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The Screeching Weasel Personality Test

Posted by Gabe Meline on Feb 20, 2009 | Comments (8)

Dear Jay Pullman,

You’re a neat guy and all, which is why I’m completely confused by your pick of Wiggle as your Screeching Weasel album of choice. You say, and I agree, that “You can tell a lot about a person by their favorite Screeching Weasel album.” Here’s how I might break it down:

 

The person who picks BoogadaBoogadaBoogada is most likely someone who still embraces their juvenile side and makes a lot of fart jokes. May have trouble in relationships, may also have trouble in any academic pursuits. However, it must be noted that this person is insanely fun to be around.

 

The person who picks My Brain Hurts is a no-nonsense pragmatist who occasionally dabbles in pseudo-intellectualism—while admitting to the “pseudo” part. Could possibly describe themselves as a “serial monogamist” since they’re too romantic to notice that love dies. Is balanced, but incidentally loves to drive fast.

 

The person who picks Wiggle is confused and misguided, who pushes on doors clearly marked “pull” and returns time and again to a restaurant that gives them food poisoning. Stuck between making clever threats about the real world and snide pop-culture jokes. An utter bore.

 

The person who picks Anthem for a New Tomorrow is idealistic, and is as interesting as one can be who follows the pack. May wear nice shoes and have an education, with luck in love and with snappy repartee. Does not care what others think, but most certainly conforms to a set of internal rules.

 

The person who picks anything after Anthem for a New Tomorrow or who picks the obscure self-titled debut is either completely retarded or is lying.

So: You picked Wiggle. However, I have hung out with you, and you do not seem confused, nor misguided, nor a bore. Is it a Chicago thing? I can’t tell you how excited I was when Wiggle finally came out, and how completely shattered me and my girl were when we brought it home from the record store. It’s such a lazy record, musically and thematically. I got rid of it a few years ago, and immediately felt much better.

Please explain. (And by the way, I’d pick My Brain Hurts.)

Love,
Gabe


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8 comments

  1. Jay Pullman
    February 21, 2009

    Dear Gabe,

    I don’t frequent restaurants that have given me food poisoning but thanks for asking!

    No, seriously? You’re going to argue that the band’s best lineup they ever recorded with is the equivalent of pop-punk salmonella?

    I really don’t want to chalk it up to being a Chicago thing. It’s a total cop-out and says more about the people you listen to these records with more than you, but for some reason no one in the Bay Area seems to get this album. It’s the same reason why everyone here seems to have either never heard of, or just dislikes, the Vindictives. I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what that reason is but they’re one and the same.

    Anyway, I’ll keep it plain so as not to intensify my confusion and misguidance. Here are just 10 reasons why I love Wiggle (or why your list is bullshit).

    1. Danny Vapid on guitar. He only played guitar on one other album. I’ll give you a hint: it’s your favorite. What gives?

    2. Like a Parasite. Co-written w/ Joe “Queer” King, and performed by both bands, this is the quintessential version and one of the greatest, sleaziest pop-punk love songs of all time.

    3. It could, maybe, yes, I can imagine it as a Ramones album. Which isn’t bad for a band that only ever wanted to be the Ramones.

    4. This is an anti-love album, for the most part. It’s songs are dark and dysfunctional and painful underneath the bubblegum veneer in a way similar to how some circus clowns are scary as fuck. It just comes from such an honest, totally self-aware, hopelessly romantic if somewhat disgusting place that I think they really peaked when they put it together.

    5. Going off the last point, it is a wonderfully cohesive album and not just 15-20, 2-3 minute songs slapped on a record.

    6. High School Psychopath – My favorite of Danny Vapid’s few writing credits.

    7. Retarded or lying? You’re way too hard on How to Make Enemies and Irritate People, which is a good way to irritate and make an enemy out of me and a lot of other SW fans (back in Chicago at least).

    8. Although you nailed the description for BBB, your pragmatic romantic who can’t get enough of My Brain Hurts is ridiculous. Of all their albums, that’s the only one any of the jocks ever listened to. I would hardly describe them as “serial monogamists.” But please don’t let that diminish the awesomeness of this album (not sarcastic, it really is a great album).

    9. Automatic Rejector. Could have named the album after this song. Maybe you would have liked it better then?

    10. Crying in my Beer. The best slow SW song there is and one I can’t help but belt out on the acoustic guitar when the opportunity presents itself. The worse, the better.

    Look Gabe, Wiggle is about not being able to escape the one you love even if its the most painful thing in fucking existence… but in a fun, f-you kinda way, you know? The irony of how little these songs would actually impress or spark a romance with any object of affection is not lost here. Are you taking it too seriously? Not to generalize but you born-and-bred bay area folks have been known to do that from time to time.
    I guess I just love the fact that this album makes fun of itself in the most honest, pathetic and genius way.

    All I can say is I’m very aware of the split decision on this album and that is exactly what I meant by being able to tell a lot about a person based on their favorite. And what I can tell about you, Gabe, is that you are definitely from California (so I’m just happy that you love Screeching Weasel (almost) as much as I do).

    Love,
    JP

    Reply
  2. Gabe Meline
    February 21, 2009

    Dear Jay,

    Thanks for reminding me about some of the hidden slivers of greatness on Wiggle. “Like a Parasite” is a terrific song, you’re right, and come to think of it, “Hanging Around” hit me at the perfectly ripe old jaded age of 17, when I started hating the idea of pointlessly hanging out. Also, to this day, the extended intro to “Second Floor East” never fails to throw a slight shiver in my spine.

