Choking Susan brings old school punk to the Brewery
By Matt Clevenger
Detroit has always had a reputation for producing some of the loudest, fastest and hardest punk rock around, ever since Iggy Pop and the Stooges first exploded from the city’s underground scene in the late 1970s.
Today, that spirit lives on in the form of Choking Susan, Detroit’s snarling answer to all those who claim pure punk rock is dead. Crazier than Iggy and louder than the MC5, the motor city-based quartet is scheduled to appear at the Brewery in Troy, Saturday, Dec. 4, headlining a special Punk Nite show with opening acts Secondhand Destruction, the Stink and Brooklyn Vampire.
Formed over a decade ago by singer/songwriter Colleen Caffeine and guitarist “Killer” Keith, Choking Susan has developed a loyal cult following throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, playing the iconic CBGB’s before it closed and sharing the stage with punk legends Blitz and the New York Dolls on tour. Known for darkly humorous lyrics, speedy, Ramones-style guitar riffs, and Colleen Caffeine’s uniquely disturbing stage presence, the group recently released their fifth album, Desperately Choking Susan, and is currently working on both a live album and a new studio release.
The band is also planning a list of upcoming shows, starting with a special appearance at Punk Nite at the Brewery and ending with a series of dates in England this summer. Colleen Caffeine took a break from this busy schedule last week, however, slowing down just long enough for a quick interview discussing Choking Susan, their latest album and plans for the future.
DCP: How long has Choking Susan been together?
Colleen Caffeine: We’ve been a band for 10 years, but the members are constantly changing … except for me. I stay the same and no one can fire me.
DCP: Can you list some of your musical influences?
CC: The Ramones and X are my biggest influences personally, but the band’s influences span all genres, from Mozart to Minor Threat and everything in between.
DCP: Is there a story behind the name Choking Susan?
CC: Actually, there are lots of behinds. Choking Susan was the name of a porno that featured many behinds in the scenes, if you catch my drift.
DCP: Choking Susan has played with some pretty well-known punk bands over the years. Do you have any favorite artists you’ve shared the stage with?
CC: The New York Dolls played Rebellionfest last year, as did we. That was pretty cool.
DCP: You’ve also toured extensively in foreign countries, especially Europe. Do you have a favorite foreign country to play in?
CC: Yes … Kenosha, Wisconsin. It’s pretty foreign there. Haha.
DCP: Do you play any instruments?
CC: I play the bass, very loosely, I might add, but I’m not good enough to be in my own band, so I just sing. I’m not good enough to do that either, but again, who’s going to fire me? Playing bass allows me to write songs translated in the musicians’ language.
DCP: When exactly did your last album, Desperately Choking Susan, come out?
CC: It was released in England this past July and we just released it a couple weeks ago in America and the rest of the world. We couldn’t find the right time to release it, so we just did it secretly.
DCP: How would you compare the band’s sound on that album to your other releases?
CC: I think this one is more stripped down hooker junkie. True punk for the people.
DCP: Do you have a favorite Choking Susan song to play live?
CC: I like to play “I Wanna Be Your Fake Girlfriend” because it’s a venture in sanity.
DCP: Are there any new bands that you really like?
CC: I love all the bands we’ve ever played with because it’s like a sexual experience – playing, listening, grooving, stopping, starting and screaming.
DCP: How did you get involved with Punk Nite?
CC: A nice man asked us to play there…
DCP: Have you ever played in the Dayton area before?
CC: I don’t remember… I drink too much. Kids, let that be a lesson.
DCP: Are there any upcoming releases that you’re working on?
CC: We’ve got five CDs out right now, a live CD in the works and a brand new CD that’s starting to take shape as well.
DCP: What are your plans for the future?
CC: We have a gig in Wisconsin January 22, a weekend of shows in Rome in May and two weeks of gigs all around England in July and August.
Choking Susan will appear at the Brewery in Troy Saturday, December 4, with opening acts Secondhand Destruction, the Stink and Brooklyn Vampire. 18+, show starts at 9 p.m. More information can be found online at HYPERLINK “http://www.choking” www.chokingsusan.com, HYPERLINK “http://www.myspace.com/chokingsusan” www.myspace.com/chokingsusan or HYPERLINK “http://www.myspace.com/brewerybands” www.myspace.com/brewerybands.
Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Clevenger at email@example.com