A Conversation with Pegboy

The New Puritan ReView
Minneapolis, MN
December 1991

Exploring the creative process that connects performing artists with writers and readers alike.

[This is pretty much just the pre-edited, raw interview / conversation; most (if not all) of which ended up in the published article, as it appears here.]

I might have mentioned this once or twice by now, but the finished layout for the complete article as it appeared in 1991, was either lost or destroyed over time. I wish that were not the case, as there were more photos, and some other cool design details in the published piece, but at least you can share what inspired it in the first place. A floppy disc with the original interview was the source for what appears here, before that too, gave way to the ravages of time. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – keeping tabs on the past is a lot of work.

For the record, Pegboy consists of brothers John and Joe Haggerty (guitar and drums, respectively), Larry Damore (vocals/guitar), and Steve Saylors (bass). If any of those names sound familiar, you may have listened to some of the bands they had been in previously, including Naked Raygun, The Effigies, and Bhopal Stiffs. The interview took place in between a rousing two-night stand at 7th Street Entry, where we were treated to anthemic sets drawing largely from their Quarterstick debut EP Three-Chord Monte and the forthcoming Strong Reaction LP. Steve Albini [world-renowned record producer  /engineer, suburban home owner, and all-around pal] came along for the ride – manning the soundboard both nights in lieu of gas money – and subsequently joined us for lunch and conversation, at the legendary C.C. Club in South Minneapolis, on June 23, 1991.

Q Does it feel historical at this point to talk about Naked Raygun, or do you miss it in any way?

A John: The only thing I miss about that band is playing cards. We used to play a lot of cards. It was an amicable split – just realizing we were going in two different directions as far as what we wanted to accomplish ultimately. That was it, basically. As far as doing those old songs, well, we only do the ones that I wrote exclusively, so they’re more like my songs and not really Naked Raygun songs. I would think eventually we probably won’t bother doing it at all. It’s just that this is kind of like our first year, and in order to kind of build a following and a reputation so that people know who we are – our past experiences haven’t been a complete waste of time.

Q What were some of the reasons you felt you had to leave Naked Raygun?

A John: Naked Raygun were never willing to make the kind of sacrifices it takes to make the next step – progression. They’ve been in like a holding pattern as far as I’m concerned for the last four years, probably. They’ve been the same level of a band for the last four years, they haven’t gone forward. There’s a bunch of reasons why that is, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

Q Is Pegboy able to make the kind of changes you felt you should have been making?

A John: Yes. This band constantly moves forward, sometimes at a pace that is amazing. I always want to move forward, no matter what we’re doing, do something bigger and better the next time. When we start stagnating, I think we’ll call it quits.

Q Steve tells me that your first record was actually only a demo that had only been recorded a few months earlier.

A John: That’s right. We never intended to release that.

Larry: At the time we went in the studio, we had only had those five songs, so we just decided we wanted to get ’em down on tape and start shoppin’ around. So that’s what we did, and we did it at a really low budget. Steve gave us the deal of the century on it – we talked to 1/4 Stick and he thought it would be a good idea just to put that out. As it turns out, it really did well, and helped us out a lot.

Q Is the single the first new material since then, or does that go back to the first session?

A Larry: I think the single was a couple of the newer songs, for no other reason than we thought that they’d make a good single. We did those in Steve’s basement too. It had been a while since the record came out, so we wanted to keep gettin’ product out, keep our name around.

Q How long has it been since you started all this?

A Larry: Probably about a year-and-a-half, I would say. We’d been practicing before that, but since the first time we played out, it’s been about a year-and-a-half.

Q How did the four of you come together?

A Larry: All the bands that we were in …you know, guys were unhappy for one reason or another, and we found ourself in a situation where none of us really had bands to play with. We all wanted to keep going with the band thing, so. I think – John, didn’t you call me up?

John: Uh …yeah. [laughs]

Larry: Yeah, I think that’s the way it went. So, we were all pretty anxious to get back into playing in a band, so we sat down and talked about what we had in mind and what we wanted to do for a band, which was what John was talking about earlier – we wanted to keep moving forward and if we’re gonna do it, we want to do it balls out – if nothing comes of it, then nothing comes of it. So we just started jamming after that, basically just to keep things going.

Q Who’s doing most of the writing, lyrics, music, whatever?

A Joe: John and Larry do most of that, but everybody contributes – nobody comes in with a complete song.

Larry: A lot of times we’ll come in with an idea, throw it around a little bit, add some parts, take some out…it’s like a give-and-take thing between all of us, really.

