What's up with Spanic Boys?

Milwaukee duo Spanic Boys holds the distinction of being one of the only father and son bands in rock and roll history. The band was thrust into the national spotlight early in its career when they appeared on "Saturday Night Live" as a last-minute replacement for Sinead O'Connor. Since then, they've appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," MTV, "Entertainment Tonight," "The World Cafe," "Morning Edition," and beyond.

They've issued a quartet of shimmering roots rock LPs on Rounder Records and two others since they parted with that company. One of the Rounder discs, "Early Spanic Boys," was a much-needed reissue of their long-out-of-print debut for Milwaukee's shambolic Permanent Records. Although they don't always have a high profile here at home, that doesn't mean that Tom and Ian Spanic aren't hard at work writing new material, recording themselves and others in their Lone Scout Studio, or gracing stages around the world. We recently contacted Ian and posed a few questions to find out what's up with The Spanics.

OMC: What have you guys been up to? I suspect lots of recording. Have there been many gigs lately?

IS: I've been producing quite a bit (The RipTones, Jim Liban, Robyn Pluer, (Indiana-based singer-songwriter) David Todoran, Instant Whip to name a few), and we've been in pre-production for our new album. The only dates we've been performing lately have been in Europe.

OMC: Can you tell us a bit about the latest Spanics record?

IS: The last Spanic record, "Walk Through Fire," came out in late 1998 as a limited, signed edition, and was sold exclusively through our web site (www.spanicboys.com). It's now available in small quantities through other sources and we've made a few MP3s available on the site as well.

OMC: What sort of projects have you been working on at the studio?

IS: Our production runs the gamut from world music (Celtic, French) to rock, rockabilly, blues, country and alternative. Our studio is our own private studio, it's not available for hire. However, if I'm interested enough in a band to produce them and I'm hired as a producer, Lone Scout is where I work. I'm very excited about the new RipTones CD, considering the last one charted high on the Americana charts and got a lot of critical attention. I expect this one to do as well if not better. The new David Todoran project is also receiving much attention, and the previous one is about to be released in Europe on a well-respected label. I've also completed the new Jeb Bonansinga (The RipTones' frontman) solo project, and some very interesting things are in the works with this CD.

OMC: Has there been label interest in the band or are you happy to control your own destiny at this point in your career?

IS: We've been approached by several labels, however, we have been focusing on publishing and producing as of late. We are in a unique position, due to our many national TV appearances, touring, etc., that we really don't need a label to establish us and find that we are quite happy with this arrangement for now. We're always open, however, and if we felt the situation was right, we certainly would look at it.

OMC: What do you think about this alt. country/insurgent country (whatever you want to call it) "revival," especially in light of the fact that it's been going on in Milwaukee for years (E*I*E*I*O, you guys, etc.)?

IS: I don't pay much attention to what labels people give music or what the current trend or revival is. I simply look for good music done by people that have talent and an honest love for what they are doing.

OMC: Thanks, Ian!

Stay tuned to OnMilwaukee.com, as we'll have a great interview with The RipTones' Jeb Bonansinga in August, as the release of their new disc, "Buckshot," approaches.


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