Dead Milkmen

Published on March 4th, 2014


Dead Milkmen

Punk-rock has always been a genre that has housed disparate philosophies under a single roof. The ‘80s saw punk-rock bands experiment with a militant voice to express their disgust with the establishment, with groups like Crass and Discharge leading the assault, absolutely consumed by a shared mission to build sonic weaponry out of ideas. But there were bands simultaneously approaching the fledgling genre from a more humorous angle, crafting irreverent satire with an attitude of being too fucked to really care. Of the myriad groups that attempted the satirical side of punk, none really pulled the trick off with the grace and charm of Philadelphia’s The Dead Milkmen.

Dead_Milkmen_Elsie_Cow_Logo_Hi-ResNoBGThe group was born in the tail end of 1979 out singer/songwriter/guitarist Joe Genaro’s warped, conceptual home recordings — complete with a fictitious backstory, pseudonym’d band members (Genaro went by Joe Jack Talcum at the time), and a biting sarcasm that was always just angry enough to earn the group a space at the punk’s table. For anyone familiar with the ever hilarious “Bitchin’ Camaro,” there is no-doubt that Genaro and Co. were but a step or two away from brilliant sketch comedians. The band — which included drummer Dean Sabatino (Dean Clean), bassist Dave Schulthise (Dave Blood), and keyboardist Rodney Linderman (Rodney Anonymous) — were deft comedic improvisors with a collegiate charm that fueled the music’s humor. Despite the jokes, the Dead Milkmen catalog is rife with tidbits of hidden intellectual fiber for those seeking more more than just a laugh.

For a band that made its bones through its novelty, the Dead Milkmen grew a serious cult following that would eventually blossom into major success including an international hit with “Punk Rock Girl” in 1988, some love from early Mtv, and a brush with a major label that ended in as ugly a manner as one would expect considering the oil and water history of punk bands on majors.

dead milkmen

J. Lee holds the honor of taking the first official band photo in 1983

The band split in the mid ‘90s over the stress that accompanies success and its members focused on their own intellectual pursuits like college linguistics programs and journalism. Unfortunately, original bassist Dave Schulthise tragically committed suicide in 2004, ending any reunion hopes fans may have had in the early aughts. However, 2008 saw the Dead Milkmen return to form, complete with new material, sporadic touring, and the same trademark wit that initially delivered the band from a Philly area novelty to an international success.

The Dead Milkmen will be making one of its rare appearances at Miami’s Grand Central on April 11. The features South Florida’s own punk-rock powerhouse, Sandratz, and Hileah’s gift to eclectic pop, Humbert.  |  RSVP
Dead Milkmen play the following evening, April 12 at Brass Mug in Tampa with Dead Cats Lounge, The Scurvy and Nerds Raging   |  RSVP

~David Von Bader