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Smoking Popes


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Smoking Popes is an American punk band from Chicago, Illinois, formed in 1991. They play pop-influenced punk music with crooning vocals and romantic lyrics. The core of the group is composed of brothers Matt Caterer (b. 1968), Josh Caterer (b. 1972) and Eli Caterer (b. 1975).

The Caterer brothers were raised on rock ‘n’ roll and crooners like Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. In 1980 Matt got a guitar, Josh a bass guitar and Eli a drum set and they began to play together. Soon after, their eyes were opened to the world of the Ramones and punk rock. Other early musical influences included Mel Tormé, Tom Waits, The Replacements, The Smiths, early AC/DC, The Cars, and Dinosaur Jr.

In 1990 Matt and Josh, calling themselves Speedstick, got a gig at a party and played approximately 10 original punk-style compositions. About this time, Matt switched to bass and Dave Martens joined as drummer. Josh became an Elvis Costello fan and his style, accordingly, became more pop influenced. Speedstick recorded 10 songs in their first studio session, including “Brand New Hairstyle,” which would become a staple of the Smoking Popes repertoire.

They changed the band’s name, taking “Smoking” from Matt and Josh’s penchant for excessive cigarette smoking and “Popes” from the movie “The Pope of Greenwich Village.” (The band’s original name was simply the “Popes”, but it was decided to add the adjective to distinguish the band from the Chicago gang The Popes.)


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  • Pinchy_Lobster

    I can't get over how much the lead singer sounds like Tina Belcher.

    6 Nov 2014 Reply
  • The-Riot-Before

    Great band. This is Only a Test is my least favorite, but it's still got some quality tunes!

    19 Oct 2012 Reply
  • jessem131

    Yeah, they didn't do any of that when I saw them either. That was last September or October I think.

    30 Jul 2012 Reply
  • mykel_f

    @KY: saw them last summer and heard no religious stage banter. last i knew, it was only josh that was a believer, so it wouldn't be "they", anyway.

    21 Jun 2012 Reply
  • BringtheKY

    Popes used to be amazing, until they started shoving their religion down everybody's throats. I don't mind religious ideas in songs like "I Know You Love Me", but it seems like their stage banter nowadays is nothing but "Have you heard the good news"?

    6 Mar 2012 Reply
  • Toddcraft

    Daytrotter session sounds really good.

    16 Dec 2011 Reply
  • zeravla134

    Seeing these guys tonight in KC. Way excited.

    3 Nov 2011 Reply
  • bertramboso

    Still my favorite pop punk band, after the Buzzcocks.

    17 Sep 2011 Reply
  • zkrake

    I honestly don't get people that tag this as indie, I mean the Instrumental parts are punk, very pop but punk none the less, its just the classic crooners style sung over punk and it makes for lovely combo, it just seems like people are unwilling to believe a punk act can have romantic lyrics and soulful and beautiful vocals, just needed to vent that a little

    29 Aug 2011 Reply
  • no1specialem

    awesome show last week!

    9 Aug 2011 Reply
  • awesomefossum

    Pictures I took of Smoking Popes in Phoenix-

    25 Jul 2011 Reply
  • DamianSmash

    These guys fucking blew Alkaline Trio's sorry ass off the stage in Denver earlier this week. Such a GREAT, GREAT band!!

    13 Jul 2011 Reply
  • camrawrs

    I never really bothered to listen until recently and I decided that this is like Bayside meets The Smiths. Definitely can hear where Bayside got a huge portion of their influences.

    5 Jul 2011 Reply
  • Hellraiser917

    Born To Quit is one of Morrissey's favorite albums ever!

    11 Jun 2011 Reply
  • JRamone266

    Great show in Philly the other day.

    10 May 2011 Reply
  • w0bbEL

    just discovered these guys, new album is pretty catchy and perfectly cheesy. like it

    3 May 2011 Reply
  • Ufoskyman

    Ben Folds similarity, anyone?

    21 Apr 2011 Reply
  • RodeoJones7

    This Is Only a Test is fantastic! The Popes couldn't write a bad song if they tired.

    6 Apr 2011 Reply
  • annyxdiablo

    This Is Only A Test is awesome! does anyone have lyrics?

    12 Mar 2011 Reply
  • rockiecakes

    i heard about them because of bayside <3

    3 Mar 2011 Reply
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