“You should post this.”
A single line email with a YouTube link from our friend and PunkTorah contributor Heshy Friend (of the infamous FrumSatire.net) is not something you want to pass up.
The video is called “Get” and the band is The Groggers. A post-emo, indie-punk song about the orthodox community and divorce fills my screen and I’m experiencing a feeling that is part shock and hysterical laughter.
Doug Steiman, the front-man for The Groggers, granted me an interview where we talked about Green Day, frum politics, and one of my favorite subjects, women.
The Groggers was just an idea when Doug started writing. “I got into this mood where I was writing these funny Jewish punk songs…[and] the first song I recorded was Mitzvah Night.” The song about having sex on Shabbat became an “underground hit” which led to another song called “Get”, which became the video that has made a splash on the Jew-Tube, and put Doug in the position of needing to put together a real version of The Groggers.
Songs about sex and dating might seem like controversial topics for a self-proclaimed “orthodox band”, but Doug seems to like that. “We’re pushing the envelope with some of our songs…we stand behind what we say. We’re poking fun at our religion and our own vices [and] I hope that there’s something that people appreciate about our honesty.”
Doug is not a one-act-wonder. Although The Groggers is inspired by Doug’s early love of Green Day, Nirvana and Motion City Soundtrack, Doug has been in numerous bands, including a band he put together just to play a Battle of the Bands, which they ended up winning after only one practice.
Like Jewish pop-punk predecessors Yidcore, The Groggers use humor to convey their musical message. But unlike most gimmick acts, The Groggers are surprisingly “real”. “We’re getting slightly more political because we have opinions on Jewish happenings. It could be looked at as a gimmick, but that’s not our intention.” Doug went on to tell me that they aren’t wearing yarmulkes and tzitzit to “look” Jewish, but instead that “this is how we dress”.
In the non-Orthodox world, it would sound insane that a song about dating whoever you want would be in any way “political”. But for The Groggers, it is the reality of their life. Says Doug, “in many circles it’s not OK to meet someone on your own. I know people that are finding it really difficult to meet someone in that [shidduch] system, but won’t look in another direction.”
The Groggers are looking forward to producing their first album (set for release this August), dates on the Shemspeed Music Festival and G-d willing, booking a college tour. Check out The Groggers on Myspace: www.myspace.com/thegroggersband