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The Lawrence Arms
The Lawrence Arms
Background Information
Origin Chicago, Illinois
Genre Punk Rock
Years active 1999-present
Label(s) Asian Man
Fat
Associated Acts Slapstick
The Broadways
Baxter
The Falcon
Sundowner
Website http://www.myspace.com/thelawrencearms/
Members
Neil Hennessy
Brendan Kelly
Chris McCaughan

The Lawrence Arms are an American punk rock band from Chicago, Illinois, formed in 1999 and currently recording for Fat Wreck Chords. They have released five full-length albums and toured extensively. Their music and lyrics juxtapose references from history and literature with American pop culture.

Band HistoryEdit

Pre-historyEdit

Prior to forming the Lawrence Arms, the three band members were active in other Chicago-area bands. Brendan Kelly had played in the ska punk band Slapstick alongside Dan Andriano, who would later join Alkaline Trio (the two would reunite in 2004 to form The Falcon). Chris McCaughan had played in Tricky Dick before joining Kelly in The Broadways. McCaughan and Kelly also shared an apartment together on Chicago's north side. Neil Hennessy, meanwhile, had played in a band called Baxter. Both Slapstick and the Broadways released albums on Asian Man Records, a small record label based in Monte Sereno, California that would later release albums by the Lawrence Arms.

Formation and Asian Man yearsEdit

The three musicians came together to form the Lawrence Arms in 1999, taking their name from the apartment complex in which Kelly and McCaughan had lived before being evicted in the middle of the night. Although punk rock bands in their infancy generally start out by releasing EPs and 7" vinyl singles, the band members used their existing relationship with Asian Man Records to immediately begin recording a full-length album, A Guided Tour of Chicago, which was released later that year. A second album, Ghost Stories, followed in 2000. Both albums focused heavily on the members' own stories of growing up and living in Chicago.

The band's next two releases were split EPs with other bands. The first, a split with Shady View Terrace, was released in 2000 and was their first release to be recorded by Matt Allison, who would continue to record and produce all of their subsequent releases. A second EP, Present Day Memories, was released in 2001 and was a split with the band The Chinkees.

Signing to Fat Wreck ChordsEdit

The band's records and touring schedule had brought them to the attention of Fat Mike of NOFX, who signed them to his Fat Wreck Chords label in late 2001. Their first release on the label was a 7" vinyl single, part of the label's "Fat Club" series of 7" records. This was followed by the full-length album Apathy and Exhaustion, released in 2002. The album spawned the band's first music video, for the song "Porno and Snuff Films," and they toured extensively with NOFX and other bands from the Fat label.

Their next album was 2003's The Greatest Story Ever Told. Their most ambitious album to date, it demonstrated the band members' continued growth as musicians and songwriters and included extensive footnotes to the lyrics detailing their many references to history, literature and pop culture. It also showed an evolution in the band's vocal style. Kelly had sung most of the vocals on their first album, while on subsequent releases he and McCaughan had split vocal duties almost equally from one song to the next, with Kelly's voice tending to sound more harsh and urgent while McCaughan's sounds more relaxed and melodic. With this release, however, the two began to move towards more of a duet style of singing which would feature prominently on their next album. Extensive touring following the album's release saw the band on the road for much of 2003 and 2004. They also contributed a song to the Fat Wreck Chords Rock Against Bush, Vol. 2 compilation, leading up to the 2004 presidential election and became involved with the Punk Voter campaign.

The Lawrence Arms also played a portion of the 2004 Warped Tour, but the band's attitude towards the tour resulted in controversy. In a 2006 interview, Kelly claimed that the band "did like seven days of it and we got kicked off it, banned for life" for "pointing out the obvious flaws of the Warped Tour, on stage while the people running the Warped Tour were watching us."[1] When asked his opinion of the tour, Kelly responded:

Warped Tour, it’s destroying the economy of DIY; and it’s doing it very methodically and very successfully in that [the] summer touring season used to involve a bunch of bands, like Alkaline Trio for example, jumping on buses and taking smaller bands, like us and The Black Maria for example, on tour. There would be all these bands that would do that, so all these support bands would have great tours to go on. Kids in every town would have a bunch of different shows to go see, like over the summer. Small clubs would have big, good shows at least once a week if not twice a week, three times a week; and kids would have stuff to do. Now, all those big bands go on the Warped Tour. When they come to town, it’s for one day. It’s in a band shell, small clubs all across the US are closing down, they can’t afford to be open. Bands like us have to tour against the Warped Tour, which sucks; or tour on the Warped Tour, which sucks even more.[1]

