by Cory Kibler
Ideal Cleaners is, for all intents and purposes, a Lincoln music institution. This isn’t just because its members (Mike Keeling, Ted Alesio and Dan Jenkins) have been playing in Lincoln bands for a long while, and are thus supreme rock 'n’ roll elders of the area. It’s also because the Cleaners have been releasing quality grunge-core tunes for almost a decade. Between 7-inch recordings like Make Your Time and Tag, You’re Ick, and their previous full-lengths The H is O and Muchacho, they’re a force to be reckoned with. And if you try to reckon with them, you’ll end up getting reckoned yourself — possibly in front of your friends and family. Don’t be a hero.
This is especially true when it comes to their live shows. Keeling (bass guitar) and Alesio (drums) provide one of the most brutally powerful rhythm sections I’ve ever seen onstage, and Jenkins (vocals/guitar) can shred, wail, serenade and maintain a 1,000-yard-stare all at once. Their songs are usually a healthy mixture of humor, creep and aggression, and let it be said that this band has never sounded “slick.” Au contraire: They’re a raw uppercut resting on a bed of scrap-metal pilaf, served in a broken whiskey bottle.
Ideal Cleaners drops its newest SPEED! Nebraska full-length, Far As You Know, Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Bourbon Theatre with Sputnik Kaputnik & the Cherry Mashers and Her Flyaway Manner. This will be a rowdy show, so get there right after you eat dinner, but before you start feeling full. (That gives you a 20-minute window.)
To commemorate the release spoke with frontman Dan Jenkins about loud guitars, birds, bees and teenage sex parties.
Hear Nebraska: How does Far As You Know compare to The H is O and Muchacho? What should people know about it?
Dan Jenkins: Far As You Know has nine songs, whereas the other two had 10, but the CDs all appear to be roughly the same size and weight. Our last EP, Chord Jams, had five songs and it also seems to weigh the same as the others. This leads me to believe that the number of songs doesn't really affect the physical properties of the disc itself, which is surprising to me, but then again I only have a cursory knowledge of electronics and physics.
People should know that they'll love the album, and that it was recorded by Mark Wolberg at Plan C Recording Studio right here in Lincoln. Then it was mastered by Doug Van Sloun at Focus Mastering in Omaha.
HN: What were your aesthetic goals for the new record? (Subquestion: What are your aesthetic rock 'n' roll goals in general, both for what you write/record, and what you listen to?)
DJ: Our only real goals were to make the album audible and as awesome as possible. My personal aesthetic leans toward the loud and profane, but I don't really allow that to dictate what I listen to. We are now and forever a loud rock band, for good or for ill. At this point it's too late for us to be anything else. I like to write and record songs that allow me to play guitar in front of a loud amplifier. Playing guitar loudly is one of the best feelings in the world, and I feel some (but not too much) pity for those who never get to experience it.
HN: What kind of things inspired you during the making of this record, both musical and non-musical?
DJ: I like to hear what other people are doing musically and to experience their interpretation of what music is and can be. Great music always inspires me. Non-musically, I'm inspired by the birds and the bees, if you know what I mean.
HN: Oh, I know what you mean*. How important is the element of humor in your music?
DJ: Humor is important to me in all aspects of life, so I think it's natural for it to trickle into the music. We're a trio of goofy guys at heart, and we don't take any of this too seriously. The music always comes before lyrics and I usually just make them up at practice, to be refined later. But lots of times the goofy shit I'm singing about in practice to entertain myself just never gets refined, or I'll flesh out the lyrics to go along with the initial goofy shit. If other people think the lyrics are funny, that's great, but I swear I'm not trying to be a musical comedian. For the record, sometimes the lyrics are serious. Seriously.
HN: What is the current state of Lincoln music, and how do Ideal Cleaners fit within that landscape?
DJ: Lincoln music is doing just fine and it always has been. There are occasional ebbs and flows, but there's always something great going on. I like to include Omaha in this discussion too, since the cities are so closely tied together. Bands seem to get along better than they used to. Right? I guess I don't really know. As far as how Ideal Cleaners fit within the local landscape, I've asked Mike to answer that question. He says, "We're like parents at a teenage sex party." So there.
*He’s a zoology enthusiast.
(Photo by Eric Gonzalez)
Cory Kibler is a dude with an outdated bio. He loves horsies, booze and pigtails. On his drunk horses, that is.