"We're about to have our fourteenth anniversary," says Submachine guitarist Jeff Cherub in an interview on the band's new live DVD, "which is way too long for a punk band, but we're too dumb to stop."
Unbelievably, that interview -- which, like most of Off the Rails, was filmed in or around South Side punk bar the Smiling Moose -- took place over a year ago. And while it seems the lads have smartened up -- this Halloween's shows will be, at least for the foreseeable future, their last -- 15 years is no child's play. In fact, it's pretty fucked up, considering the quantities of rotgut swilled by the venerable Pittsburgh quintet over that time. (As I'm sure they'd point out, when you've got this much gut to rot, it takes a while.)
Well-preserved they are, in all the band's bathed-in-red-lights, pig-mask-wearing, tattooed glory, on digital video -- for those of us who remain Submachine fans to the core, but whose walkers and Rascals won't fit into the Moose pisser for that Halloween midnight puke. All the self-deprecating, alcoholic chaos of Submachine is here, in deed and tale. (Best story: 31st Street Pub owner Joel Greenfield explaining the band's first Pub gig, at which Greenfield asked singer Alex Peightel not to dropkick beer glasses, as he was wont to do at the time, to which Alex replied, "We'll do the best we can.")
But so is all the musical menace that's helped Submachine survive to its crystal anniversary: thick riffs and drop-jawed guitar wails, pounding proto-hardcore drums and bass. There's even a heartfelt-and-gobbing respect for Pittsburgh's rich punk history with cover-song nods to precursors Real Enemy and one-time contemporaries Necracedia, which makes sense, because more than any other band, Submachine is Pittsburgh through-and-through: Magnificent in its successes, historic in its failures, stubborn in each.