Photo by Jack GouldA year ago, ska-pop heroes Jeffries Fan Club broke up because lead singer and guitarist Mike Dziurgot wanted out. He wanted to be a full-time student and a full-time Christian. Not that he wasn't a Christian before--he just felt that, given the likelihood of the impending apocalypse, it might be a good time to get his shit together, faith-wise.
Near the end of a December 2000 interview, he suggested that, should I find myself interested in eschatology--End Times prophecy--I should keep my eye on the stuff going down in the Middle East. When the stuff went down, I thought of him--and called.
"September 11 affected me as a human being," he said, nearly a year to the day after our last interview. "I mean, obviously I'm a Christian, and I believe in End Times, but it affected me as a human. It broke my heart. I know that's not the answer you're looking for."
It's not as if I'm looking for a particular answer, though I wouldn't be averse to hearing something a little more, well, out there.
"I prayed a lot for those people," he said. "I prayed for peace, for the normal stuff. I'm sure at the end of the day, it would fit into that, into my being a Christian, but I haven't spent much time trying to correlate the two."
Between working 30- to 40-hour weeks and attending Fullerton College, where he's studying journalism full time (his dream is to move to New York and work for a magazine), Dziurgot says he hasn't had much time for reflection. But he's increasingly happy with his decision to leave the band.
"It just feels really good to have tangible goals and to be able to accomplish them and not be at the mercy of the odds of the music industry, where everything's stacked against you, as opposed to school, where if you study, you can get A's. The music business is really--" Dziurgot trailed off, fishing for the right word.
"Yeah," he said.
And yet Jeffries Fan Club was quite successful. Dziurgot knows this.
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"If someone had told me at the beginning all the stuff we were going to do, I would have thought they were crazy," he said. "And if they told me all the stuff we were going to have to do, I wouldn't have done it. . . . All the showcasing, the business that goes along with it, people investing money in you, the pressure."
A couple of weeks ago, Dziurgot and his girlfriend were at a Denny's in Pomona when a kid came up and asked Dziurgot for his autograph.
"It was weird; it totally tripped me out. I'm in a such a different world now it was like culture shock. I didn't understand why he would want my autograph. Well, when I was in the band, I could never understand it, but now I understand it even less."
And yet it's clear Dziurgot's proud of Jeffries Fan Club. Though he's happier now, he doesn't regret his years in the band. "I got to learn a lot about the world, and I got to have experiences that very few people have had," he said. "It was a priceless thing."