by Michael Todd
Nate Olson might be tired and maybe a little hungover on a Friday morning, but he still has a better memory than my boss, Andrew Norman:
"I hear you and Andy were in the same karate class back in the day," I inquire.
"That is a lie," Olson says, sounding a bit like this isn't the first time he's heard it. "I was on the same tee ball team with him in Grant."
I'd trust Olson on this one. Recently, he and his bandmates in Straight Outta Junior High compiled a list of every show they remember playing. They've recalled a total of 449 concerts starting with a battle of the bands at Abel Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus in 2000. The list includes a July 10, 2003, show at KC Hall in McCook, Neb., that inspired the letter below, as well as one in Pasadena, Calif., at The Old Town Pub that Olson points to as a night his life could have ended.
"I almost got stabbed by a homeless man because I made disparaging remarks about a cardboard cutout of a lady, a beer sign or something" he says.
From the many Knickerbockers sets to one at Grandview Elementary in my hometown of Alliance, Neb., Straight Outta Junior High has logged thousands of miles on the road and released six albums of "stupid music for smart people." Still, when asked if waking up today, about nine hours before the start of SOJH's presumed final concert in Lincoln, Neb., Olson says it doesn't feel any different.
"I want to go back to sleep just like every other day," he says.
After tonight's show at Knickerbockers, with two SOJH sets likely ending the 6 and 9 p.m. batches of bands, the four-piece humor-infused-power-punk outfit plans to play their last show in Omaha next month. Maybe it's the tiredness talking, but Olson sounds matter-of-fact when explaining the band's reason for quitting.
"Well, I think it takes a lot of time and effort to be in a good band," he says. "We don’t have enough time to do that to be as good as we should be."
Olson says he's glad he won't have to talk his bandmates — Matt Tatroe on drums, Benji Johnson on guitar and Louie Stites on bass — into practicing anymore. Other than that, though, he can't think of anything that might change among the four “Dudes and Guys and Things and Stuff.” And if they need a quick reminder of what playing in Straight Outta Junior High was probably not like, they have “Dudes and Guys and Things and Stuff" to turn to since that song made its way on Rock Band 3 as a downloadable track.
All in all, Olson says he can't stop writing, so expect to hear from his side project of funny songs about trains soon. Also, Tatroe drums for Screaming for Silence, and Johnson plays with Secret Weapon, so it's not as if the guys in SOJH will fade into obscurity. It just might be awhile before another band sings about having a boner in class.
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. He first went backstage at a show thanks to SOJH and the hallway to the gym at Grandview Elementary. Reach Michael at email@example.com.