Top 40 Before 40 Rock Artists - #25 - Screeching Weasel

Well, hooray, hurrah, we're half way to the end of this countdown of epic proportions!

I would say that this band is probably one of the more obscure choices for my top 40, but they are one of the most influential bands to me personally, AND they made some really killer music when I was in my teens and 20’s (and to some extent, they still do make pretty good music).

I will say that Screeching Weasel does have some major turn offs with some of their music, but I am pretty sure that is the point that they are trying to make when they change their style or songwriting techniques.

I will explain in just a moment.

For those of you who are just joining this list at this point, let me give a quick summary below:

  • In my almost 40 years on this planet, I have had the great pleasure of listening to a lot of music that doesn't make it to the airwaves, and a lot of these bands are some of my absolute favorites.
  • You WILL see some Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame bands on the list too, but for the most part, you are likely going to disagree with this list almost entirely.
  • I am sharing this ranking so that you get some insight into some great bands you may have never heard before AND for a little bit of a personal challenge to myself to rank these bands.

With that said, let's get to #25 on my Top 40 List Before 40:

Photo courtesy of Screeching Weasel Facebook page (photographer unnamed)

#25 - Screeching Weasel

Screeching Weasel is a punk band from Chicago that has been around since literally the 1980’s. Yeah, they are some original punk rockers.

I remember on some interview (or maybe just a Facebook live or something) where frontman, Ben “Weasel” Foster, said that Screeching Weasel was never really “punk” but rather “anti punk.” The concept didn’t really make much sense other than he was trying to say (I think) that he was never trying to fit in with the “punk rock crowd” as that wasn’t his intention.

This would definitely have fooled me (and probably every other fan of theirs though) because what they make is some pretty damn good punk rock music. Own it, Ben. Ha ha.

Now, I would be a fool to not mention the absolute dysfunctionality of this group (or, mostly Foster himself). 

For many years, Foster has befriended many independent rock musicians and underground punk rockers only to alienate them with some form of complete and utter disrespect. Almost all accounts of anyone who works with Foster make the guy seem like a total jerk.

I can’t say for sure one way or the other as I have never met nor spoken to him personally, but what I can say for certain is that he can write a catchy tune with one of the most “not so friendly to the ears” voices.

For some reason, I have always liked the band’s music, even though I will admit it was a bit of an acquired taste.

It was tough to get past some of the strained vocals at first, and as I put them at #25 it is mostly due to the fact that I got more ideas about how to write songs, how to play songs and how to create harmonious elements to songs from Screeching Weasel than I probably have from any other band I have ever listened to.

How that’s the case, I am still not quite sure, but I have personally always found the music and the lyrics very inspiring even when written about topics that are not that relatable to me personally.

The one episode that really cost Screeching Weasel pretty much every ounce of integrity they ever had though was when Foster punched two separate women at a show when they performed at the SXSW Festival in Texas back in 20011.

This actually led to the entire band quitting on Foster (who later rebuilt the band without any of the previous members).

To say that this band is tumultuous is an understatement, and there are many good reasons why they have never achieved mainstream notoriety. I am not sure they would have ever wanted it anyway.

All that said, I would love for you to check out some of their work, because to me, they make really good old school punk music.

Hit up the albums Bark Like a Dog, Emo, Television City Dream and Boogadaboogadaboogada! in that order. 

Those are my personal favorites, and if you can get through one full album, you may become a fan as well.

Similar Artists That I Recommend That Didn't Make The Top 40:

Millencolin, Pennywise

<-- Check out #26 on this list or Check out #24 on this list → (Available Mar. 9, 2021)