January 11 - 17, 2001

By Louise Thach
- The brand new Weehawken label We Put Out Records, a division of the promotion company The Music Syndicate Inc., is being launched with the release of Drunk Uncle from the New Jersey-based band Cropduster on Jan. 16. Drunk Uncle has nine new Cropduster songs, including the award winning “Nothin’s Gonna Change,” which won the 2000 Musician’s Atlas Independent Music Award for Best Rock Act. Some of the celebrity panel of judges who awarded the title included Pat DiNizio, Ben Folds and Aimee Mann. "“Energetic, disillusioned, punk-tonk from a gritty bunch of free spirits, “ is how this band has been written up in the notable music magazine CMJ.

Before their grand pre-CD release party at the Liquid Lounge last Saturday, Cropduster lead singer Marc Maurizi and lead guitarist Tom Gerke came from their house in Hackensack to the Hudson Reporter offices with a six pack of Bud to have a drink and share a few band tales with the Current.

Louise Thach: How did you come up with the name Cropduster?
Marc Maurizi: I was reading The Grapes of Wrath, and it’s in there so much that I wrote it down in my list of band names, and I called Tom up and I said ‘The band should be Cropduster. The name is awesome.’ And he said ‘No that’s horrible.’ And I said ‘No, it’s great.’ And he said ‘No.’ Then he calls me back like three days later, this was like four years ago, and he said ‘It’s going to be Cropduster.’ And I said ‘No, it’s horrible.’ And he said ‘No, it’s going to be Cropduster.’ And it’s been Cropduster since that day.

LT: So how often do you guys get confused with the record label Cropduster?
It happened quite a bit in the beginning, but I think we’re separated now. I think people know who we are and know who they are. It still happens sometimes, but not as much as it used to.
Tom Gerke:
We’ll get calls sometimes like ‘Are you playing Hoboken tomorrow?’ And we’re like ‘No. What are you talking about?’ And it’s usually a ‘Cropduster Presents:’ evening. We were actually going to talk to them and be like, ‘Look, say Cropduster Records.’

LT: Whose idea was it to have an illustrative timeline as your bio on your website?
That was mine. I was trying write the bio, and I was thinking ‘This is so gay.’ If you ever try to write a bio, it comes out very dumb-sounding so we decided to think of a different method, and we asked Scott to draw it up, because he’s the resident artist in the band. 

: Yeah, he’s really good a stick figures. TG: Yeah, he’s great, but he does much better stuff than that.
He did the art on the CD cover. 

The timeline makes you sound like really old friends. Did you guys all grow up together?
MM: We did. Tom and I have been friends for like 20 years. We’ve known Scott for like 10 years, and we met Lee like two years ago

Have you ever played together before? TG: A little bit. Marc and I played in a cover band in Hoboken. 
We were in a Stevens cover band.
TG: Yeah, the Lost Orgasm. We always won the battle of the bands, because we played the cool songs like Nirvana when they first came out.

How did you make the transition from cover band to making your own music?
TG: It was a long struggle. We were both in different bands for a while. We always had separate paths in bands except for the cover band. Then one day, Marc said, ‘I don’t like the band that I’m in, and I want to write songs.’ You tell it, Marc. It was your epiphany.
MM: I was a bass player in a band in New Brunswick, and I got tired of being in a band without any control or say, so I decided to buy a guitar and I taught myself how to sing and play guitar.

LT: Who works for Starbucks?
TG: Lee, our bass player. He’s a manager there. If the customers get rowdy, then he’s responsible for kicking them out. But he doesn’t bring home enough coffee to us.

LT: Marc, how did Lee become engaged to your sister?
MM: They were dating before he joined the band. Our bass player left us, so we started trying out bass players, and this had been the third time this had happened to us. So one day at my Mom’s, (my sister’s boyfriend) asked to sit in with us, and we had a show at CMJ coming up, so we let him play and he never left.

Were you apprehensive about having your sister’s boyfriend play with you guys? MM: He learned the first song on the first CD, and he came in and played it for us that night, and we were like, ‘All right, this is going to work.’

On the new CD, there’s some shouting between the songs. What’s that about?
That was just all of us in the studio. It was a big party. There’s one song where a lot people sang on the end, so there’s a lot stuff on the tape and just kind of took that. There are pieces of conversations and random voices.

So what was it like to win The Musician’s Atlas Independent Music Award?
TG: It was pretty cool. We were excited.
MM: We were at The Musician’s Atlas two years ago to get help with resources, and there was a little ad to send your songs for them to judge, so we did. We sent them a demo and we forgot about it, and one day they called.

LT: What was the worst gig you guys ever played?
MM: The Coliseum in Jersey City. That was pretty powerfully poor. It was gigantic and all concrete. So we wound up playing for 150 people in a place that can hold up to like 4,000. The sound was going everywhere. We played for about a half an hour, before it got to us. It was hard to play on concrete too; it’s not very comfortable.

LT: What was the best gig you ever played?
MM: We played this gig in Cortland, New York last February. We played at an all ages punk rock show, and it was awesome. We gave out tons of stickers and got a whole bunch of names for our list. After the show, the kids were having a party for themselves at a barn and they asked us to play, and it was just 40 punk rock kids going nuts. Real hay, real cows and all. We played for about two hours.

LT: What’s worse, ‘80s glam metal or 70s prog rock, and why?
MM: ‘80s glam metal. I’ll tell you why I like ‘70s prog rock, and that’s because they can play. That’s about it.
TG: Well, the difference, I think, is that band ‘80s glam metal is really, really bad. Bad prog rock you can laugh at, because it’s more fun.

LT: What’s it like to live together, because I know band members can fight a lot?
TG: We’ve been friends for so long, that there’s no petty little fights anymore. It definitely makes life more exciting, because the party is always going on at the house. We have a grill on the porch, for extra white trash, and empty kegs that got snowed on from the last party.

LT: What’s one of the wildest stories you guys have as a band?
MM: One of the wildest nights we had was when we played this club…
TG: There were three parts to that evening. There was the show when we got drunk and our friend started a fight at the bar. Then there was the part when we go back to the hotel, and Marc, Lee and the guy who started the fight are all in a wrestling match, and Marc passes out because he got drunk and didn’t eat any dinner. And then there was the third part of the night where me, Scott and our friend just started taking the hotel apart. We were palying piano and stealing couches and chairs and making six, six, sixes out of them, and then we all eventually passed out. The next morning, the room was such a mess; it was completely disheveled. So Marc gets up and he goes for his boots.
MM: I went to get my boots unders the bed, and one felt really funny, so I pulled it out from under the bed, and turned out to be a foot-long dildo.

LT: OK. So this is going to be the launch album for We Put Out Records. Are you guys nervous about that at all?
TG: No, at all. They’re probably more nervous than we are. We’re still going to be a band, no matter what.

LT: Do you feel there’s a lot riding on you though?
TG: Well, there might be a lot riding, but I think we can step up to the plate. I’m not afraid of that.