The origins of street-punk band The Sablowskis actually lie in an attempt to keep it quiet. Dave Wisenauer (Bunjie Jambo) and Zak Sovek (Weekend Warriors) got together a few years back to play some tunes on acoustic guitars — "songs like the Pogues, even older bluegrass tunes," Wisenauer says. Then they added a drummer (Dave Niggemyer, formerly of Tommy Gutless) and ... well ...
"It grew louder, and louder, and louder!" says Wisenauer, with a laugh.
The band — rounded out by guitarist Donovan Greenaway (also of Thunder Vest) — is getting ready to release its second album, Behind a Bloodshot Eye — and it features some very Pittsburgh tracks. There's "Son of a Steeler Fan" and "Walking to St. Pius"; then there's one we can all relate to: "We Want Pierogies!" (It's about a friend's family's dumplings, and contains a rather crude reference to Mrs. T.)
"We wanted to write songs about Pittsburgh that were kind of subtle," says Sovek. "Not just Pittsburgh-pride stuff. Based on the subtleties of Pittsburgh."
"Though," he adds, "a song like ‘Pierogies' came about because our friend Walt makes the best pierogies."
The new album also contains tunes on traditional street-punk themes: drinking, being poor, drinking, more drinking. And there's the occasional literary reference to keep things high-brow; "Annabelle" is a reference to Poe's "Annabel Lee."
While Sovek notes that the initial inspirations for the band ranged from old country music to English Oi bands, The Sablowskis have settled into a loud and fast street-punk sound that's reminiscent of Let's Go-era Rancid, with some of the straight-up rock flavor of Social Distortion.
And no, none of them are really named Sablowski. "Sablowski" is a stand-in for the Pittsburgh everyman.
"The name ‘The Sablowskis' is almost a play on The Ramones," says Sovek. "The Ramones are from New York City; the Sablowskis are the like the Ramones of Pittsburgh."
"We like to refer to ourselves as Pittsburgh's favorite hunky bastards," adds Wisenauer with a chuckle.