Published in The Groove Guide – February 2012
It was halfway through my interview with Eddie “King” Roeser that I realised his band Urge Overkill had played the ’95 Big Day out along with Soundgarden. And, here they both were back in the country over the next couple of months. Roeser was ‘gutted” to learn that BDO was no more. 1995 was a big year for Urge, with the critically acclaimed Exit the Dragon already out and material for Saturation waiting in the wings. They’d toured with Nirvana and Pearl Jam and were enjoying success on the festival circuit both in the States and Europe. Add to that Tarrantino’s decision to drop their cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl you’ll be a woman soon” onto the Pulp Fiction soundtrack and you’d expect the Urge star to be hitting galactic heights. Then, it all went quiet. What happen? “I guess we just weren’t prepared, or ready. We’d moved from small independent labels (and smaller shows) to Geffen. The material was hard to play on stage and we weren’t that professional. We couldn’t stay in the grind of the big corporates.”
Over the following years line ups changed. Roeser and founding members Nash Kato feuded, resulting in Roeser leaving to work with Jim Kimball, formerly of The Jesus Lizard as ‘L.I.M.E.’ and with his brother John in the band ‘Electric Airlines’. Roeser now looks back philosophically at that time as “a bit of a waste. The solo projects didn’t really pan out. I also did some school, considered teaching. I didn’t really fit in with the “normal” working stiff lifestyle, either.”
In the meantime Kato and drummer Johnny Onassis kept Urge going. Finally after a break of several years, Kato and Roeser reformed Urge Overkill without Onassis. “I think over time we just got together and couldn’t really remember what it was that made us split up.” He described reforming with Kato in Soul mate terms – like “finding that band member that just fits and works right.”
In 2004 the reformed Urge performed shows at The Troubadour, (Los Angeles), Double Door, (Chicago), and Bowery Ballroom, (New York) and continued to tour through Europe, North America, and Australia. But it wasn’t until September 2010 on a NY Radio show that the first new Urge song, “Effigy” was played. “We’d all this material. And we’d worked with it for a while but we were going to put out a big release with publicity and everything. It didn’t work out that way”. Roeser says his still a bit stunned by the changing in the music industry between the early 90’s and now. “Back then the internet was hardly going. We’d have to sign a record deal and give up publishing rights t-shirts (sales) and everything. Now you can do it all yourself and all you have to do is get a good distributor. The really big stars are on big labels but everyone else now can own and control what they do.” He describes the demise of the record industry in his hometown Chicago that used to house buildings of executives (god knows what they did) and warehouses of product, which are now all gone.
This brings us back to the new release, 15 years on. Rock’n’Roll Submarine is a collection of songs with the bands signature 70’s/Cheap Trick bombastics. Initially a working title, it went on to be a metaphor of the band “like we’ve been submerged under the sea, in a time capsule.” The upcoming tour will take in Australian dates and a return to Auckland “where I had the best hamburger ever!” And also where he closely turned down the opportunity to fly into the erupting Mt Ruapehu in a Cessna flown by an inebriated dude he’d been partying with the night before. “Hey, maybe I should look the dude up and take him up on the offer!”
March 6, 2012, The PowerStation