Local Music Lovin' on Clifton Boulevard

14613 Clifton isn’t your typical punk house full of college-aged kids putting on shows. Nope, it’s a much nicer version, one parents wouldn’t mind sending their kids to. Since April of 2007, four boys have lived there, three of which are members of the locally based bands The Sidekicks and Asinine.

Matt Climer, Kenny Dix, Scott Waslik and Kevin Auger are the young men who occupy the Soggy Dog house. Yes, the Soggy Dog house. The name derives from Augers, whose bad moods earned him the nickname Soggy, and the phrase just grew from there. In fact, inside of the house the entire left wall of the living room area is devoted to poster boards full of stickers. Each boy’s name is written on the chart and whichever person is in the worst mood that day gets a sticker; the person with the most stickers wins “Soggiest Dog” at the end of the month. But just because these boys play a game based on their bad moods, doesn’t mean they are stereotypically angry, loud, “I-don’t-care-about-anything” punks. Actually, these boys are just the opposite: as friendly as can be, and so respectful your grandma would love them. In fact, their neighbors even approve, and those neighbors happen to be an elderly couple, their landlord, and a preacher with a wife and child.

All of the boys hail from the greater Cleveland area, and are currently or planning on attending local colleges. The Sidekicks and Asinine originally met at the Phantasy in Lakewood, and upon becoming better friends decided that this would be the ideal place to live. The boys warned the neighbors upon moving in that they were planning on playing music, and have been upstanding boys-next-door ever since. The Soggy Dog house is so respectful that the shows have a start time of 6 pm and an end time of 9 pm. “Well…an absolute, must be over time of 10pm,” laughs Matt Climer, an occupant of the house and the drummer for The Sidekicks. “We set the ground rules ourselves- early shows, and no drinking, either. We definitely don’t want a bunch of people to be doing anything that could get us or them in trouble.”

Climer acknowledges the fact that another reason there is a no drinking rule at the house is because of the growing amount of high school kids hanging around the Soggy Dog- more and more, new faces are showing up. Climer thinks that new faces are always good things, though. Sure, the regulars will always be around, the kids that have been going to shows since they could convince a parent to drive them to one; but now a new generation of fifteen-year-old local band groupies has emerged. The Soggy Dog house isn’t only a place for the kids who can only get as far as there bike will take them, either. It might go down in Cleveland punk scene history. Recently a documentary being shot as the final project of a Cleveland State University film student focused on the Cleveland local punk music scene shot a show at the house, with The Sidekicks and Asinine playing.

Upkeep of the Soggy Dog house doesn’t require much, just the mutual understanding between the boys of the house and those who come to the shows that it’s better for everyone if there isn’t trash everywhere. There are buckets outside for cigarettes and such, and Climer always picks up remaining lawn litter in the morning. As for who mows the lawn, the boys get lucky- their landlord usually does! “This house is treated as something almost sacred,” Climer admits. There aren’t many other places where the parents will check inside to see what their kids will be up to for the night, and get an enthusiastic and reassuring response.

Kevin Zieber, drummer for No Target Audience, a band that has played several times at the house thinks it is “nicer to play there, because it is free. So you feel like the people that you are playing for really care about you as a band, and as a friend even. This is a good place to play if you want to be treated like a person, not just money.”

That’s what the Soggy Dog house is really all about in the end. Music.

“Punk houses are usually thought of as just big party places, dirty. But we focus on the music and the people,” admonishes Climer. In fact, when parents do come to check it out before they leave their kids in the basement for a couple hours of folk-punk sing-a-longs, they seem relieved to find it’s not just a bunch of cliché college kid; but rather some good people, just trying to have fun without causing problems or emptying the oh-so-limited wallets of local teens. The four boys plan to stay in the house… “Well, until we get sick of each other,” Climer says through a smile.

Read More on Features
Volume 4, Issue 15, Posted 10:23 PM, 07.02.2008