It's a chilly January night as, one by one, the boys (all are in their early '20s) of Saturday Supercade enter a cozy little Mediterranean restaurant in Clifton to eat some falafel and talk about the past, present and future of their band.
For the uninitiated, Saturday Supercade play Punk Rock, and do it quite well. "The Cade" mine similar sonic terrain as such Pop Punk outfits as The Get Up Kids and New Found Glory, but are just as effective as those, and virtually every other band on the current Pop Punk landscape. Immediately upon hearing the rousing one-two punch of the opening tracks ("Simple Words" and "Leave It Like This") of their latest, and best record to date, Everyone Is a Target, you know these guys are for real. Guitars churn with interweaving precision, the taut rhythm section pulsates with reckless abandon and it's all topped off with Chip Kellam's expressive, impassioned vocals. Everyone Is a Target represents a giant leap forward for these four Cincinnati-bred kids, who honed their chops in the local Punk Rock scene.
"I think we all kind of grew up out of it. My first shows were Snot Boy '77, Bloody Discharge and Bitch Kicker," says original member and bass player, Casey Beagle.
"We've been together for five years, although we've been serious about half of those five years," says Kellam, also an original member and main songwriter of the group. "I was in a couple bands before this.
One of them was Year's End with Casey. The first band I played in was Dead Kennedys, Black Flag-ish Punk Rock. And then I was in an Emo-type band. We were more Indie sounding when we started; we definitely didn't come from a poppy background at all."
No doubt, Kellam is making a reference to the sleek, tightly-crafted sound of Everyone Is a Target as well as the more Pop-oriented arc of the band over the past few years. Recorded by Chicago-based producer Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio) in early 2001, Everyone Is a Target is a much more cohesive and textured effort than anything the band has previously released.
The most obvious reason for the progression was the addition of guitarist Brian Niesz and drummer George Jesse.
"Both Brian and George are excellent musicians and have helped shape the sound of the new record in a substantial way," says Kellam. "The main reason we decided to add a second guitarist was to sound heavier at shows, but Brian has added so much more to the band and our sound. And what can I say about George? He is an amazing drummer, and I don't know how we lived without him. But also, both these guys are two of our best friends and help balance the band out. It helps to have a difference of opinion sometimes and, of course, two extra people to play PlayStation with."
Niesz jumped at the chance to join The Cade in early 2000. "I always thought to myself, 'You know, dammit, if I could just play guitar for Saturday Supercade. They are the best band in Cincinnati,' " he says. "And word got around to me that they were looking for another guitar player. I was in another band at the time, so I felt guilty, but I just had to go and try it."
Jesse (formerly of the Punk band By the Grace of God) is The Cade's third drummer. Original drummer Rob Schumacher moved to Texas and his replacement, Aaron Berger, left shortly after recording the group's 1999 full-length debut on Red Leader Records, A Study in Adult Contemporary Punk Rock.
"Aaron quit the band because he was tired of touring," says Kellam. But not before granting The Cade a huge favor: Berger recruited Jesse.
"Aaron came into the music store where I work and asked me if I wanted to play drums with Saturday Supercade," says Jesse. "And at the time I had nothing going on, so I was into that idea. And I've known Casey and Chip a long time, so I thought it would be cool."
The aforementioned touring has taken The Cade to both coasts and back several times over the last four years, playing with such like-minded bands as Saves the Day, Less Than Jake, Cooter, Weston, At the Drive-In and the Pinehurst Kids. They had scheduled a short winter tour in support of Everyone Is a Target, but it was scrapped when their van's transmission went out.
As for The Cade's future direction, Kellam is ever-confident.
"It is my strong belief that every day we find a way to mature as musicians, and as a band, it helps us write better songs," he says. "I also believe that as our songs continue to evolve, our fans will. If we like what we're writing, I think there will always be people out there who will like it as well."
While there has been some major label interest, and Everyone Is a Target — released on the small indie label, Liberation — has done even better than expected, the guys are modest when asked about the The Cade's future aspirations.
"We just want to tour," says Kellam.
"I want to get to the point where we don't have to worry about scraping together the rent when we come home from touring," says Neisz.
"I want a new van," adds Jesse.
"I want to tour on a bus," insists Beagle.
Expect Saturday Supercade to get that and much more.
SATURDAY SUPERCADE's next show is Feb. 1 at the Void in Northside. For more info, check out their extensive Web site: www.thecade.com.