The trio will concern itself with the output of SST Records, the label Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn founded to release music that, between the late 1970s and early 1990s, ranged from his own band's hardcore punk to the twitchy aggression of Madison's Tar Babies to the doom metal of Saint Vitus. (More recently the label has also showcased Ginn's rather flavorless excursions into jam-band territory, but the less said about that the better.) Not to mention Bad Brains, early Sonic Youth records, and early Dinosaur Jr., and on and on.
To get things started, the band seems to be focusing mostly on Minutemen, Meat Puppets and Hüsker Dü, though Burke says he'd like to work in some Black Flag and Gone in the future. As a guitarist for the Gomers, Burke's used to jumping among all manner of covers at the band's Gomeroke live-karaoke nights, but he admits that re-creating Minutemen's bold triad of eccentricity is especially tricky.
"Their song structures are the least conventional, and each part really depends upon the other two in order to sound right," Burke says. "As I'm playing bass on most of this band's stuff, learning Mike Watt's parts has been the most challenging aspect of this project, for me, at any rate."
Burke says SSTParty began when Brenneis - who drums with local jazz outfits and guitar-pop band Centime, which shares Friday's bill - suggested starting a Minutemen tribute, and the idea expanded to other SST bands, though none of them sound alike. It helps that Sullivan and Burke already play in a band, Cement Pond, that shows a strong Meat Puppets influence.
Of course, it's not the first Madison cover or tribute project that puts nerdy devotion ahead of crowd-pleasing familiarity. (The formidable Talking Heads tribute Houses In Motion gets to have it both ways.) in recent years, you might have seen the Steely Dan tribute Steely Dane (which includes Brenneis); Joy Division tribute Leaders Of Men; or even Tar Babies member Bucky Pope leading a Buzzcocks cover band called B'dum B'dum, to name just a few.
Assigning vocal parts is almost as complicated a task as parsing D. Boon's guitar style: All three members will take turns.
"Tim is singing D. Boon [on Minutemen songs], I'm singing [Hüsker Dü's] Bob Mould, Michael is singing [Hüsker Dü's] Grant Hart, and Tim and I are splitting up Curt Kirkwood, depending on who is playing guitar on which Meat Puppets number," Burke says. "Tim is also singing and playing guitar on the Tar Babies material, and in a departure from this formula, Michael is singing some of the Minutemen material."
As for Friday's actual set list, that will remain a surprise. But who knows, perhaps they'll even venture into one of those really long Minutemen songs.