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Smoking Popes

The Smoking Popes' take on punk-pop was centered around lead singer Josh Caterer, whose obsessions with big-band records and black-and-white movies on the American Movie Classics channel led him to develop a vocal style that was unique in the punk world. The Popes sounded like a loud, guitar-based band fronted by a lounge singer, mixing uptempo rock with laid-back vocals and lyrics with an old-time romantic feel. The rest of the band, which formed in the Chicago area around 1991, consisted of Josh's brothers Matt and Eli on bass and guitar, respectively, and drummer Mike Felumlee. While Caterer didn't think of the band's music as punk, the Smoking Popes gained a number of supporters who would have happily argued otherwise, including the respected punk indie label Johann's Face, Green Day's Billie Joe, Alkaline Trio, and the members of another Chicago-based band, Fall Out Boy.

Johann's Face released the Popes' debut album, Get Fired, in 1993. Two years later, the band returned with Born to Quit, a major-label effort that featured Morrissey-influenced vocals and a more refined sound. The latter record also spawned the heavily rotated single "Need You Around," and subsequent tours with Jimmy Eat World, Green Day, and Goo Goo Dolls brought the band's music to an ever-expanding audience. Destination Failure followed in 1997.

To the heartbreak of many, the Popes called it quits in December 1998. Their final effort, Party's Over, was a covers album that had been recorded earlier that year, but Capitol rejected the record and it didn't appear until 2001, when it was released by Double Zero. The latter label also released two compilation albums -- Smoking Popes 1991-1998, a collection of songs that were previously hard to find, and the 2000 concert album Live -- while the former bandmates pursued different projects.

In November 2005, however, the brothers Caterer reunited with new drummer Rob Kellenberger for the Flower 15 Festival in Chicago. This performance was captured on tape and released by Victory in February 2006 as a CD/DVD package, At Metro. A two-month North American headlining tour with Bayside followed, as did the release of a new album entitled Stay Down. The compilation of early-'90s material titled It's Been a Long Day appeared in 2010 followed by the studio effort This Is Only a Test in 2011. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

His vocal style may be unique but that doesn't make it good.
have to see them in concert. I saw them in a small venue in Philly a few yrs ago and met the guys they are truly nice people and a lot of fun
Saw them in September. Awesome.
They are back! I saw them headlining at a small, packed out venue in the summer of 2007. Caterer took a long hiatus after his conversion to Christianity . During this time he kept busy with playing in the band at his church & a new project, Duval. After few years, Caterer called the band back into action & began a small tour introducing new material for an upcoming release & good amount of the old stuff, too.

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