Local Current Blog

Happy Suicide Commandos Day (and weekend) in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Steve Almaas, Dave Ahl, and Chris Osgood of the Suicide Commandos (Publicity photo)

It’s official: Friday, May 5 is Suicide Commandos Day in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. “The Suicide Commandos carved a path where there was none before,” writes Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges in her proclamation, which may be the city’s first official mayoral proclamation to cite the Sex Pistols. “The Suicide Commandos helped shape a rock ‘n roll renaissance by peeling back to the basics with a sense of humor and rock history.”

Unofficially, the entire May 5-7 span is “Commando Weekend” in the Twin Cities, as the local punk legends celebrate the release of their new album, Time Bomb. The album will be the first release in 19 years on the storied local label Twin/Tone Records.

While the band’s Chris Osgood says the band are lining up shows for the rest of the summer, you can catch the band for an acoustic performance and a listening party — as well as a “special event” that is yet to be announced.

On Friday, the Turf Club will host a listening party in its Clown Lounge. The party begins at 7 p.m., and Kevin Cole (of KEXP) and Peter Jesperson (of Twin/Tone Records) will spin the record at 7:30. The Suicide Commandos will be there to sign copies of the record, and KFAI host and Minneapolis author Cyn Collins will also be signing her new book on the history of Twin Cities punk, called Complicated Fun — in fact, the book takes its name from a Suicide Commandos song.

Next, the band plays an in-store, acoustic performance at Treehouse Records from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. Dubbed an “Acoustic Hootenanny,” the Suicide Commandos will play a few songs and sign more copies of their record.

The band has an announcement scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Boom Island Park, about what Sunday’s Commando Weekend festivities entail. (It will involve free pancakes, a press release hints.)

“The Suicide Commandos were doing punk rock before anybody else was doing it,” says Terry Katzman in Complicated Fun. “How they interpreted rock and roll and their devil-may-care attitude, bringing so many influences into their sound, influenced a bunch of other bands to do the same thing.”

“Once you saw and heard the Suicide Commandos,” agrees former First Avenue booker Chrissie Dunlap in Collins’s book, “music was changed. So, yeah, they were the first real punk rock band in Minneapolis and the leaders of the pack for that genre.”

Here’s the complete text of Mayor Hodges’s proclamation; Mayor Chris Coleman’s St. Paul proclamation is similar.

WHEREAS The Suicide Commandos formed in 1975 and began to play a new kind of music that would eventually spawn a Minnesota Music Scene that produced The Suburbs, The Replacements, Husker Du, Soul Asylum, Babes in Toyland and many other MN bands; and

WHEREAS The Suicide Commandos carved a path where there was none before. They created a national touring circuit out of whole cloth that many Twin Cities bands followed and created national followings; and

WHEREAS The Suicide Commandos helped shape a rock ‘n roll renaissance by peeling back to the basics with a sense of humor and rock history, alongside bands like The Ramones in New York City and the Sex Pistols in London; and

WHEREAS The Suicide Commandos helped propel the commercial viability of new, independent labels by taking risks on non-major labels and meeting a hunger in the market for a new rock spirit among fans and music entrepreneurs alike, thus creating a market for labels such as Minnesota’s influential Twin/Tone Records and others to follow; and

WHEREAS The Commandos, as they were known fondly by fans and media alike, indulged in consistently producing entertaining nights out in the now-legendary Longhorn Bar in Minneapolis and Kelly’s Pub in St. Paul, as well as CBGB in New York City, The Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles, etc; and

WHEREAS This loud, fast trio was among the earliest subjects of pioneering rock video filmmaker Chuck Statler (Devo, Elvis Costello, et al.) with its song “Burn It Down,” where they played in front of their notorious headquarters, Utopia House, as it burned down in 1977; and

WHEREAS Drummer Dave Ahl, bassist Steve Almaas and guitarist Chris Osgood have continued to contribute to music culture through their professional careers by teaching (Almaas), building state-of-the-art recording studios (Ahl) and working with musicians and artists at Springboard for the Arts and students and McNally Smith College of Music (Osgood); and

WHEREAS The Suicide Commandos continue to ROCK live shows and events “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People” 40 years after their initial reign!; and

WHEREAS The legendary Minnesota label Twin/Tone Records has come back to life to release its first new album in 23 years with The Suicide Commandos first studio album in 39 years, Time Bomb, which releases worldwide today; and

WHEREAS The Minnesota Historical Society is simultaneously releasing Cyn Collins’ “Complicated Fun- The Birth of Minneapolis Punk and Indie Rock 1974-1984” which borrows the Commandos’ song title from Twin/Tone’s “Big Hits of Mid-America Vol. III.”

Therefore I, Betsy Hodges, Mayor of the great City of Minneapolis do hereby declare Friday, May 5th, 2017 to be a day of extreme pride in Minnesota, and I encourage our citizens to join me in recognizing the achievements of The Suicide Commandos, Minnesota’s Music Scene and our cultural contributions to the world.

Jackie Renzetti studies journalism and political science at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. She is an editor at the Minnesota Daily and co-hosts Radio K’s “Off the Record.”