Doughboys Interview: December 1993


Montreal, Canada is a county away from Minneapolis, Minnesota. What the two have in common is the Doughboys, a Canadian quartet that BS many of its punk-pop musical cues from the Minneapolis “all-rock” gods, Husker Du and the Replacements. Singer/guitarist/founder John Kastner phoned SLUG ten days before the band’s co-headlining stint with The Buzzcocks on November 23.

The Doughboys are John Kastner on guitar and vocals, Jon Widdalee Cummins on guitars and vocals, Peter Arsenault on bass guitar and vocals, with Paul Newman on drums.

SLUG: Even though you’re all Canadians, I would definitely say you guys sound very American.

John: We grew up listening to American bands, especially the Ramones, and that’s bound to show up in our music, but we’re not writing our songs with the intention of sounding like other bands. We’re just guys in our ’20s who were influenced by the music from 1976 to 1980.

SLUG: The band you’re most often compared to is Husker Du. Do you find that comparison fair?

John: To some extent, yeah. Husker Du really influenced a whole generation of bands, not just us.

SLUG: Actually, a lot of your early musical experience is in the punk-rock genre, isn’t it?

John: Yeah, quite a few people in Canada still remember me from the Asexuals. We wanted to be Black Flag back then.

SLUG: How do you think your sound and your music have changed since those days?

John: We’ve been all over the musical map since then. We’ve tried pop, funk and psychedelia. But we always come back to punk and have always kept the pop.

SLUG: Your new record (The Doughboys’ major-label debut, Crush) is probably your best and most consistent effort to date. You’ve also been quoted as saying it sounds the most like you.

John: Definitely. This really is the way the band sounds. For a couple of years, we’ve been kind of getting off the track, but we’re back. I can honestly say that this is our best album.

SLUG: On Crush, you worked with Daniel Rey (the Ramones, L7, lggy Pop). What do you think he brought to the recording sessions?

John: He was great to work with. He made sure the pop was in the pop and the punk. He basically made sure things were stripped down to the guitar and drums, which is what we are live.

SLUG: Speaking of your live performances, how do you think they differ from your records.

John: It’s never really possible to duplicate your live sound when you record, because there are no fans to push you harder. And our fans really push us to our limits, musically.

SLUG: Well, John, good luck on the tour and have fun playing with your heroes (the band has been co-headlining shows with both Redd Kross and The Buzzcocks.)

John: I’m sure we’ll have fun. I just hope you guys enjoy our show.

More from the SLUG Archives:
Television: August 1991
Poem: Body