    “Second Floor East” is a good example of the dark, dysfunctional and painful element you cite, but the rest of the record, wrapped up, as you point out, in a bubblegum veneer, is precisely the reason I don’t like it (coincidentally, I see nothing scary at all about circus clowns). I will grant you this: it is honest, and self-aware. That’s why I call it lazy. With songs like “The Science of Myth” and “What We Hate,” it felt like Ben Weasel was truly crafting well-sculpted compositions out of pop-punk and reinvigorating the genre in the process. A door was opened for pop-punk to do something more than just rehash Ramones guitar riffs and complain about high school. But with Wiggle, that’s exactly what Screeching Weasel fell back on. When I think of Wiggle I sadly think of “Jeanie’s Got a Problem With Her Uterus,” or dumb songs like “I’m Not in Love.”

    I think My Brain Hurts is a more romantic album—before, perhaps, hopelessness has totally sunk in. “She sits beside me breathing different air than me,” “I try to speak, my mouth’s dry, I’m weak, I’m sure you’ve got a boyfriend and he’s probably a lawyer or something.” Lines like that are all over the record. Okay, okay, you’re right, Wiggle in content might be more pragmatic in its self-deprecation, but I still say My Brain Hurts appeals more to the type of nimrod who would actually refer to themselves as a “serial monogamist.” One who likes Wiggle would cut through the bullshit and just say “loser.”

    Mitigating Circumstances: In 1991, I had an advance cassette of My Brain Hurts before it came out. Imagine being 15 and being the only one who had a copy of what was destined to be a landmark album! It happened with Kerplunk, too. Driving around, listening to those cassettes over and over, they were my little treasure—you can see how that’d affect me.

    Off of this absolute love for the band, I anticipated for months seeing Screeching Weasel at Gilman in 1993. It became a semi-notorious show, because they only played for 20 minutes before Ben darted out the side door, hopped in a car and drove away. I was crushed. I link that atrocity of a show with Wiggle. Nothing was the same after that.

    You’re on to something with the Chicago / Bay Area differences. You’re right, we take things too seriously–we especially did in the early ’90s. We, too, love albums about “not being able to escape the one you love even if its the most painful thing in fucking existence,” but see no ironic allure in trying to do it in a “fun, f-you kind of way.” After all, we bred Jawbreaker.

    And yes, we totally never understood why anyone would want to listen to the Vindictives.

    No jocks I knew ever liked My Brain Hurts. Then again, no jocks I knew ever liked Screeching Weasel at all, which is probably due to the Chicago element. Were Screeching Weasel really that huge in their hometown? Because it was only the punks that liked ‘em out here. Until Anthem for a New Tomorrow, at least.

    Love,
    Gabe

    P.S. I’ll give How to Make Enemies and Irritate People another listen. And it might seem weird, but I think Emo deserves some credit, simply because of its lyrics.

    Reply
  3. Jay Pullman
    February 21, 2009

    Dear Gabe,

    It all makes complete sense to me now. Thanks for confirming the suspicions I had about our regional differences. When you give How to Make Enemies and Irritate People another spin, try holding a tallboy up to it instead of a candle.

    Love,
    JP

    Reply
  4. Gerry
    February 21, 2009

    “you broke my fucking heart” 7″.
    All you need….but you need 2 copies of it.

    Reply
  5. Kate
    February 21, 2009

    Hooray! I chose “My Brain Hurts” as well! That was fun.

    Reply
  6. lepue
    February 23, 2009

    sorry, gang, you’re all wrong. “television city dream” is the best album they put out, start to finish. there’s not a weak spot on it, the songs are well written, it was produced perfectly and sequenced amazingly. i know someone’s going to talk about a boring line up, or that they were just putting something out to give the fans what they want, but it’s still an awesome record. it’s got snappy lyrics, as well as sappy ones that’ll still give you goose bumps. anyway, i don’t know if there’s a story behind the album, but i like it, so that’s my vote. don’t know where that puts me on your personality test, since the album’s not up there, but i enjoyed your breakdown – especially the “wiggle” one. i agree – it’s got some great tracks, but “jeannie” should have been left on the cutting room floor. just the first 10 seconds make me cringe and i’ll dive across the room to hit skip. ugh.

    oh, yeah, the formula 27 ep is pretty great, too.

    Reply
  7. Michael
    August 28, 2009

    I love the idea of a SW personality test, but your execution failed due to your personal biases and preferences. The test needs to be objective and each album should reflect both positive and negative aspects of personality traits.

    As for me, I have a tough time deciding between Anthem and Emo. The sound of Anthem, never quite captured again in later recordings, ushers in a dreamlike world. It’s a magical album. My Brain Hurts has some great songs, Guest List, Science of Myth and My Brain Hurts, but most of the album feels.. sophmoric.

    The problem with Wiggle, for me, is the sequencing and terrible recording quality. I made my own wiggle recently with this line up and it really improved the album:

    Joanie Loves Johnny
    Like a Parasite
    Slomotion
    Amy Saw Me Looking At Her Boobs
    The Girl Next Door
    Crying In My Beer
    Second Floor East
    One Step Beyond
    Jeannie’s Got a Problem With Her Uterus
    Automatic Rejector
    Sad Little Girl
    It’s All In My Head

    Emo sounds like shit, but it has their best songs. By denouncing people who like the album Emo has retarded, your test loses all credibility. But I love the idea, so please try again and be more balanced.

    Reply
  8. colin
    November 8, 2012

    Emo, and i am only slightly handicapped and not full on retarded.

    Reply

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