Smile Politely

These guys are, well, Total Asshole(s)

In the course of this job, I have talked to a lot of people. I’ve met painters and cellists; punk rockers and acoustic singer/song writers. None of them have been quite as bizarre as Jack Maples. He’s one of the members of Total Asshole, a “novelty punk band all about being jerks.” When I asked him for pictures of the band, he sent me a series of adorable animal photos. Maples also provided me with links to a Japanese car commercial, a Wikipedia entry for Game of Thrones, and a pizza party music video. I wasn’t really sure what to do with all of that, so I found some pictures of the venue and decided to let the interview speak for itself.

Smile Politely: Where did that band name come from? I love it.

Jack Maples: I spent too much time over the past few years coming up with goofy names for bands and their albums for specific genres, and not enough/any time actually getting together with people to play any music. Total Asshole — with an album called Double Parked and a single called “Playing so loudly that the neighbors want to call the cops” — was a funny idea he had while walking home from work one day in the Summer of 2012. With nothing better to do when he got home, he recorded a demo of “Playing So Loudly”, “Double Parked”, and “2% tip”. Then I forgot about those awful original recordings for a year. Then a friend and I thought it would be funny to bring the project back to life, early Summer 2013, with two guitars and an “iPad drummer” with the songs pre-sequenced by myself to hit play and play along to together. It was really funny but fizzled a month into it.

SP: Who all is in the band?

Maples: This brings us to Total Asshole 3.0, the first lineup incorporating bass and an actual drummer! I moved into the same house as Jake Metz (where we had already been doing Urbana Basement things and brewing beer and doing other projects for a long time) and the original demos were found. Plans to make the project a reality started brewing. Austin McCann, a friend, eventually asked Jake and I if we would join a band he wanted to start, but he didn’t have material in mind. So I showed him Total Asshole recordings and he was into it and asked if we could just do that, as long as he didn’t play drums. Jake wanted to play bass. I wanted to play guitar. We didn’t have a drummer. Eventually, I had a run-in at a bar in Champaign with an old high school friend’s brother, and I remembered that the old high school friend (Dillon Cogan) had just started a PhD program at U of I. Dillion and I had played a set at the high school talent show together, so I remembered Dillon played drums, and a drummer was found! The four [of us] kind of just fell together, and the first practice involved some awkward first introductions, but luckily the four of us seem to get along really well and enjoy this goofy project.

The famous Mike n Molly’s beer garden

SP: Where is everyone in the band from?

Maples: We’re all around town. Me, Jake, and Dillon are former suburbanites who are now U of I students/alumni, and Austin crawled up here from Florida to show people cool movies.

SP: What’s your dream jam session?

Maples: My dream jam session would begin on a warm, sunny day, sitting out on the porch after all-night-through sleep. I’d choose a fig jam topped upon a half sliced, lightly toasted, gluten-free cornbread muffin (my favorite) from the Red Herring. That would really set me up for a lovely morning, but, as I’m known to be the number one jam fan, I’d be ready to jam again come lunchtime. This time I’d go for the mulberry cherry conserve, as made by Mark Hartstein, the most qualified jam connoisseur in the lands. I’d slap that jam on some toasted sourdough and call it lunch. By the time I’ve had dinner, you know I’d be ready for some more jamming. So maybe I’d get real serious into my jam, and make a jam flight — topped upon bites of plain cheesecake. Peach jam, Grandma’s raspberry jam, Rhubarb jam — if it’s jam, I’m jammin’ it.

SP: Sounds like a good jam jam. Where do you guys like playing?

Maples: We have played one house show in Urbana and one show at Canopy. So far, those were both pretty alright. Looking forward to our first out-of-town gig in the big city of Champaign! Road trippin!

Catch Total Asshole with The Neverhawks, Cody James, and Donkey Donker at Mike ‘N Molly’s tonight at 8pm. The show is $7.

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