The Saps explode the coffeehouse

Alex Schaaf

As I sat down last Saturday night to interview the members of The Saps, the Chicago-bred band that was to perform at the coffeehouse later that night, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Between just coming off an east coast tour, releasing their latest album, “C’mon Already – Start a Fire,” and being named “One of Chicago’s Top Ten Bands” by Metromix, I was afraid that the band might be too serious and “important” to condescend to be questioned by a lowly college newspaper reporter.
My fears were eased, however, within the first few minutes of meeting the band. I would be hard pressed to find another group as laid back, good humored and complimentary of the grill as The Saps.
“On the record, this is one of the best tuna melts I’ve ever had,” commented one of the band members during our interview over dinner.
Listing influences such as the Flaming Lips, The Clash and The Replacements, the band mixes clever lyrics and catchy hooks with a hard-hitting rock sound and an explosive performance style.
Dan Lastick’s violent lead vocals rest on top of a powerful layer of sound provided by the other three members: guitarist Dan Menoni, bassist Dan Padgett and drummer Ryan Whitacre.
During The Saps’ set Saturday night, the Underground Coffeehouse’s stage proved to be barely large enough to contain the band.
A fitting slogan for the night may have been, “Mike stands be damned,” as Lastick spastically veered from one side of the stage to the other all night, ignoring all equipment in his path.
The basic framework of the band has been together for around nine years. Lastick and Menoni started playing together around 1998.
Whitacre joined about two years ago, and Padgett is the newcomer of the group, only having played with them for the last couple of months.
When asked of the origin of their name, none of the band members could remember where “The Saps” came from. “We’ve honestly had like, hour long conversations trying to figure it out,” said Whitacre. “We just don’t remember.”
The members of the band pride themselves on their independence. They released their last CD on their own and book their own tours without any support from a record label.
“We’re self-made,” declared Menoni. “Nobody helps us, nobody loves us.”
Lastick was a bit more optimistic. “But that could change very soon,” he said. “In the last year, we’ve gotten a lot more serious.”
The band did take a moment in the set to display the hard work that goes into getting their own shows.
They gave a less-than-complimentary shout-out to a booking agent in Chicago, who got on the wrong side with the group, singing “You piece of s*** booking guy.”
The band just finished an east coast tour a couple weeks ago. “We haven’t had a weekend off in a long time,” said Whitacre.