An interview with Chris Benner (Guitar/Vocals), Phil Nelson (Guitar/Vocals), joined later by Matt Gregorec (Bass/Vocals), and Mike Fisher (Drums)
by Scott Hefflon
Does everyone in the band sing?
Digger #1: Everyone except for Mike. He’s behind the drums.
Digger #2: It’s not that he can’t sing, it’s that we don’t have enough mics.
Digger #1: And he sounds like Julio Iglesias.
Lyrically, Digger reminds me of Nerf Herder, the first band signed to Lagwagon singer Joey’s My Records label.
Digger #1: Does that mean that they sing about goofy stuff and don’t enunciate?
Exactly: Parachute pants and feathered hair…
Digger #1: We’d like to hang out with them. Show off our parachute pants wardrobe.
Were you into the white high-tops, or was that too much of a metal thing?
Digger #1: Well, we were all metalheads at one time.
Digger #2: I like tight jeans. I also like jean jackets with Metallica back patches.
Digger #1 We have Poison fans in this band.
Digger #2: Um, maybe we shouldn’t talk about that.
I really related to “Rollercoster Girl.” I grew up near an amusement park. I used to follow chicks with big hair and tight jeans around for hours before I finally started talking to them.
Digger #1: They must have had a Tilt-A-Whirl, right? I remember every time I went on the Whirl-N-Barf, there’d be kitty litter on at least one of the cars ’cause someone puked.
You’d have to wait until they hosed the floor off. That’s the one where you’re plastered to the wall and the floor drops out, right?
Digger #1: No, that’s the Time Machine.
Digger #2: No, that’s The Enterprise. Anti-gravity… anti-lunch.
What amusement park did you go to?
Digger (ALL): Dorney Park.
Digger #1: It used to be really cool, but I think it got bought up by Hanna-Barbera or something. There used to be this clown mascot guy, I can’t remember his name, but now they have people running around in Scooby Doo suits and stuff.
You’re so old school. They probably have Aladdins and Lion Kings…
Digger #1: Can you imagine being a little kid now? You’ve got these big blue guys running all over the place!
It took me years to get over the image of big, fuzzy Smurfs running around, waving, and shaking people’s hands.
Digger #1: Unless they had midgets do it. They wouldn’t even wear costumes, they’d just be painted blue. They’d grab onto your leg, and you’d spend the rest of the day trying to shake them off.
Digger #2: They had no nipples or belly buttons, and no body hair.
Digger #1: Papa Smurf had a beard, and Smurfette had hair.
They didn’t have hairy chests or backs, nor palms, for that matter.
Digger #1: I think Hefty used to wax.
I guess Hairy Smurf was considered too traumatizing for TV.
Digger #1: I think they saved that for the porno version. Ron Jeremy, by any chance?
Digger #1: You saw that? I got a story from the Net where a lot of people wrote in about the annual Get Down on Smurfette ceremony.
By the way, I really like “I Want My Hat Back.”
Digger #1: I wrote the lyrics for that one.
Digger #2: I wrote some of the lyrics.
Digger #1: Oh yeah. Well, I told you what to write. That’s a true story. Some girl seduced me, and I ran away. I forgot my hat, so I had to go back and ask for it.
Digger #2: You went back? Me too!
Digger #3: I was down on this girl once, a long time ago…
Digger #1: You were “down on her?”
Digger #3: Yeah, and her sister came home, so she made me run out the back. So I’m running through the woods, and I’m like, “Shit. I forgot my hat.” I had to go back to get it, and her sister looked at me all weird.
Digger #4: Everyone’s lost their hat to a girl once.
Is it a hat thing, or could the hat be a symbol?
Digger #3: People ask that, but I don’t think so.
Digger #4: There’s a lot in a hat.
Digger #1: I don’t even wear hats, but I’ve lost shirts…
Digger #2: It’s not the same. Mike (#3?) gets down with his hat on. He’ll have his pants around his ankles, hat still on. He’ll be naked and greased, but his hat will still be on. And his socks.
What’s “Day In The Life Of Joel” about?
Digger #1: Joel’s our first bass player. He goes to Northeastern in Boston now.
Digger #2: We can call him on the three-way. Let’s get more people on the phone.
Digger #1: Joel Heidecker.
You covered Madonna’s “True Blue;” what other covers do you do?
Digger #1: We used to do “867-5309,” but the Bollweevils do the best cover of that.
Digger #2: We did a medley of “Summer of 69,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and “Jessie’s Girl.”
Digger #3: But that’s nothing compared to “Weird Al”‘s medleys. I’m glad to hear the accordion back in punk rock where it belongs.
Digger #1: It’s the same ideology, really. Drunken abandon. We have a lot of polka tents around here. We started out as a polka band. A lot of people don’t know that.
Did you get more gigs as a polka band than as a punk band?
Digger #1: Oh yeah. We got paid more too.
Did you write original polka, or was it all covers?
Digger #1: We did it all.
Have you ever played a wedding?
Digger #2: No, but we played a Beef ‘n’ BarBQ. That was our first show. That was a really bad idea.
Digger #1: It was the only show we ever did with Joel though.
Digger #2: We banned Matt from booking shows after that.
Digger #1: We had to play 500 feet from the real party, way back at the end of the yard.
Digger #2: There were about 20 people watching us when we started. After the second song, there were only two. They turned up the music in the house so they couldn’t hear us.
Digger #4: It was two metalheads and a little girl.
Digger #1: We opened with “Warfare,” this metal intro song. Chug-chugga-chugga-chug Weaor!
Digger #2: Lots of palm-mutes and screaming harmonics.
Digger #1: Pickslides and pyrotechnics, the works.
Did you slide across the stage on your knees?
Digger (ALL): It was grass. We all had grass stains. Can we talk about something else?
How would you describe your style? It’s not all punk per se, and it’s got a lot of, like, indie rock in it. So it’s kinda like punk/rock.
Digger #1: Right. What was the question?
Digger #4: We don’t worry too much what kind of style we’re playing, we just try to rock all the time.
Digger (ALL): THANKS MATT!