He further likened the experience of Warped Tour to "going to a band shell and buying twelve dollar bottles of water and standing there watching your favorite band play from like a million feet away." He also criticized the tour's effect on punk rock and independent music as a whole: "Now people talk about the Warped Tour like it’s the greatest thing to ever happen to punk rock, it’s not the greatest thing to ever happen to punk rock - it’s single handedly dismantling the whole thing we’ve been fucking building for all this time and nobody gives a fuck...And that’s why it’s the worst thing to ever happen to punk rock, or DIY music in general."[1] Their next album, 2006's Oh! Calcutta!, included a hidden track entitled "Warped Summer Extravaganza (Major Excellent)" referencing their attitude towards the tour.[1]

The Falcon and Oh! Calcutta!Edit

In December of 2004 Kelly and Hennessy joined with fellow Chicago natives Dan Andriano of the Alkaline Trio (who had played with Kelly in Slapstick) and Todd Mohney, formerly of Rise Against, to form another band called The Falcon, and released an EP on Red Scare Records. Meanwhile, with interest in the Lawrence Arms increasing and their EPs out of print, Asian Man Records planned a CD release of the band's EP tracks. The resulting compilation album, Cocktails & Dreams, was released on Asian Man in June of 2005 and included their songs from both EPs along with nearly all of their compilation tracks, rare songs and b-sides.

The Lawrence Arms re-entered the studio in October and November of 2005 and recorded the album Oh! Calcutta!, which was released on Fat Wreck Chords in March of 2006. It had an overall faster and more urgent feel to it than their previous album, and demonstrated another step in the development of their singing as Kelly and McCaughan shared vocals in a duet style on nearly every song. They filmed a music video for the song "The Devil's Takin' Names" and toured, first with NOFX and then with the Alkaline Trio and the Draft.

Recent activityEdit

The Lawrence Arms spent most of 2006 touring extensively alongside bands such as Alkaline Trio, the Draft, Lagwagon and A Wilhelm Scream. A full-length album by the Falcon was released that Fall, and in December the band embarked on their first headlining tour of Australia also playing supporting shows with Frenzal Rhomb. In March of 2007 McCaughan released the debut album from his acoustic side-project Sundowner, titled Four One Five Two.

The band toured again in the fall of 2007, with their side projects The Falcon and Sundowner as openers along with the recently reunited American Steel. McCaughan also toured as Sundowner in Europe with Mike Park. Hennessy is currently touring with the Smoking Popes in support of their new album Stay Down.

Band membersEdit

DiscographyEdit

AlbumsEdit

Year Title Label Other information
1999 A Guided Tour of Chicago Asian Man First album.
2000 Ghost Stories
2002 Apathy and Exhaustion Fat Wreck Chords
2003 The Greatest Story Ever Told
2005 Cocktails & Dreams Asian Man Collection of b-sides and rare tracks.
2006 Oh! Calcutta! Fat Wreck Chords

EPs & 7" vinylEdit

Year Title Label Other information
2000 Shady View Terrace / The Lawrence Arms split EP Castaway/Asian Man Out of print. All songs reissued on Cocktails & Dreams.
2001 Present Day Memories Asian Man Records Split CD with The Chinkees. Out of print. All songs reissued on Cocktails & Dreams.
2002 Fat Club 7" Fat Wreck Chords Out of print. The band's first release on Fat Wreck Chords.

Non-album tracksEdit

Year Album/Source Label Song(s) Other information
2002 1157 Wheeler Avenue Failed Experiment "Nebraska" (live)
2002 Fat Music, Vol. 6: Uncontrollable Fatulence Fat Wreck Chords "Presenting: The Dancing Machine (Il Robot Con la Testa di Scimmia)" Track reissued on Cocktails & Dreams as "Presenting: The Dancing Machine (The Robot With the Monkey Head)"
2003 Oil: Chicago Punk Refined Thick "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" Track reissued on Cocktails & Dreams as "Joyce Carol Oates is a Boring Old Biddy"
2003 Experiments in Audio Rocketry 1-2-3-4 Go "Traditional"
2004 Rock Against Bush, Vol. 2 Fat Wreck Chords "Necrotism: Decanting the Insalubrious (Cyborg Midnight), Part 7" Track reissued on Cocktails & Dreams
2004 MySpace download none "Criminal" offered as a download on the band's official MySpace page, recorded in November 2004
2006 Oh! Calcutta! iTunes download "The Rabbit and the Rooster" Bonus track included with the iTunes download version of the album only. Later reissued as a track on a free Fat Wreck Chords digital holiday sampler.

VideographyEdit

Music VideosEdit

Year Title Album Other information
1998 "An Evening of Extraordinary Circumstance" A Guided Tour of Chicago
2002 "Porno and Snuff Films" Apathy and Exhaustion
2006 "The Devil's Takin' Names" Oh! Calcutta!

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Interview with Brendan Kelly

External linksEdit


Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at The Lawrence Arms. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Less Than Jake Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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