It's been two years since we caught up with Milwaukee's own rawk rawyalty, namely Chief – a band I like to compare to Thin Lizzy but which frontman Chris Tischler has likened to Van Halen, UFO and Judas Priest.
The media silence is mostly because the trio – comprising hard working Brew City music scene stalwarts Dave Benton on bass, Matt Liban on drums and singer and guitarist Tischler – has been on hiatus, keeping itself silent, too.
But with Benton back in town after a globetrotting jaunt as touring bassist with Beatallica, Chief is back to play a gig on Friday, May 27 at Bay View's Club Garibaldi with The Pills.
In part, the break has been down to the fact that everyone in the band is busy, busy, busy. Benton is a dad, a working horror novelist and is in at least two other bands. Liban is also a dad, a drum teacher and, along with Tischler (who is in Animal Magnets, too), a member of The 5 Card Studs, one of the busiest bands around.
But, Tischler suggests that when Chief had a particularly sizzling gig a year or so ago, the three weren't sure they could top it.
"The stop was weird," he admits. "We'd played a benefit at Mad Planet and the three of us were actually pretty blown away in the fact that we kind of agreed that it was our best show. As far as I remember, we didn't have anything else booked at the time and then a few weeks later I got a couple of e-mails which were leaning towards it not really happening anymore."
That came as a shock, says Tischler, and while there was talk of continuing on with a slightly revised line-up, that idea was quickly scrapped.
"I couldn't – and wouldn't – do the songs that we do, as it wouldn't have the same effect, attitude or feeling with anyone else but those two," he says. "Sure, some of our songs I wrote years ago and played them in other bands with other people. But the thing is, Chief's become what it is solely by the three of us learning and re-learning our sh*t together as the three of us.
"It might not be as long a relationship with this configuration of people as some or all of us might have had with others in other bands or whatever, but Chief ... this is 'our thing.' Just as is the case with a gang or a brotherhood. I think we learned that – at least I did – about halfway through it. As for whether or not it's gigging regularly, somewhat active or 'the beast is sleeping, it's always the three of us."
And so Chief was waylaid while its members focused their energies elsewhere.
But at some point the impetus to get back together again arrived and hence the gig. The difficulty of finding a date that worked for everyone, however, doesn't seem to have improved the outlook for an ongoing Chief, it must be argued.
But Tischler won't call this Chief's last gig.
"If it is the last show, it's not like there'd be an official announcement or any bullshit like that," he says. "The reason we've been touting this one as the 'Last (?) Show' is that we simply don't know. At least we're all on the same page as far as what we want out of it, what we dig about it and also the unfortunate reality that as kick ass as we think the band is, it's not something that can necessarily drop everything in our lives for.
It'd be damn nice, but reality always looms overhead, you know? So, with that being said, if it is indeed the last show, it's not out of some animosity, argument, usual bullshit associated with a swan song. We might – probably – do another one at some point, we just don't know when. That might change once we're on stage rocking our asses off. Then we might drop everything and just hit the road."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.