“That’s the question we fear the most.”
That certainly wasn’t the answer I expected. All I did was ask “On The Front” where they got their band name.
Jason, Josh, Gary, Eric and Dan quickly went on to explain that they try to put a lot of meaning behind their songs, and the way they selected the name didn’t reflect that thought process. They told me they had lists of possible names and finally narrowed it down to “On The Front” because they “just needed a name”.
Last Saturday I sat down with them before their Logan Square Auditorium show in the diner on the corner. This is a group of guys that obviously like each other, but it wasn’t always that way. The band’s been around for about five years and like most with that amount of history they’ve gone through a few personnel changes. Most recently they went from a six-piece to a five-piece, and they are quite satisfied with that, thank you very much. In fact, when I asked them if they felt like the band had suffered musically or instrumentally by losing a person, they collectively answered so vehemently I thought I was going to be blown out of the diner.
Collectively was how they answered all of my questions. Generally when I’m interviewing a band one, maybe two of the members will do the talking. Not these guys. They’d all pipe in, but without a shred of competition or ego or “look at me”. Granted, getting quotes is much easier when there’s a spokesperson, but it was entertaining to hear the cacophony of voices all saying the same thing. Eric was the quietest of the bunch, but he’s only been with them for about a year so I imagine he’ll get over that.
Part of their excitement stems from their soon to be released CD. They’re hopeful it will be dropped by the end of May and are planning a big tour up and down the east coast this summer. In the meantime, they’ll continue their twice a week practice schedule and weekend gigs, while maintaining full-time jobs.
On The Front’s longevity and work ethic are representative of the best of the Chicago music scene. When they talked about their band name, they listed possible meanings that they’d thought of after the fact, and one of them was “on the front lines”. I can imagine that plugging away year after year might begin to feel like it’s a battlefront, but these guys just seem to be having so much fun that meaning doesn’t quite fit. On The Front Page would be more like it.