Wednesday, August 3, 2011
In my discussions with the members of The Dizeazoes the subject of beer was popular. In fact, in preparation for the bands first show Larry Dardick said that the band didn't have a great deal of time to prepare, and as a result band approached the opportunity as a chance "to be ourselves, have a good time and drink a few beers". Their beer of choice was Blatz, the unofficial official beer of The Dizeazoes. Dardick preferred Blatz because it "was affordable and sounded cool". Jeff Rosen remembers being with Wheeler and Dardick at "either a liquor store or a super market, looking for beer", when Wheeler saw Blatz on the shelf and "was impressed by the name".
The allure of the name was the fact that it lacked any sort of ostentation.
"How pretentious can a beer named Blatz be?" asked Dardick, parenthetically, in an email.
The beer we know as Blatz today has an interesting history. The Valentin Blatz Brewing Company was founded in Milwaukee in 1850 and, after merging with the City Brewery, produced Milwaukee's first bottled beer in 1874, and thrived throughout the early parts of the 20th century. The Blatz brewery was one of the first to use freshness dates on their bottles, and helped to make Milwaukee a brewing capitol after prohibition. In later years Blatz was purchased by Pabst Brewing Company, then by G Heileman (Old Style), then Stroh's, before eventually ending up, once again, as a Pabst product. In addition to The Dizeazoes, at least one other band important to the history of punk rock were fans of Blatz, these guys, who actually named their band after the beer, of whom,I'm sure many of us have "fond" memories.
Paul Wheeler on the importance of Blatz:
"I had never heard of Blatz beer until I got to Columbia, MO. It was a discount brand, and I became rather obsessed with it. If the store had no Blatz beer, I would go somewhere else to get my beer. Why? I don't think the taste was anything special, though I quickly learned to enjoy it... I became obsessed with it because of the name. It tasted fine, too, but I loved the name which sounded a bit like the result of too much beer hitting the floor.
"We were in college at the time, and had not learned the art of responsible drinking. There was a good amount of drinking going on at rehearsals, though most of us had to limit the drinking to in between the songs. I don't think we ever drank enough to hurt the quality of our rehearsals... As I remember, rehearsals lasted over an hour and under three hours. It was just good fun. Sometimes we worked on a new song, sometimes we just played through songs we knew. Anyone could call out a song. I think it was usually the singers who picked what they wanted to sing. Sometimes they'd shuffle through the lyrics I'd written out and pick something, or we'd pick something, and they'd have to find the lyrics in the pile if they didn't already know them. It was mostly freeform, unless Larry was teaching us a new song. It was a fun way to relax, and we pretended we were being constructive. I'm actually not sure if Blatz was always available in St. Louis, but I love the idea of Blatz being the “official” Dizeazoes beer!"