When I speak to Intruder Blue, vocalist for Madison, Wisc.'s Masked Intruder, he’s out of breath and wearing a blue ski mask. The reason that he’s wearing a ski mask is because all the members of Masked Intruder always wear ski masks in order to keep their identities secret. The reason that he’s out of breath is because he and the band’s guitarist, Intruder Green, have just stolen a pizza.
“A dude was just delivering pizza,” Intruder Blue huffs. “Green and I just ran across the lawn of the place where the pizza was being delivered. Green snapped up the pizza like an alligator, one arm on top and one down below, and we kept running.”
On stage (and off) the band never takes off their ski masks. In fact, when you see them roll up in their (likely stolen) van, they’ve already donned their colorful disguises. So, no one really knows who is in the band and no one really knows if their tales of theft and break-ins are true or not. “We have to stay anonymous due to our ‘alleged’ crimes,” Intruder Blue says.
Reportedly, the two met while incarcerated together and decided to form a band. “The truth about jail is that it’s a lot like high school,” Intruder Blue says. “It’s very clique-ish. You have to make the best of it, so we decided to make a band. It’s hard to meet girls in prison. We did get picked on a little bit. You might get a towel smacked on your butt. There’s a lot of ribbing, a lot of purple nurples. There’s a lot more pillow fights in prison then people think.”
On record, the band roots their music in classic pop-punk structure, at times approaching the Ramones, if they were dipped in cotton candy. Every song is less than three minutes and has three or fewer chords. They have one speed -- fast. Their breakout LP, the self-titled Masked Intruder, deals with two topics -- love and theft.
When they do talk about love, which is a lot of the time, the band writes from the rose-colored glasses of a middle-schooler. Holding hands is written about with the same passion that other artists might detail the horizontal tango. Of course, most of the objects in their songs reject the Masked Intruders in a combination of disgust and horror.
“Heart Shaped Guitar” finds the band pledging their love to a girl while standing on her lawn a 3am (and while playing a literal heart-shaped guitar). It ends with the police being called. “Once girls start talking to you, they find out that you’re not very confident, that you’re nervous and dorky,” Intruder Blue says. “I wear glasses, too. It’s not as easy as you think to meet girls in a band. We want true love, like anybody else.”
But, on the other extreme, “Stick ‘em Up” has the nasty lyrics “I got a knife motherfucker!/Stick ‘Em Up!/ I’ve got a knife, it’s a switchblade/I think it’s time for me to get paid!” How can they reconcile their tales of puppy love with holding people up at knifepoint?
“People like criminals just fine,” Intruder Blue says, in a 1950s Brooklyn accent (think Joe Pesci in Goodfellas) despite the fact that he’s from the mid-west. “Robin Hood, Bonnie and Clyde. People loved them.”
True, but all of those criminals did the crime not for the cash, but for the thrill of the hunt. In their tales of ganking stuff, like on “I fought the law (but the law beat the shit out of me)” they seem to steal for personal gain. “We do crime for both the excitement and the money,” Intruder Blue says. “There is a definite financial incentive. People say that crime doesn’t pay, but that’s stupid. Of course crime pays. That’s why people do it.”
“There are a lot of stereotypes about criminals -- that they’re all tough and what-not.” Intruder Blue continues. “But, that’s not always true. We like taking a bubble bath here and there, or maybe watching Rainbow Brite. We’re not those hard ‘I’ll kill you if you cross me’ sort of criminals. We’re more like, ‘Hey, let’s be friends, and also, give me your money or your life!’”
Masked Intruder is out now via Fat Wreck Chords.