Smoking Popes

In a bizarre turn of events, the reunion of Chicago pop-punk superheroes Smoking Popes has been a dream come true for Houstonian Ryan Chavez (best known as the main man behind local indie concert promotion team Super Unison). The Popes broke up back in 1999, in the wake of the near-simultaneous release of their watershed Destination Failure CD and lead singer Josh Caterer's surprise conversion to Christianity, but they're back together and on the road. Chavez, a longtime fan and acquaintance of the band, had already agreed to be road manager for the tour when he took a call from Popes guitarist Eli Caterer, which progressed as follows:

Eli: Hey, uh, remember how we'd talked about, uh, maybe if you were living in Chicago you woulda been the drummer for the Smoking Popes this time around?

Ryan: Yeah, that was pretty funny.

Eli: Well . . . Do you think you might wanna try?

Ryan: Uhhh, are you serious?

Eli: Well, you're goin' on tour with us anyway, and you said that you could play drums.

Ryan: Yeah, but you've never even seen me play . . .

Eli: Well, why don't you send us a video of you playing some Smoking Popes songs?

Ryan: You realize that's the silliest thing that anyone's ever asked me to do.

Eli: Yes, I completely understand.

Ryan: Cool, I'll send you a videotape.

The band liked what they saw, and since then Chavez has been having "Smoking Popes rehearsals in Houston" by himself. At the time of this writing, he was on his way to Chicago to practice with the rest of the band in person for the first time before heading out on the road.

"I guess Josh has gotten to the point where he feels he can make rock music about girls and love, and that won't lead him in a bad direction," says Chavez. "And that is such great news, because I don't think anyone can write a love song like Josh Caterer can."

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Scott Faingold