Q & A with Pete Vercillo of The Bumpus Hounds
by Ian Tomele
For those who do not know who you are, can you give a summary of your personal and band musical en-devours before The Bumpus Hounds?
We are a 3-piece band consisting of myself, Pete Vercillo on bass and lead vocals, my brother, Mike Vercillo on guitar and background vocals, and our dear friend, Mike Webb on the drum kit. Mike and Mike played in some bands together back in the late 90’s called “Last Call,” and “Nowadays.” I was in “Punching Grey” in late 90’s-early 2000’s, “The Hecklers” in 2003-2004 and in “Dummy Room” for it’s short existence of 2008-2010. We all agree this is the best band all of us have been in.
Can you recall a moment in time, whether at a live show or listening to a specific record where you knew that Punk rock was your bastard child?
I pretty much figured that out very early on. I’d say some time around 6th or 7th grade (late 80’s) that I was a sucker for power-chords. All of this culminated in the early 90’s where it felt like the music scene, especially in Chicago at the time, was exploding. Punk Rock, especially from all the live shows I was attending, seriously made every other form of music seem boring, and non-existent.
Locked in an overheating van for one week with nothing to eat but refried beans and the 2012 Illinois farting champion. Which 5 cd’s are going to be in the chamber?
Wow…I’d have to think about that one a bit. Off the top of my head; I’ll say Naked Raygun -“Throb Throb,” Pegboy - “Strong Reaction,” Jawbox - “Novelty,” Social Distortion - “Live at the Roxy" (which I consider to be one of the best "Live" recordings ever; rivaling Cheap Trick’s "(Live at) Budokan”, The Who’s “Live at Leeds” and some others), The Buzzcocks - “Singles Going Steady,” and maybe a Clash albumn.
How and why did the hounds come into existence? Where did the band name come from?
Well we got the band name from the movie, “A Christmas Story.” The Bumpus Hounds are who the next door neighbors dogs are in the movie. They basically terrorize the main character’s father every chance they get; and their main achievement is the whole pack of dogs running through the house ransacking everything in their path and destroying the kitchen. Namely, they all eat the whole Christmas turkey that the falinly was planning on eating before the hounds came through. We figured what’s more punk rock than a pack of wild dogs rolling through your house and wrecking everything. plus, the movie has now become our generation’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” so to speak. It’s played 24 hours a day on Christmas every year.
The band came into existence because we all wanted to start doing something again; and we felt there was a lack for “The Chicago Sound.” meaning bands like Naked Raygun, Pegboy, The Effigies, Screeching Weasel, The Bollweevils. They all have their unique sound; but they have a common thread of great, big guitar sounds; and an excellent balance of aggression and melody. Those are the staples or foundation for what I based most of my writing on for The Bumpus Hounds’ songs.
How do you feel the local Chicago punk scene matches up with the rest of the country?
I would think it matches up pretty well. I mean, most of my favorite bands are from here. I think the scene was white-hot in the early to mid-90’s. Now as people are older, and the whole genre has been either watered down or over-mass-produced; there is a sense of jadedness I see. I mean, Chicago is a place where if you’re not really “slaying” up there on stage; you’re not gonna get an overwhelming or enthusiastic response. People are jaded in the sense that they think they have seen everytyhing or heard everything already. Lots of other people have told me this too. Like, a band that plays and says “Man, we just played Louisville and everyone was going apeshit. Then we come here and it’s like, M’eh.”
That being said; there is still a very progressive and successful independent music scene and market here. I think the whiole DIY culture is responsible for a lot of venues that have came into being and a lot of other key components for what a “scene” is.
I don’t know; I haven’t really been anywhere else for an extended period (besides London…but nothing musically exciting was going on while I was there).
If you could be one food product what would you be and why?
Toss up between an Italian beef sandwich or a bottle of maple syrup. The beef because I’m Italian and that sandwich is specific to Chicago, and also one of my favorite foods of all time. the maple syrup because, i don’t know…there’s something sexy about it. Sticky, sweet, and warm-buttered goodness.
Do The Bumpus Hounds have any shows and/or releases coming up? What does the future hold in store for us from you guys?
We are playing Subterranean Lounge this Friday, 1/18. We’re doing a Live performance on WZRD 88.3 FM on Thursday 1/24. We’re probably doing a Valentine’s day show at Liars Club. We’ve got of bunch of new songs coming very soon. 3 of those will start being played live this friday show or the next show.
When playing bass live, who do you imagine you are fondling when you close your eyes and bit your lip?
The same trifecta I always imagine fondling, Wonderwoman, Jessica Rabbit, and Princess Leia in her Return of the Jedi sand-barge bikini.
Have you ever been star struck? If so who? when? where?
Chicago pizza vs New York pizza…. go!
Chicago pizza is by far better. Let me tell you something. I know pizza, ok? In fact, I’m in between jobs right now and delivering for a friend’s NY style pizza place. it’s called Five Boroughs Pizza. The food is great. However, Chicago brings a lot more to the table. There’s more flavor, and there’s more to eat. I’m not even talking about deep dish or pan pizza verses thin crust. The thin crust in Chicago is better than the thin crust in NY. It’s not really even debatable in my eyes.
How many licks to the center of a tootsie pop?
Well I know the owl says 3; but he’s got a beak that is meant to cut through bones and stuff. So basically the tootsie pop owl is a cheater. I’m gonna guess 147. I don’t know why. But actually, 147 is Herb Rosen’s (of Liar’s Club, Rights of The Accused, Beer Nuts fame) favorite number. The place says “Liars Club Post #147.” One our new songs is called “Post #147.”
Actually; I’m gonna say 84 licks to get to the Tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop.
How can we find out more information on what you and the Hounds are up to?
You can always send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are our websites:
Or you will find us on the street. Be careful though; these dogs bite!
Catch The Bumpus Hounds Friday January 18 at Subterranean.