It’s not easy keeping the rhythm in the Champaign, Ill.-based alternative band Poster Children. With newcomer Howie Kantoff, they’re on their sixth drummer in eight years.
“Most of our drummers have left on their own free will,” guitarist Rick Valentin said recently. “They weren’t really booted out of the band. It’s more like we’re sort of watching for the warning signs, like are they getting bored or are they saying, ‘Oh, I want to play different music.’ With Howie, he seems pretty happy.”
At least for now, while the quartet releases its third Sire/Reprise album, “Junior Citizen.”
If anything, Poster Children’s aggressive brand of chaotic rock takes its toll on drummers.
“The whole thing about our band is that we’re so happy playing,” said bassist Rose Marshack. “We’re very, very focused on our live performances. There’s no us trying to compete against other bands or us trying to sell more records. There’s nothing to focus on except for playing live shows and if you don’t really love to play live shows and tour, then you can just watch TV or something.”
Valentin, whose brother John plays rhythm guitar, said most of the band’s drummers have started out happy but were quickly worn down by the pace.
“There’s only so much you can take being in a van with three other people for three months in a row, smelling bad and having to listen to the same stories over and over again,” he said.
Despite the group’s big-label status, they’ve stayed put in the small college town of Champaign, once home to REO Speedwagon and the Elvis Brothers. They even formed 12-Inch Records, a label to promote local bands.
“I think the problem with a lot of bands is that they get small-town fever and decide, ‘Well, once I make it big, I’m gonna move out of this small town and move to New York,’ ” Marshack said. “It’s such a fallacy. It’s pretty easy being in a band from Champaign.”
“It’s very cheap to live here,” Valentin said. “You don’t really have to get a high-paying job to pay your rent. You can work at a record store and be in a band … if that’s what you want to do.
“As of today, we have Poster Children, obviously, on Sire. We’ve got a band called Mother that’s going to have its first album out on Capitol. There’s Hum, which was the first band on our label (12-Inch Records). They’re going to have a record coming out in the spring on RCA.
“And there’s Hardvark, which contains one of our former drummers, Bob. Their first record is going to be released by Geffen (in April). So things are sort of heating up around here.”
BWF (before we forget): Poster Children’s follow-up album, “International:RTFM,” was released in 1997. … Check them out on the Web @ www.prairienet.org/posterkids/ or send e-mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.