|Origin||Elgin, Illinois, USA|
|Genres||Punk rock, Ska punk|
|Years active||1993–1996, periodic reunion performances thereafter|
|Labels||Asian Man Records|
Brendan Kelly |
Slapstick is a punk-ska fusion band from the Chicago area that was primarily active from 1993 to 1996. Started by a group of friends from the Elgin area, the group took inspiration from Operation Ivy and the guttural punk vocals of Crimpshrine. Since disbanding in 1996 Slapstick has periodically reunited to perform shows for various reasons, including benefits and anniversaries. The band is known for being the root of the "Slapstick Family Tree", a group of musical projects which spawned from members of Slapstick, including Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms, The Broadways, Tuesday, Duvall, Colossal, The Honor System and The Falcon.
Final (and ‘current’) members
- Brendan Kelly: vocals
- Dan Andriano: bass, backing vocals
- Dan Hanaway: trumpet, backing vocals
- Matt Stamps: guitar
- Rob Kellenberger: drums, backing vocals
- Peter Anna: trombone
- Karl Henkelmann: trumpet
Slapstick played typically fast-paced ska with gruff vocals, which set them apart from most other bands of the time. The band was active until 1996. They have 2 full-length releases: the album Lookit! was released on Mike Park's now-defunct Dill Records, and later on his next and still-active label Asian Man Records; and a self-titled compilation (also referred to as 25 Songs or Discography) was released on Asian Man, featuring the songs from Lookit!, a few unreleased songs, and 6 new songs that were intended to be released on a 10" record had the band not split.
Prior to the release of these albums, the band had released two 7" vinyl EPs: Superhero, which came in various colours of vinyl and with two different covers; and Crooked, which featured 4 songs later released on Lookit! (and by extension the eponymous compilation). Superhero was originally self-released, and later repressed and released alongside Crooked on Dyslexic Records. A few songs were released exclusively on now out-of-print compilations, and thus remain unavailable. The band also released a split with Tommyrot, and a few demo tapes containing otherwise unreleased songs. Thus, the self-titled 'discography' is not technically a complete collection.
Breakup and legacy
Slapstick broke up because we couldn't write songs together anymore. Dan or I would bring a song in and Matt, Danny and Rob wouldn't like it. Conversely, those three would bring in songs and Dan and I wouldn't like them. The creative process stagnated. it has a lot to do with the fact that none of us really ever liked ska a lot. It was a phase for all of us and once we got through the phase, writing ska became hard to do (not to mention silly). We had different ideas about what direction Slapstick should go, and there was no other resolution. We are all still great friends though.
- Brendan Kelly 
Subsequent projects by (ex-)members
The members of Slapstick went on to form a number of notable groups. Andriano, Stamps and Kellenberger formed Tuesday. Likewise, Kelly and Hanaway formed The Broadways with Rob DePaola and Tricky Dick guitarist Chris McCaughan. Tuesday eventually broke up in 1998, when Andriano joined Matt Skiba in Alkaline Trio. The Broadways also broke up in 1998, after which Kelly and McCaughan started the still-active The Lawrence Arms, and a little later Hanaway and DePaola formed The Honor System. In 2004, Kelly and Andriano collaborated once again in the Chicago supergroup The Falcon. Kellenberger later formed Colossal, and briefly played with the Smoking Popes. Trombonist Pete Anna played in Less Than Jake from 1998-2001.
After years of refusing, and occasionally mocking, fans' requests to play songs from their old bands, The Lawrence Arms performed Slapstick's "Broken Down" and songs by The Broadways at the Asian Man Records 11th anniversary show. They also performed these songs on their 2007 tour, in which their own side-projects, Sundowner and The Falcon, served as support acts; this was probably to somewhat round out the 'family tree' aspect of these shows.
On November 23, 1997, Slapstick reunited for two final shows at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago. The shows were a benefit for a family in need, and they ended up raising over $7,000, both selling out. In 2006 Asian Man Records released a DVD of the second show, filmed by bassist Dan Andriano's dad. It also features optional video commentary by Brendan Kelly and Rob Kellenberger.
On June 15, 2011, all the original members of Slapstick reunited at Slim's in San Francisco, for the Asian Man Records 15th Anniversary Festival. After two other reunited Asian Man Records bands – The Chinkees and MU330 – opened, Slapstick played an hour-long set, constantly poking fun at how old they were, how little they like to play ska, and how they were "uh, Slapstick, I guess". Many fans requested Lawrence Arms songs from Kelly, who said this was like his wife asking him to put his pants back on. Late in the set, a drunken Matt Skiba of fellow Chicago punk rock band Alkaline Trio joined Slapstick on stage, slurring, gushing, giving hugs to all the band members, and even engaging in drunken humour at risk of misinterpretation.