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Superchunk’s Jason Narducy draws on his middle-school punk roots in new musical Verböten

Jason Narducy fronts the band Split Single and plays bass both in Superchunk and as a member of Bob Mould’s band. (At this very moment, he’s on tour in Japan.) But in the early ’80s, Narducy was a punk kid in Evanston, Illinois, trying to get his rock band out of the garage. He and his middle-school friends formed a band called Verböten; the lead singer was the cousin of Dave Grohl, who now calls out the young band as an influence. They even snagged a gig opening for Naked Raygun in 1982.

Because Narducy apparently dislikes downtime, he’s now written a stage musical about those formative teenage years, called Verböten, a House Theatre Of Chicago production that will open at Chicago’s Chopin Theater in January. Brett Neveu wrote the book, describing the following scenario, according to the press release: “1983. Chicago. It’s do-or-die for Verböten—a band made up of outsider teens with seriously complex home lives. As they gear up for a show at The Cubby Bear that is sure to change their lives forever, can they keep their parents from destroying the fabric of their self-made punk rock family?”

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Narducy wrote several punk songs for the onstage Verböten band, but also some different caliber songs for the characters’ parents to sing. As he describes it, “For the kids songs, I wrote hardcore punk rock; inspired by bands that inspired Verböten (Circle Jerks, Articles of Faith, Hüsker Dü, Naked Raygun, The Ramones). The other characters (mostly parents), sing songs that sound more like their own generation from the ’60s and ’70s.”

The play opens at the Chopin on January 16 and runs through March 8. It’s subtitled “a story about how punk saves lives.” Narducy acknowledges that that sentiment veers toward the corny side. But he stresses, “All kids need something to hold onto, and this is what we had.”

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Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.