The Rock City archives: 2013

Allister, Rock City Basement

  • Tuesday 28th May 2013
  • Supported by: Heroes For Hire, The Rutherfords, Hometown Hero


Allister was formed in Chicago, Illinois under their original name Phineas Gage by high school (James B. Conant H.S.) classmates John Hamada (vocals/guitar) and Tim Rogner (vocals/drums) with Eric "Skippy" Mueller (bass) in 1996. The following year, they changed their name to Allister, paying homage to Alasdair Gillis from the Canadian TV show You Can't Do That on Television. Upon being submitted a short demo tape, Drive-Thru Records decided to put out their debut release: a 7 inch vinyl record containing four songs, titled You Can't Do that on Vinyl (1998). Before the end of the year, Allister added another guitarist to the band, so Mueller took over guitar duties while Scott Murphy joined on bass.

In 1999, Drive-Thru Records released the band's full-length CD Dead Ends and Girlfriends with that very line-up. The catchy 28-minute album, which was recorded with a production budget of a mere $700, featured playful yet promising pop punk tunes, along with covers of the Fraggle Rock theme song and the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It that Way". Within the following years, Mueller quit Allister, and has been writing an MP3 blog called Can You See The Sunset From the Southside. Hamada eventually quit as well, after tracking some songs for the group's follow-up record. Rogner replaced Mueller on the rhythm guitar, while Rogner's younger brother Chris filled Hamada's shoes on lead guitar and David Rossi joined on drums.

With the aid of producer Chris Fudurich, the band recorded their second full-length album Last Stop Suburbia in 2002, showcasing a certain degree of growth in the songwriting of Rogner and Murphy. The album featured several fan-favorites, such as "Radio Player", "Overrated" and "Somewhere on Fullerton" (an ode to the legendary Chicago punk venue, Fireside Bowl), though the band had to part ways with both Rossi and Chris Rogner, who would concentrate on his own band August Premier. The band added Kyle Lewis (guitar) — formerly of Showoff, Now She's Gone and The Fold — and Mike Leverence (drums); formerly of PARR5, the following year. Last Stop Suburbia reached No. 9 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

In 2004, Allister toured the world (including Europe and Japan) and scored a small guest appearance on the big screen in the film Sleepover, before releasing their third album Before the Blackout(2005) and supporting it by co-headlining the "Before the Blackout, after the Breakup Tour" with Fenix*TX.

In 2006, the group was invited to a two and a half month tour of Japan with Japanese band Ellegarden, with whom they’d become friends while playing together at the SXSW music festival in Austin, TX. The tour consisted of 40 sold out shows all over Japan. At this time, the group released a cover EP titled Guilty Pleasures',' on which Murphy sang half of the songs in Japanese. Before the departure, Rogner learned that he was becoming a father and made the decision to take a job where he was more available to his family. As such, Allister decided to go on hiatus following one final Japanese tour that the band had already committed to in the spring of ‘07. — for which former Allister member Chris Rogner took his brother's place — and a final farewell show in Chicago.

Soon after, Murphy and Lewis went on to start the band The Get Go with friends and former members of bands Home Grown and Mest. The Get Go released 2 records and toured the UK and Japan, but due to conflicting schedules has since ceased activity.

In 2008, Scott Murphy signed as a solo artist to major label Universal Music in Japan, recording his debut solo album entitled Guilty Pleasures II as a continuation of the band’s past work. The album contains a number of Japanese and English songs. On the album’s release date, “Scott Murphy” is the number 1 searched word on Google in Japan. Murphy released another follow-up EP,Guilty Pleasures 3, on December 3, 2008. Guilty Pleasures 3 was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipment of 100,000 copies on September 10, 2009 andGuilty Pleasures II was also certified Gold by RIAJ on December 10, 2009. Throughout the following years, he released several more albums in the “Guilty Pleasures” series, including: “Guilty Pleasures Love”, “Guilty Pleasures 4”, “Guilty Pleasures Animation”, "Guilty Pleasures Christmas" and “Guilty Pleasures Thriller”, a track for track rock cover of Michael Jackson’s worldwide #1 selling album “Thriller”.

In 2010, Murphy began working on a project with alternative rock band Weezer's frontman Rivers Cuomo entitled Scott & Rivers.

The pair met in Los Angeles in 2010, and soon began writing and recording an album of original songs sung in Japanese for the new Scott & Rivers project. They will both share lead vocal duties as well as play guitar in the group, and are planning to release a full length album in early 2013. Scott & Rivers will have their first show at the Countdown Japan Festival in Chiba on 31 December 2012, as the first non-Japanese act to perform at the 10 year old festival.

Allister announced their intention to reunite in the Spring of 2010, and the band broke their hiatus at the Bamboozle Festival in Chicago on 2010 May 15 at the Charter One Pavilion. They recorded and released their 4th full length album Countdown to Nowhere on Universal Music Japan on July 16, 2010.

In 2012, Allister recorded and released their 5th full length album entitled “Life Behind Machines”, and promoted it’s release with a tour of Japan and their first ever tour of China.