Tosa musician says second go-round adds perspective

John Sieger
John Sieger is a founding member of Semi-Twang, which reunited after 25 years and played recently at Chili’n on the Avenue.
Published on: 8/3/2011

You carry more than your equipment when you get the band back together after 25 years.

But, John Sieger has found, the baggage that accompanies a record deal gone wrong gets lighter with time.

"The expectation killed us the first time," said Sieger, a guitarist and founding member of Semi-Twang, a country-inspired band, minus the steel guitars and fiddles, with a dash of soul.

"It took me a while to reconnect with the joy of making music," said Sieger, who teaches guitar, does song-writing clinics and works part-time at Cream City Music.

"We were prepared for things to go well, and they didn't," he explained. "But it was an important lesson. It hooked me up to my own love of music. And no one can pry that away from me. And that's the important thing. Otherwise, hang it up."

For a while, Semi-Twang did just that.

The six-man group, which reformed last year and recorded a new album, didn't break up so much as slowly fell apart.

Sieger never expected it to go that way, especially after the band signed a deal with Warner Bros. records and, in 1988, recorded their album "Salty Tears."

The record cost nearly $250,000 to produce and included, on at least one song, a player from Elvis' band. The band even made a music video.

"It rang a bell with somebody," Sieger said. "We toured a little bit, but we didn't set sales records."

It was painful when the dream died. But, Sieger said, "It was a great experience on a lot of levels. It just didn't last."

After 25 years apart, Semi-Twang reformed for one show.

"Things went so well we thought, 'Why aren't we together again?' " Sieger said.

Since then, the band has played throughout the metro Milwaukee area, including at Bastille Days in Milwaukee and Chili'n on the Avenue in Wauwatosa. The group has recorded a new album, Wages of Sin, which is available on their website.

This time around, Sieger said, "we have ambition. My ambition is just to really enjoy it as much as I can and grow it a little bit."

There's talk of some radio play, maybe a tour.

"I don't know how much of that we'll accomplish," he said.

But, wherever the road leads, Sieger said he'd hold onto the music and the lessons learned.

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NAME: John Sieger

NOTED FOR: founding member of country-inspired band Semi-Twang