The Bin Men come from all over Madison's musical landscape. Singer-guitarist Jim Goronson plays with Seven Stone Weaklings, singer-guitarist Maggie Weiser sings with Reptile Palace Orchestra, bassist Kenny Stevenson plays with Jim Schwall, and drummer Nate Onsrud sings and plays guitar for Sir!NoSir! Altogether, Weiser and Stevenson play in nearly 10 bands, yet they seem to get something new out of playing in their rock band the Bin Men.
They'll celebrate the release of their debut EP, Sensible Hair Cuts, Nov. 16 at Mickey's Tavern. I recently spoke with Goronson, Onsrud and Weiser.
Where did your band's name come from?
Jim Goronson: I can tell that story. Nate and I talked; the beginning of the band was at La Fête de Marquette. I think we had met prior to that.
Nate Onsrud: I think Seven Stone Weaklings and Underculture had played together several times.
JG: So we met at La Fête de Marquette, and it was like, "Hey, why don't we start a new band?" My band Aniv de la Rev had broken up, and you [Onsrud] were looking to start a new project.
NO: Underculture had broken up as well.
JG: That was in July 2010. Then the next month I was helping my British friend move. And she goes, "They didn't come. The bin men, they didn't come to pick up the rubbish bins." And I was like [points finger in the air and smiles]. The British term for garbage men is bin men, so it was like, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Great band name! So that's where that came from.
What do you guys get to do with the Bin Men that you don't necessarily do in your other bands?
Maggie Weiser: For me, it's more of an underground expression. The kind of stuff that I do, the kind of stuff that I write, they're not songs that would fit with any other project I work with. I get to play guitar a lot harder and louder. Before this I had mostly played rhythm guitar but more acoustic, Americana-type stuff. This is a really good outlet for me to get loud.
So it's a good release?
NO: She's good at it, too. [Laughs.] Maggie likes to yell.
MW: No holding back!
Who writes most of the songs?
JG: I do and I would say that's what this band offers me, an outlet for creative expression, which I was definitely looking to do after Aniv de la Rev broke up. We were largely originals-based band and it's supplemented what I like to do because the Weaklings are a cover band. Beyond that, we really enjoy playing together. We have a great time in practices and at gigs. We get to rock out and enjoy it greatly.
NO: I think I'm purely in it for the enjoyment. It's my drumming outlet. It's the only project I have going where I'm drumming, and I get to hang out with cool folks.
MW: Jim writes most of the tunes. I've written a few. Some of them I brought with me from before I was in the band. It was material that I was sitting on, trying to figure out what to do with it. And then a couple recent tunes have been written for the band. It's cool. When I bring a song to the band, I have an idea for it and then Nate and Ken and Jim hop in and help me work the arrangements, especially Nate.
Your EP is short even for an EP. How do you fill out your live shows?
NO: A lot of material.
JG: We're a punk band in that sense.
MW: It seems like we keep adding more songs, but the set never gets to be longer than an hour. [Laughs.]
JG: I think we have 16 songs now, and a couple of them a little bit longer but didn't make in onto the album. We recorded it a little over a year ago at Madison Media Institute, and we decided to pick out our five best songs at that time.
MW: The catchiest and what we thought would be the most fun, the most accessible and represent us in the most fun way. We're a fun band.
NO: I think our songwriting, or Jim's songwriting, is progressing all the time, too. The songs that we've written since the EP was recorded seem to be, I don't want to say more complex. Maybe a little bit more complex, a little more depth to them.
MW: We definitely have a political edge to a lot of our stuff.
I noticed. Can you explain "the lizard people"?
JG: As you know, Maggie and I both work at WORT and there are a number of colorful personalities there, in particular our Thursday-morning volunteer receptionist, Martha. She has a very cosmic viewpoint on the world. Basically, this concept of lizard people comes from Mayan mythology. These evil lizards take human form, and really they're the creatures responsible for so much pain and suffering in the world. At the end of 2010, I went upstairs and said, "Martha, tell me about the lizard people." And she said, "Well, I'll give you some examples. Queen Elizabeth, and especially Obama, is a lizard person."
NO: That line is directly in the song.
JG: I would describe our recording of "Don't Listen (to the Lizard People)" as pretty goofy. It's intended to be a comedic number, and yet explicitly there's some social commentary in there.
MW: Ribbing a little bit but acknowledging the vast variety of outlandish perspectives about the political theater.
It sounds like you guys are trolling but it's equal-opportunity trolling.
JG: With that one, yeah, though we're definitely left-leaning. And yet I would say this cosmic perspective has merit. Don't listen to the lizard people. Don't listen to what those fucking millionaires and billionaires who are trying to steal the election. Don't listen to what they're telling you.
NO: Don't listen to what they're ramming down your throat. Don't listen to what the media is ramming down your throat. They're the lizard people as well. [Laughs.]
JG: Listen to the Bin Men instead.