This is no "faux" teenage record, as power pop tends toward, but the real deal. The "band" in Band Jocks turned out to be the high school band, and a particularly athletic one at that. Mike Smith, hailing from Chicago's southwestern Archer Heights neighborhood, attended South Side prep school St. Rita, playing piano in the band and learning guitar on his own. He put together Novice, a go-nowhere garage group that played talent shows and competed in band battles at local high schools. In its Archer Heights koi pond, Novice-Joe Polys on guitar, Dan Koetzle on bass, and Steve Kordelewski on drums-was a reasonably big fish.
As small as Novice was, it spawned a side-project of sorts. Drummer Danny Gumienny, a fellow St. Rita bandmember, had a portable Tascam and ambitions to toy with a real studio. In 1980, Mike and Danny pooled their lunch money and allowances for a few sessions at Timbre Studios at Pulaski and 116th in the inner-ring suburb of Alsip. Mike's name for the one-off duo was Band Jocks, a reference to the fact that the school band played pickup football against St. Rita's Junior Varsity team after they'd finished practice. "At Practice," with its apologetic phone call to a clock-watching girlfriend, hinted that boozing and bandmates were taking up the lion's share of Mike's free time.