This year marks the 25-year anniversary of Semisonic’s Platinum record Feeling Strangely Fine and, as chance would have it, the band is on its first tour in 20 years as part of the “Last Summer On Earth” tour with Barenaked Ladies. Semisonic also just released a pair of new songs, “Little Bit of Sun” and “Grow Your Own,” their first release since 2020’s You’re Not Alone EP. Ahead of the band’s June 7 tour stop at Milwaukee’s BMO Pavillion, we caught up with Semisonic singer-guitarist Dan Wilson to talk about the tour, strange and memorable experiences from his past visits to Milwaukee, and why “Closing Time” is still a fun song to play after all these years.

Milwaukee Record: You are in the midst of the Last Summer On Earth tour with the Barenaked Ladies. Semisonic played a number of one-off shows and charity gigs over the past 20 years, but this is the first true tour in 20 years. So, a few shows in, how’s it going so far?

Dan Wilson: I mean, it’s super great to get in front of people and play. And the first show, I would say I was pretty stiff and awkward, but it was fun. And then I think my stiffness and awkwardness may be going on a downward trend, and the fun is remaining, and the band is sounding better and better.

MR: Now this isn’t your first time on the road with the Barenaked Ladies. What’s it like touring with them?

DW: We all sort of exuded kind of a dad energy back in the day. And then we all became dads and it became more appropriate. But even before we were dads, we had a little bit of a dad band kind of energy, so it’s sort of a good match.

MR: On the current tour, is there a song that is your favorite to perform live every night?

DW: Is it wrong for me to say “Closing Time”?

MR: No!

DW: “Closing Time” is a super fun song to play live and the people are always so great.

MR: So, the tour stops in Milwaukee this Wednesday. You actually played a show in 2019 at Summerfest, so it hasn’t been too long for us. Do you have any favorite memories of coming to Milwaukee?

DW: Well, we had a few misadventures in in Milwaukee, including a run-in with Milwaukee’s finest law enforcement, which later turned out to be impostors who weren’t police officers, which is even weirder. But mostly just good vibes.

One of the shows we did with Trip Shakespeare, we had a meeting strangely enough with John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. He flew into Milwaukee to see the band and then pitched us on coming to England and recording in his castle. And being a bunch of DIY, punk rock-loving idiots, we said “No, no, we didn’t want to come to any castles and record with John Paul Jones.” But we had the funnest night that night hanging out with him. Of course he’s the most charming person ever.

Years later, I ran into John Paul Jones again, and I said, “I’ve always wanted to see you again, because I’ve always wanted to tell you my band Trip Shakespeare made a big mistake by not recording with you in your studio in England.” And he said, he didn’t miss a beat, he said, “I should say you did.”

MR: So, good vibes [in Milwaukee] overall, except for the time where you had imposter police arrest you, or what happened?

DW: Yeah, I can’t even exactly remember. I just know they burst into the band’s dressing room and started yelling about how we had like illegal drugs, and they were going to search us, and then they showed us these police badges. We’re like “These guys look like such knuckleheads, are they really cops?”

And I do remember that everyone was astonished because I’m the meekest and mildest person, and I faced them down and said, “You can’t come in and do this. You have no warrants. I don’t know who you guys are, but go back and do this the right way. Please get out of here.”

Eventually they left. I wasn’t even being a tough guy. I was just like, you know, “this is not the way this works, buddy.”

And so, then they were gone. Then we found out later that they were just like fake cops that were terrorizing people around the club. So it was super weird.

MR: Maybe you can file a police report while you’re in town.

DW: “I have a complaint I need to register.” Yeah, exactly.

Credit: Yazz Alali

MR: Anything else you want to share ahead of Wednesday’s show?

DW: When the guys and I left the rehearsal space in Minneapolis for the last rehearsal for the tour, we stopped in the doorway and I said, “You guys, do you realize how unlikely this is? Like just statistically speaking, nobody gets to do this. And no one gets to do it on the first try to go out on tour and play songs for people. Almost nobody gets to that point, it’s just such a lucky break. And nobody, nobody, nobody gets to do it 20 years later because they felt like starting it up again and seeing what it would be like. That just does not happen.”

So just basically, I’m full of a sense of good fortune and amazement that we’re even doing this.

Last Summer On Earth tour comes to Milwaukee this Wednesday at the BMO Pavilion. You can listen to a longer version of this interview on the “Host And Guest” podcast.

About The Author

Avatar photo

Rick Katschke is the editor of VERDICT UNKNOWN, a nine-minute compilation of teasers for The People’s Court. He once made David Letterman laugh.