to have it out this winter. It’s the first record I’ve ever attempted to fully record analog, and its been a blast so far. Other than that, playing shows as usual…. our never ending quest for tone.

Smile Politely: Looking at your MySpace, why doesn’t Andrew get his own nom de Chemical?

Aaron McCallister: Andrew changes people’s names on a regular basis, it seems. Like he’s got time to do that, he’s in fifteen bands.

Smile Politely: Has the band ever been compared to another band that you really didn’t think was appropriate? Do tell.

Justin Hedrick: Ever heard of Right Said Fred? and, “That was a great kelly clarkson cover you guys played”.

Smile Politely: So, tell me about Crane and Badger, if you please?

Justin Hedrick: Well. what to say? I’ve played guitar in monster honkey for seven years off and on. so, i started this band with two other guys that I liked hanging out with and about a month after we started jamming my wife and I’s little world was turned upside down with a really fucked up event, so a lot of the music and lyrics grew out of that.

It is plodding and heavy, with predominately spoken word vocals that are buried in the mix. we recently added a synth player named Matt Brombaugh, he is a nice boy. Thursday is our first show ever.

Smile Politely: Sorry those questions are pretty lame. Feel free to make up questions that you’d like to answer.

Justin Hedrick: I only have one question for you: King Vitaman, what ever happened to him? Do kids not feel like sharing an early morning meal with royalty??

Brass Rail photo from army.arch’s flickr account.

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