Teenage Daydreams Smoking Popes Go Back to High School on New Record

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

Teenage Daydreams Smoking Popes Go Back to High School on New Record


Byline: Matt Arado marado@dailyherald.com

After hearing a teen pop song on the radio one day, Josh Caterer, leader of pop-punk band the Smoking Popes, realized he'd never written any songs that take a teenager's point of view.

Not even when he was a teenager.

"I always tried to pretend I wasn't a kid when I wrote stuff in high school," said Caterer, who grew up in Carpentersville and Lake in the Hills and lives in Elgin. "So I thought it would be fun, now that I'm in my 30s, to go back and try that."

The result is "This is Only a Test," the new record from the Smoking Popes. The record's 10 songs tell the story of a teenager struggling with issues as serious as suicide and as relatively mundane as overbearing coaches.

"I created a character, a high-school student," Caterer said. "And immediately, I got all these ideas for songs. I wrote a song a day for five days, and I never usually write that fast."

The Popes will release the new record on March 15 on indie label Asian Man Records. The band is supporting it with a spring tour, which includes a stop this weekend in Rosemont.

Caterer said he's pleased with the album, which delivers plenty of the band's signature sound punk energy and attitude combined with the heart-on-your-sleeve emotions of the best pop. Consider the opener, "Wish We Were," a rousing, rocking slice of teenage angst, or "I've Got Mono," with its ringing guitars and anthemic chorus.

There are some new musical touches on "This is Only a Test," including the cello-inflected "Letter to Emily," which Caterer counts among his favorites.

"I think that song came together really nicely, and it's so cool to hear cello on a Smoking Popes song," he said. "We've never done that before."

The Popes emerged from McHenry

County in the early '90s. Caterer sings and plays guitar, while his brothers Matt and Eli play bass and guitar, respectively. …

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