Peak Eradicator, the new record from Chicago squash-punk outfit The Eradicator, is part fan fiction, part truth. It follows the titular character—The Eradicator, a combative, ski-mask-wearing squash player—as he tries to find his place in the world and the local squash club standings, backed by fist-pumping, Fucked Up-meets-Andrew W.K. anthemics. Live in concert, The Eradicator is in character, masked and driven solely by squash. But behind it all is vocalist and guitarist Andy Slania, a regular dude working in IT trying to find his place in the world, too.
Slania grew up on Kids In The Hall, which originated The Eradicator character: a weird, mischievous sportsfreak breaking into boardroom meetings to challenge “pusshead” businessmen to squash matches, swatting the air with his racket. It stuck with Slania, who understood The Eradicator as an outsider. “He was such an oddball character that always stuck in the back of my mind,” he says. “That character was just a misfit and an outcast from the start, and I think that always resonated.”
Like the original sketch, The Eradicator and Peak Eradicator are absurdist, but Slania roots the character in his own experience. “You have to draw on looking at the character as if he was a real-life human being: what things happened in his life to get him to the point where he’s a masked squash person? I’m trying to bring a humanist element to that artificial character.”
Slania began writing the first Eradicator EP in 2013. He didn’t have any song ideas, so he decided to write about the weirdo squash player. “That’s how the first song came about, then I wrote another one, and I just kept going with that same concept,” he says. Slania recruited guitarist Steve Maury and bassist Ryan Bollis, both formerly of Milwaukee punk band Galactic Cannibal, along with guitarist Scott Thomson and drummer Danny Walkowiak, to bring The Eradicator to life. Slania wrote and sequenced Peak Eradicator in his jam space before sharing it with the rest of the band, who played the songs for the first time on record.
Peak Eradicator carries the hardcore hallmarks of Slania’s previous work and the poppy composition and major-key riffing of Maury and Bollis’ former outfit. Through the record, The Eradicator faces down competitors and sports-related injuries, loses friends and reflects on falling in love (with his racket). “I’mma Be Me,” a barrelling anthem of self-love and weirdo empowerment, crescendos with jubilant, harmonized lead guitars over thundering half-time drums before Slania bursts back in, roaring: “I’MMA BE ME!” “You Know Too Much About Me Already” kicks off with power-punk chording as The Eradicator details the difficulties of maintaining his anonymity off the court, a struggle Slania connects to his separation of his corporate office life and punk alter-ego. (He likens it to George Costanza’s efforts to keep Relationship George and Independent George isolated from one another.) Later, it dips into dance punk on “Future Olympian,” a track that spiritually and literally borrows from Atom and His Package. Atom Goren recorded backing vocals for the song, which Slania arranged with pre-programmed drums and keyboard bass.
Ultimately, Slania wants The Eradicator to be a place where he and listeners can both feel at home. “By going into a room and getting out of my element and into a different one, it’s my own form of escapism,” he says. “If that translates where other people also escape from whatever reality they have, and get into this insane absurd world, that’s awesome.”
On closer “Until We Meet Again,” The Eradicator reminds us of the two reasons for his existence: to support us and to dominate the squash court. “Will I let you down? FUCK NO. Will I lose the match? FUCK NO.”
1) Call +The (ERA) DIC-ATOR
3) I’mma Be Me
4) Peak Eradicator
5) You Know Too Much About Me Already
6) Prepare for Battle
7) Judge, Jury, & The Eradicator
9) You’ve Gotta Go
10) Future Olympian
11) The Ultimate Irony
12) Baby, You’re So Worth the Investment
13) Until We Meet Again
/100 on Clear w/ Blue Splatter (Say-10 Exclusive version)
/100 on Blue (The Eradicator Release Show Version)
/300 on Green