Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!
The Dead Milkmen existed on paper before they were ever a live act. The band are well known for their sly humor and, fittingly, started out as something of a joke. Founder Joe Genaro was writing a parody of fan club letters of popular bands, finding the style and tone of them ludicrous and over the top. He invented ‘The Dead Milkmen’ as a fictitious band for the satirical newsletter to revolve around. This spur-of-the-moment creation inspired Joe and the other members to actually form the band.
The Dead Milkmen played their first live show at the Harleysville Youth Center in Pennsylvania. The band had never performed all together before, and Dean Sabatino met Rodney Linderman for the first time moments before they began to play. The band recalls an audience of roughly 14 people — dwindling by two after a woman took her daughter away, offended by the band’s colorful language.
The band has stated that they have no explanation for their name, and that Joe Genarod doesn’t remember why he picked it.
The Dead Milkmen had a dramatic encounter with the law during a mid-tour stopover in Tucson, Arizona. As the band pulled into their hotel parking lot, their van was stopped and encircled by a squadron of police cars. The band were told to exit the vehicle one at a time, hands behind their head, while an officer kept his gun trained on the van. The band were handcuffed and patted down before ultimately being let go, the official explanation being a case of mistaken identity. They were never told who or what the police were looking for.
At one point, the Dead Milkmen toured in a converted ambulance, dubbed the “Jambulance.” It was the group’s first big investment as a band. In an interview with Monster Fresh, Rodney Linderman revealed that they used to turn on the flashing lights, loudly blow whistles out the window, and speed toward their destination screaming “Hospital, emergency!”. After putting heavy mileage on the vehicle (200,000 miles, as jokingly estimated by Linderman), the Jambulance was sold to another band.
Each original band member has a pseudonym used in association with an act. These are: Rodney Anonymous (Rodney Linderman), Joe Jack Talcum (Joe Genaro), Dave Blood (Dave Schulthise), and Dean Clean (Dean Sabatino).