CAFETERIA DANCE FEVER is breaking up. Just don't tell the band's guitarist/vocalist, Cain Hendricks. "This band spends most of its time at death's door—my favorite place," Hendricks says, "yet popular demand forces us to remain a semi-viable concern."
However, bassist Tim Janchar says the band will play its final hometown show this week. "Cain forgets to take his medication every now and then and he's still in denial about the breakup," he says. They'll go on to do a two-week European tour and then hang it up for good, as guitarist Mark Janchar—Tim's brother—is relocating to Austin.
It's the end of a choppy seven years for Cafeteria Dance Fever, marked by a string of 7- and 12-inches, several broken guitars, and multiple post-tour breakups. They leave behind a catalog of abrasively catchy, queasy punk songs that each scarcely top out at a minute's length; 24 of them are collected on the new Danceology CD, which barely hits the 30-minute mark. Two new songs, "Add Hominid Attack (to Your List of Fears)" and "Swimming Pool," bookend the collection with, respectively, a full-throttle garage number and a near-epic three-minute suite of doo-wop weirdness. "'Swimming Pool' is our 'American Pie,'" Tim says.
Hendricks, the band's primary songwriter, adds, "That one was a true collaboration, and might point the way for the future of CDF songwriting... Oh wait, we're breaking up."
The band's history is entwined with that of Hovercraft Records, the DIY label started by the Janchars to release records of their own bands—at first. It soon developed an impressive roster of local garage and punk, including the Bugs, Clorox Girls, Hey Lover, Mole People, Autorace, and more. "I felt it was important to bring high-energy impactful music to a broader audience," says Tim, adding that Hovercraft is happily carrying on, with 7-inches from Suicide Notes and BOOM! scheduled for the summer.
Tim recalls what happened after the band's 2009 breakup, which didn't stick. "I blame the French. They will always pull you back in," he says. "We had all the intention of calling it quits after that show, but for some reason we have been able to successfully tour Europe, particularly France. We were convinced to go back to France in 2010 and recorded a new 7-inch for the tour. The French have a bizarre taste in music. I guess you could call us the Jerry Lewis of garage rock."
Hendricks remembers that tour: "Tim smashed a toy piano to splinters with his face while filming for a French internet TV show, and the camera wasn't even on him."
With so many breakups and reformations, it doesn't seem implausible that Hendricks remains optimistic. "I'm going to try to trick Tim and Sacia [Dillon, the band's drummer and co-vocalist] into continuing in some form, at least record another song or a triple album and tour Japan or something," he says.
A couple days later, however, I get an email from Hendricks that points toward the finality of this particular breakup. "I had been getting signals that we would probably carry on rocking," he writes, "so it was a surprise to see Tim's forwarded email exchanges with you talking about the end of the band. I'm out of the loop, the black sheep of an otherwise very close-knit band.
"P.S. Do you know anyone who wants to be in a Cafeteri-esque band? 'Cuz I think I might need to start over this summer."