by Bryce Wergin
If you're from Nebraska and a fan of pop punk or songs about erections, there's no way you haven't heard of Straight Outta Junior High. The Lincoln wunk-rock (wussy punk) band has been keeping its ever-expanding fanbase laughing, rocking and singing along over the better part of the last decade. But their following doesn't end at the good life's borders. SOJH was featured on San Diego-based Pacific Ridge Records' tribute compilation to Blink 182 in 2006.
On Aug. 30, you can hear them cover "Fuck You, Aurora," by Alkaline Trio on Pacific Ridge's two-disc, 39-track tribute to the Chicago punk band.
I sat down with SOJH co-frontman and guitarist Nate Olson (originally from Grant, Neb.) to discuss the band's involvement in the Alkaline Trio tribute compilation, which features covers from the likes of Allister, August Premier, Punchline, The Wonder Years and many others.
Hear Nebraska: What’s Straight Outta Junior High been up to lately?
Straight Outta Junior High: The last thing we did was release a three-song album. To get on this compilation they wanted us to do a song, so they sent us some money to help record it. We figured since we’d be in the studio we should do some other songs too. We did that song, then we recorded The Lamb of Godzilla, which was three songs, “Fantasy Football,” “8th Wave” and “If I Was Dead.” We did that in December and put it out, so we’ve just kind of been trying to get that out there and play shows here and there. (Buy it here).
HN: What’s the story behind the Alkaline Trio tribute album? What brought it about and how did it come together?
SOJH: The Pacific Ridge Records guys did the same thing for Blink 182, and they had us on that tribute album, too. They came to see us when we played in San Diego like eight years ago when they were younger. Now they’ve started a label — they’ve put out two Blink 182 tribute albums. We were on the first one — we covered “A New Hope,” a song about Star Wars. We made it a little metal and totally mixed it up. So then they asked us to do this one, too.
HN: You guys do a cover of the Alkaline Trio song “Fuck You Aurora.” What made you choose to cover such an old, unknown AT song?
SOJH: I wanted to cover it because I thought it was catchy but it was terrible the way it was, like just six minutes of boring that drags on. So we shortened it down a bit and sped it up. I thought we could make it a little better than it was. It’s basically the same thing but it’s way faster and we took out some extra parts. We didn’t go too crazy mixing it around, but it’s just kind of a cliff notes version of the song.
HN: Was it different recording a song that is so different from your style of punk?
SOJH: We’re a little dumber and goofier. I don’t think Alkaline Trio ever releases songs that are dumb and goofy, you know? But I think at the same time we’re both kind of witty. They’re kind of melancholy and dark, but they still make jokes, like dark jokes. On that level we’re kind of the same. I just can’t write songs about dying all the time. I’m sure I’ve taken some stuff away from Alkaline Trio, but I just don’t get down as melancholy as they do. I just can’t quite get there.
HN: What does SOJH have lined up for the future?
SOJH: We went to the studio just to goof around. We wrote a bunch of radio show jingles to send to radio shows — if they want to use it, great, if not, we’ve got some music we can do something with. We also recorded different versions of the songs, so we’ve got like the radio version, then our sort of "Boner"-like version that just makes no sense but is hilarious. So right now, whatever the future holds. The way it worked with Lamb of Godzilla, that was just three songs we had sitting there and were like, 'let’s just do them.' I think we’ll kind of go that route, just the way the music industry is. Albums don’t really do that well anymore. I’m kind of changing the way I look at things, like I’ll just do a little bit at a time and go from there instead of writing 16 songs and spending a whole bunch of money on it. ... We just did these little things for fun. If something comes of it, great, if not, they make us laugh, so whatever.
HN: Anything else you want to tell our readers?
SOJH: We played Red Sky, that was about it as far as the schedule goes. Then I hurt my hand, so I had to play yesterday with two fingers. So until my hand gets a little better, I’ll probably not force any shows.
Bryce Wergin is a summer intern for Hear Nebraska. He got a nosebleed at his first SOJH show when the crowd did a "Braveheart" about five or six years ago. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.