Four math rockers and a funeral

The boys of Botch bid goodbye.

BOTCH, THE BLOOD BROTHERS, HARKONEN, PLAYING ENEMY

Showbox, 628-3151, $10 adv. 8 p.m. Sat., June 15

THERE'S A SURPRISINGLY crisp old photograph on Botch's Web site in which all four members—circa senior year in high school—dog pile on Santa's lap, laughing giddily. They look like tools, frankly, closer to Color Me Badd than mind-fucking math-rock superheroes. The picture, taken in 1993, speaks volumes for fans, family, and friends but probably says the most to Botch themselves.

That intangible, effortless camaraderie may be remembered over drinks after midnight—perhaps even recaptured as conversations wear on—but for Botch, it'll only translate to rock 'n' roll one more time. Which is, duh, where it matters most. Plenty of white boys have started bands, guzzled assloads of beer, and become "brothers" in the process; few made music as clever in such a limiting genre as these guys.

Like contemporaries and friends Murder City Devils, Botch is going out with a Caligula-style farewell: a final, frenzied Showbox gig coinciding with the appearance of a swan-song EP, An Anthology of Dead Ends.

Although guitarist Dave Knudson has moved on to lascivious local supergroup Minus the Bear, vocalist Dave Verellen, bassist Brian Cook, and drummer Tim Latona are in musical limbo. They'll rehearse just once before their last show, and communication among the members has been scarce in recent weeks.

Too bad. Botch has always been an inspired group interview, constantly spurring one another to be smarter and funnier. Regrettably, most of the following conversations had to be conducted individually in the dead time before and after day jobs. Hence, the ensuing dialogue is arranged to create one last bullshit session, Botch's unsung forte.

BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO

Brian Cook: It was obvious that the whole last year and a half we've had crazy writer's block, so everyone was getting frustrated. What it came down to is that me and Tim at least wanted to put out another album . . .

Tim Latona: . . . and tour on it. And Dave Verellen, too.

Cook: Well, I think Dave Verellen just wanted to keep going forever.

Latona: We broke up because Dave Knudson wanted to do other things. Nobody else in the band really wanted it to end when it ended.

Dave Verellen: If you're gonna use the title Botch, you've gotta sound kinda like what people know as Botch. Dave [Knudson] just kept coming up with this stuff that turned into the Minus the Bear sound. So it was like, "Well, if that's all you're gonna write, we're gonna have a lot of trouble, because it's not making everyone happy."

Dave Knudson: I'll tell you right now that Botch was always my No. 1 thing; then we had all these problems with writing, and I was like, "OK, well, I have all these other riffs, so I want to start something else," because I was hoping sparking my creativity somewhere else would lead to finding something Botch could do. I almost feel guilty in a sense, but at the same time I don't because . . . we've done so much more than we ever thought we would.

Verellen: We all get along now, but it took a while for us to kinda heal. You can't help but be like, "Godammit, you know, why don't you want to be in this band anymore?" But at the same time I totally respect [Knudson's] decision. The Bear's doing really well, and they're all happy to be in a band together. I can't knock that.

Cook: Do you think there's hard feelings?

Latona: With what, [Knudson}? . . . That's not something I really want to talk about in an interview, personally.

Knudson: Me and Tim would argue probably the most out of everybody, and it would get pretty intense; but then it'd get smoothed over. Honestly, I haven't talked to him too much since we recorded the [new EP]. He was bummed out about certain things, and we had our disagreements. I think once we get together and rehearse, stuff will be fine.

THE LAST GASP

Knudson: The thing I'll probably miss the most is having a shitty week and being like, "Hey, I have a show this weekend. All right, I'm gonna fucking just beat the shit out of my guitar." It's a great release, and I'm sure everyone feels that way, whether it's Tim beating the shit out of his drums or Dave yelling or Brian being weird Brian onstage.

Cook: The thing I'm worried about is, that last Murder City Devils show . . . I thought they were better the night before in Portland.

Latona: We're actually just going to eat a bowl of cereal onstage.

Cook: We could [play a long time] if we don't have cardiac arrest.

Knudson: I'm really looking forward to the last show because I want it to be the epitome of Botch. I need to start working out right now.

BOTCH II: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO?

Latona: Two years after we started this band, we all decided if anybody leaves, that's the end. If we brought in, like, you [to play guitar] every night, when we heard you play a wrong note, we'd be like, "Fucking idiot, man. Dumbass."

Verellen: I can see doing one show somewhere down the line . . . for, like, a million bucks. No, trust me, I'd be first in line to keep this goddamn band together.

Knudson: I could totally see doing anything with any of those people that's not Botch but something else that's creative and fun . . . and maybe more aggressive.

OH YEAH, THE NEW EP

(An Anthology of Dead Ends tracklist: (1) Spaim, (2) Japam, (3) Framce, (4) Vietmam, (5) Afghamistam, (6) Micaragua.)

Latona: It's an in-joke gone awry. Somebody theorized that all those countries are countries where America has a strong military presence, but we changed the n's to m's to stand for "military."

Cook: I like the theory that it's not netal; it's metal. Or that we're a nu metal band so we had to misspell them.

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