The Returnables

The Returnables

BandRockPunk

Irrepressible, adrenalized 70's/80's powerpop delivered with reckless abandon, adrenaline and hooks. A much-needed oxygen fix in today's world of hipsters and phonies.

Biography

Mixing the power pop thrust of the Real Kids and the Undertones with the buzzsaw aggression of the Saints and Teengenerate, Chicago's Returnables conjure a world where "Rock and Roll High School" and "Valley Girl" are in heavy rotation on cable, where the drinks are cheap and where the songs are loud, fast, and nearly all about girls. In the flavor-of-the-month muddle of popular music, The Returnables are a much-needed oxygen fix.

The band dates back to 1998, when Reggie and Bobby James Lee Ray got bored with their bands and got together with the intention of drinking a few beers and bashing through some Undertones covers (although by the second show a bunch of Vapors and Bowie songs had already made it into the Underclones’ setlist).

It was instantly apparent that this fortunate accident demanded immediate attention. Christening themselves The Returnables, the boys fueled their songcraft from that initial spark and immediately started lighting up halls, holes and hovels throughout the States.

Constant roadwork sharpened the band’s ragged but right tunes, and in the fall of 1999 they released “So When Can I See You Again?”, a 4-song EP on their own Rocketship Records imprint. Then when drummer Richie Stuverud (The Fastbacks) split, he kicked off a short succession of drummers and guitarists that would result in the classic Returnable lineup of BJ, Reggie, Frankie and Arturo.

In the meantime, “So When” caught the ear of Naked Raygun frontman Jeff Pezzati, who was so taken by the band’s garage-pop sound that he immediately signed them to his Jettison Music label.

The full-length Unrequited Hits was released in May 2002. Once again working with producer Mike Hagler (Wilco, Mekons, Neko Case) at Kingsize Sound Labs, Unrequited Hits was exploding-white-mice loud – but the volume never overwhelmed the melodies, which lingered long after the final cut had played. A baker’s dozen of manic pop thrills, Unrequited Hits was a blast of pop mayhem that brought the band international attention.

The Returnables followed up that triumph with “So When Can I See You Again?”...Plus! in May 2003, with 4 brand-new nuggets added for good measure. This release, bolstered by further touring and a featured performance in the still-airing Independent Film Channel (IFC)production “Running With the Bulls,” further cemented the band’s reputation as one of Chicago’s finest musical exports.

In 2005, The Returnables are stronger than ever. New drummer Tommy Lee Ray brings a new level of supercharged intensity along with a freewheeling technical prowess that perfectly complements the Returnables’ stripped-down sound, and bassist Blaze St. John (The Heatseekers, Cavity, Gasoline Fight, ZZZZ) is a veritable encyclopedia of power-pop hooks. With an abundance of new material, adrenaline and Plimsouls records, The Returnables continue to redefine rock and roll as something that should stop trying so hard to redefine itself already.

Lyrics

What Would Mother Say?

Written By: Bobby James Lee Ray

used to have a girl, but I threw up. she threw me in the trash.
used to notice things too.
used to have a job, but i can't remember where i placed it.
i had my youth; i wasted it too.

what would mother say?

once had a lot of things, but used them up. they dissipate like ash
and once i had someone like you.
one brand of cigarette dangles from my lip as i slip into that one brand of booze.

what would mother say/

now the joke is old
i act as if i'm convinced by your laugh.
see it's okay, i'm laughing too.
some kind of punishment awaits me like some forged autograph
i'd sign my life away to you.

what would mother say?

Bubblegum

Written By: Bobby James Lee Ray

there's nothing to do except listen for you.
i don't wanna put you out - who are you going out to?

i don't know. i don't care.
you can't take me anywhere.

i'm on the c.t.a.
and it smells like love.
there's my girlfriend on the platform - who's she thinking of?

i don't know. i don't care.
there's some bubblegum in my hair.
i dunno. something's wrong.
there's some bubblegum in my song.

come on baby, let me hear you sing:
"i don't know a thing."

You Make Me Nervous

Written By: Bobby James Lee Ray

you make me nervous.
i mouth your name.
no one's listening.
i've gone insane.
i don't care to know.
i just hope you'll keep talking.
i need a steady tone to blot out my mind's wandering.

my skin is crawling
away from here.
somebody put something in my beer.
i don't care to focus -
this is far too sharp to touch.
i live a plimsouls record,
by much too much.

you make me nervous.
i make me sick.
my stomach's turning,
like turning tricks.
i don't care to be requited -
aw, just a little bit.
a little bit has subsided, but i can't get over it.

Discography

ALBUMS:

"So When Can I See You Again?" EP, Rocketship Records 1999
Unrequited Hits LP, Jettison Music 2002
"So When Can I See You Again?"...PLUS EP, Jettison Music 2003

COMPILATIONS:

"You Make Me Nervous" on Beluga on the Rocks, Beluga Records 1999
"Don't Think Joey" on Pistil Magazine comp, 2005

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD:

"Road Trip"
"Don't Think Joey"
"She Throws Punches"
"Julie, Did I?"
"Bubblegum"
"Probably"

Set List

Typically, 40 minutes.
Roughly 40 originals in current rotation
A set will frequently contain a cover or two, from a pool including songs by: Wedding Present, Radio Birdman, Psychedelic Furs, Undertones, Clash, Psychedelic Furs, Tina and the Total Babes. You really want a list of covers? That's cheating... but if you really wanna know, here's some:

ALL KINDSA GIRLS
BETTER WAY
BLUE JEAN
BONZO GOES TO BITBURG
BURNING AIRLINES GIVE YOU SO MUCH MORE
CLOWN FALLS DOWN
CRASH
DARE
DON'T WORRY BABY/GROOVY TIMES
EVER FALLEN IN LOVE
FATHER CHRISTMAS
FLIP YOUR WIG
GET OVER YOU
I DON'T