Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chicago band Penthouse Sweets releases fine new album


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Chicago band Penthouse Sweets delivers the musical goods in electrifying fashion on its latest album, "It's Fine It's Fine It's Fine."

The power pop band, comprised of Andy Hansen on lead vocals and guitar, Lou Hallwas on guitar/vocals, Eric Chial on bass and Adam Yoffe on drums, combines catchy melodies with punched up pop rock to make an album sure to appeal to all music lovers.

Penthouse Sweets will perform Jan. 4 at a CD release party at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago.

Warm Ones and The Safes are also on the bill. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $10, available at www.schubas.com.

I had the chance to talk to Hansen about the making of the new album.


Q - Your new album, "It's Fine It's Fine It's Fine," was recorded in the basement of a house. How was that experience and what do you think it added to the album?


Actually it wasn't recorded in our basement. Lou and I have been living in the house depicted on the cover and practicing in the basement for five years now. 

It's been like a clubhouse sorta deal and some of its quirks and personality have rubbed off on us and the music. That's why the art has been so focused on the house.

But we actually recorded the album in a proper studio. Maybe we'll do the next one in the basement.

Q - What were your goals for the album and do you think you accomplished them?

We didn't really have any goals beyond capturing the batch of tunes we had as well as we could. Yea, I think we did that.


Q - How has the band transitioned since the departure of your keyboard player? How do you think the band has evolved since first forming in 2002?

There's a lushness/fullness that you can achieve with a keyboard player that you can't get so easily without one. I miss that sometimes, but mostly I don't. 

With less dudes playing, everyone's part becomes more important...so you can't hide behind stuff and your part's gotta be good. I miss playin/hangin with Eric (Quinlan - keys) though. Great dude. 

He came up with the album title when, in response to something (don't remember what), he banged thrice on a snare drum, while declaring "ITSFINEITSFINEITSFINE". Plus it's easier to wrangle four guys for a practice or a show.

We started when our previous band, The Dorks, broke up. We wanted to get away from the pop-punk kinda stuff we were doing in The Dorks, and into more varied material.

Lou got on board and helped widen the scope. It's evolved with the departure or addition of people...everyone brings their own style and personality...and changes the shape a bit. 

Adam is newest, he came on board over the summer and I'm psyched to see where things are headed with him when we really get down to writing new stuff. 

Q - What is the meaning behind the band's name? Any reference to 1970s glam rock band Sweet?

No real meaning. It was just slightly better than the other possible names we had scribbled down at the time. I don't know Sweet too well. 

Q - The Chicago area has also produced such power pop bands as Cheap Trick and Shoes. Do you consider those bands influences? Who are the band's biggest influences?

Not so much for me, but Lou is pretty into Cheap Trick and Material Issue. He played 2nd guitar in a recent reunion of remaining (R R R....alliteration!) Material Issue members.

Influences are different for each of us, but we come together on the classics, Neil Young and The Stones probably being the biggest ones.

Q - What the band's short-term and long-term goals?

Personally, I just want to get more stuff done. More songs written and more records put out. 

Our approach to the band for most of it's history has been pretty casual - an excuse to hang out, drink and play. Which is great, but we don't have a very extensive discography to show for it. 

Looking to change that.