Q At a time when so many new bands are so careful to plan out every little detail of their career, you’ve already been touring a while, released an EP and a single, and Steve tells me you’ve already got an LP on the way – is that a pace you’d like to keep moving at?

A John: Yeah it is …amazing, sometimes. [laughs] If we could keep this pace, in three years, in three years we’ll be ruling the planet.

Larry: We just want to keep putting out material. As long as material comes to us, then we’ll keep putting it out – it’s as simple as that.

Q Influences aside, would you care to talk at all about the kind of things you like to write about? What or who you’re aiming at?

A Larry: Really, the only things that I know how to write about – the subjects that move me enough to write about – are usually personal stuff, just like things that everybody goes through every day,you know?

Q Some of those songs on “Three Chord Monte” carry the kind of urgency that earmarked the early punk sound. Would you say that’s where you guys are coming from?

A Larry: I’m not so sure it’s really intentional. I mean, we all came out of that… stage, so to say. We only know how to do what we know how to do, and that’s the way it comes across. Hopefully, it’s got a little more of a twist to it that doesn’t make it more like a nostalgia-type band.

Q It tends to point out the lack of any real passion in a lot of other modern bands.

A Larry: I really think that’s the biggest part of my music, the emotion.

Q Where did you get the name from?

A Larry: We really were just hard up for a name, and we were just paging through this slang dictionary one day, and we ran across this word “pegboy”, and it sounded kind of cool to us. It turns out that a pegboy is just kind of a coffee boy or a lackey type guy [laughs] – basically, that’s what we are. Of course if you want to know the real meaning, you have to find a slang dictionary. [Steve suggests that it could mean “an able-bodied sailor”.]

John: The origin of the word is pretty disgusting, but we’d like your readers to research that.

Q How does the sibling relationship hold up in a situation like this?

A John: We get along pretty good to begin with, so…

Joe: Other than talking about whose the more talented one, everything’s fine. [laughs]

John: Yeah. Everyone knows who’s smarter and more handsome, and that’s all there is to it.

Steve: And the other one, he just sits there and takes it.

Joe: I’ve known some bands with brothers in ’em, and they used to get in fistfights in soundcheck and stuff …

John: That’s not really like that with us.

Q Steve, what attracted you to these guys?

A Steve: I’ve just known ’em five million years. They’re pals. I respect them. I respect John for getting out of a sinking ship like Naked Raygun, and I respect anyone that figures out what they want to do and can do it, whether or not it’s “cool”. I think that it’s a lot more important in my opinion that people start a band that they want to be in, rather than try to be a part of some movement or some sphere of influence. I just think they’re really great at what they do.

Q Any plans to work with them in the future?

A Steve: No, I just took a ride up here with ’em, and I’m paying for my ride by doin’ sound for ’em. And cooking – I gotta cook too.

Larry: Yeah, he’s a hell of a little cook.

John: He’s gonna make somebody a wonderful wife some day.

Steve: I’ve made a few wonderful wives in my day.

Q Do you give much thought as to who listens to what you do?

A Steve: We always do. We constantly think about who’s hearing our stuff. The bottom line is that we like it. We can cater to a million thousand different types of people, but it’s stupid thinking about it. It has to be something you like, otherwise nobody would fucking do it because it’s a pain in the ass, between touring and practicing three nights a week after you work an eight-hour day.

Larry: Hopefully everybody can find something that they like about it, whether it’s the cheesy pop qualities, or the intensity, or whatever. That’s our goal – to have people that aren’t necessarily into that type of music like it.

Q How do you see yourselves fitting in with the so-called “Chicago sound”?

A Larry: The “Chicago sound”, as far as I’m concerned is more the engineers that came out. I really don’t think it’s got that much to do with the bands or the music they play. I mean, how can you say that Big Black and Naked Raygun sound alike? They’re two of the – quote – “Chicago sound” bands. No really, the “Chicago sound” just means big guitars, and if that’s what it means, then yeah.

Steve: Yeah, but all those guitars sound different to me too. I don’t even know where that came from. I think that it’s just people like to break things down geographically.

Larry: It’s almost like a myth.

Q Kind of like the “manhole cover” thing.

A Steve: What’s that?

Q You know – Tar, Sludgeworth, Wreck – all those bands from Chicago who have pictures of manhole covers on their record sleeves.

A Larry: Nah, we’re gonna stay away from the manhole covers thing.

© J.Free / The New Puritan ReView; 1991; 2022