Gentlemen Outtakes (Part 2)
Metro owner Joe Shanahan was one of the Afghan Whigs’ earliest supporters. His club (metrochicago.com) remains a must-play space for emerging bands and has hosted more legendary shows in Chicago than any other local space. Over the past 25 years, Shanahan has been sent countless demo tapes and CDs by artists trying to get his attention. Here, he talks about why the Whigs’ “Jugula” demos did just that. –Bob Gendron
Joe Shanahan: There was a certain gritty sound that was sort of working-class. It wasn’t real polished. In the same way the early Replacements stuff was coming to me–crunchy, good rock. Because [in] the Midwest back in those days, bands got gigs and went out and played in front of people that had regular jobs. This is how they spent their weekends: going to see good rock bands.
[There was] an alternative side of it; it was unique. There was a solid, gritty Midwestern vibe to it. New York was trying too hard. LA was already dressed up. When you think about 1989, you’re thinking Jane’s Addiction out there doing their psych Led Zep version of the grunge thing. And New York was way cool with Sonic Youth and all of that. And there was nothing wrong with that. That’s the juxtaposition. In the middle of the country, the Smashing Pumpkins were doing something that was very rooted in a hard-rock thing. Of course, then there’s the idea of Sub Pop. They were the total hip label. I think that had something to do with it. My attraction to it is that [the Whigs] were a no-bullshit band. It wasn’t window dressing. It was guys who played really great rock music.