Uncle Eddie

by Mike Huberty
February 2010

Uncle Eddie, Madison band from the 1990's

Uncle Eddie, Madison band from the 1990's

Madison in the late 90’s had a plethora of clubs and a ton of live alternative rock music. There were plenty of touring bands coming through town with their overdistorted guitars. Lyrics were ironic and most of the time you didn’t know what the fuck bands were talking about. But it was fun, pierced, and dyed weird colors. UNCLE EDDIE was one of the mainstays of the mid to late-90’s scene in town and you could find them all over the scene, not only playing with the band but seeing all the other bands they could and hosting basement parties. Drummer Chad Ovshak, bassist Nate Arnold, and guitarist Darwin Sampson have gone on to play in many other bands since UNCLE EDDIE’s breakup at the beginning of the now-departed Aughts. Sampson now is the proprietor of The Frequency next to the capital and he’s bringing in local and touring rock acts every night of the week. Ovshak has gone on to play in an awesome Guns n’ Roses tribute band, millennial pioneers Echo-Static, and is currently shaking the walls down with horror-rockers, Helliphant. They’ve gotten back together a handful of times and are coming back this February 20th at The Crystal Corner in Madison.

Over a coupla beers (disclosure, I was the one drinking the beers), Darwin discussed the past, future, and present of UNCLE EDDIE. “It was in the 90’s,” he said fairly positively, describing their start, “I’m pretty sure. Probably in ‘93 or ‘94, It was all kind of confusing, it was the summer of LSD. That’s when I got to meet Chad and a friend introduced me to Nate years before. The Fox Valley didn’t have a lot of places to play, it didn’t have a scene. And we looked to Madison as a place instead of Milwaukee and Minneapolis. We were all small-town kids. It made more sense to come to Madison, a lot of the bands we liked were playing here. We got exposed to O’Cayz Corral and that was it and we all eventually just moved down.” O’Cayz was the place for touring bands to come to in that decade and everyone played there from Nirvana to Green Day to Hüsker Dü. It became their hangout.

The band broke up after the end of the decade and according to Sampson it wasn’t anyone’s fault. “When it comes right down to it”, he says, “I just kind of got bored and needed a break. It was after a show at the French Quarter, Luther’s Blues (RIP to another Madison club.) It was a great show and it felt really good. There had been tensions and stuff like that, everyone seems to go through that as a band. I just kinda felt like I needed a break and we put it on break to let it mature a little bit because everybody had personal things to grow through. everybody has that, that’s just life. Just kind of got bored in the late 90’s and the early part of whenever that was. Just waited to get the itch again.”

So everyone’s still friends and now the band’s playing every once in awhile. 17 years on, what’s the difference? “I know from a personal standpoint I feel like I know what I’m doing now.” Darwin laughs. “Back then I felt like I was reaching for style. I can style pick apart my guitar lines and tell you exactly where I stole them from. I can tell you exactly where I ripped it all off from. I think everybody’s a better musicians now.That’s the difference. It makes things a lot easier. There’s a lot less ego because the one thing we’ve always had is that we’ve always been good at relying on each other to fill the space that’s obviously been there. If Nate’s off doing something weird then I know I have to keep it simple or Chad knows he can’t be off doing his stuff. That’s the one thing we’ve always been good at it, but that’s something much better now with maturity and experience. And we’ve all played with so many different people now and you always bring back other people’s good stuff.”

So, check out the Crystal Corner on February 20th and you just get ready to have fun with a band that’s there because they love it. “Be prepared to have a good time and a fun party. That’s what we’re all about, we like to get people shaking their stuff and we like make to people laugh. We don’t know what to expect and we hope people walk out thinking the same thing, ‘I didn’t expect that.’ Just expect to have fun, to have a good time.”

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