To pirate the title of one of their early songs (and still a set-list staple), Against Me! is a band that laughs at danger and breaks all the rules.
Fronted by Laura Jane Grace, AM!'s much-anticipated latest offering, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, is scheduled for release in January 2014. The title of their sixth album offers a direct nod to news that shocked fans and shook up the rock world when it was dropped—Grace is a transitioning transgender person.
Because Transgender Dysphoria Blues marks the band's first release with Grace as a woman, there are a lot of misconceptions: The record is neither a radical stylistic departure nor a "concept album." Rather, it's just another bold step forward for an artist doing what she has always done—forging her own path by processing the highs and lows of life through music.
Against Me! began as an anarchist solo act in Gainesville, Florida in 1997. After transforming into a traditional four-piece a few years later with the crucial addition of guitarist James Bowman, they quickly became a driving force in the punk scene—despite facing an abundance of unsolicited danger.
While emerging unscathed from two separate road tour spinouts and, more recently, enduring a flying mic stand which cost Grace her front teeth, Against Me! have played in all 50 states and 29 countries, cranking out an average of 200 sweat-drenched, fist-pumping, shout-a-long live gigs per year over the past decade. Their music runs the gamut from thrashing to anthemic to intimate, with Grace's pointed lyrics and powerhouse voice blending vitriol and vulnerability like few other performers.
Dillinger Four is an influential American punk band based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Formed in 1994, the band has released studio albums through Hopeless Records and Fat Wreck Chords. The band also compiled material for release on No Idea Records.
Current members are Lane "Monkey Hustle" Pederson (drums), Billy Morrisette (guitar, vocals), Erik Funk (guitar, vocals), Patrick "Paddy" Costello (bass, vocals.) Funk co-owns the Triple Rock Social Club, a popular bar and music venue in Minneapolis. Erik allegedly had a shrine to Gene Simmons in his room when he was growing up.
Scared of Chaka
Albuquerque garage punk-pop trio Scared of Chaka was formed in 1993 by guitarist/vocalist Dave Yanul Hernandez, bassist Dameon Waggoner, and drummer Ron Skrasek. Their hyper-fast, humorous, Dickies-influenced style debuted on 1995's Hutch Brown Sayngwich, recorded for the 702 label; the slower Scared of Chaka followed in 1996, and a jump to eMpTy Records produced another album, the fan-favorite Masonic Youth, just a few months later. How to Lose was issued in 1998, and followed a year later by Tired of You, recorded for Sub City. Crossing with Switchblades appeared in summer 2001 on Hopeless, after which the band called it quits. Hernandez went on to form Broadcast Oblivion in 2002 before joining up on bass with his old indie pop friends the Shins (of which he and Skrasek were part of an early incarnation of the band).
Toys That Kill
Todd Congelliere gave birth to F.Y.P (Five Year Plan) in 1989, out of Torrance, California. After slangin' 4-track demo cassettes of himself playing a shitty guitar and a Toys "R" Us drum machine, he then wanted to put out a vinyl record, and that's what he did — releasing the Extra Credit 7-Inch EP (Recess #1) in 1990, on his on the fly, make-believe (at first) label, Recess Records. Since F.Y.P's inception, Todd has led the way with his own, snotty, sophomoric brand of sloppy spazz-punk. He wasn't shy about unleashing it on the masses, neither — especially his skateboarding peers (he was a professional vert-skater at the time). Todd started out just singing in the band, and eventually learned how to wing it on guitar and do both. After various lineup changes throughout F.Y.P's 10-year existence, ever-changing musical styles and directions, and relocating to the neighboring South Bay town of San Pedro (towards the end) — quite possibly, Todd's five year plan went a little longer than anticipated. I guess Todd succeeded in getting all his adolescent anguish off his chest, shortly before pulling the plug on F.Y.P, while at the same time, transitioning his new band conception: TOYS THAT KILL — also the title of the final F.Y.P (Toys That Kill) record (Recess #67), released in 2000, on Todd's now "established," Recess Records label. Todd decided to up the ante with a clean slate and a zealous new lineup. Along for the ride, was longtime F.Y.P bandmate, Sean Cole — switching to guitar (plus helping with the singing) for this new endeavor, along with additional key members coming aboard, like: Chachi Ferrara (on bass) and Denis Fleps (on drums). Denis played on the first Toys That Kill record, The Citizen Abortion, released in 2001, and left the band shortly after their first couple of tours. Their sophomore record, Control the Sun, brought forth powerhouse drummer, Jimmy Felix, which solidified the current lineup from here on out. Toys That Kill have five LPs (The Citizen Abortion - 2001, Control the Sun - 2003, Shanked - 2006, Fambly 42 - 2012, Sentimental Ward - 2016) under their belt, a handful of 7-inches and numerous compilation appearances, etc., etc. Since the beginning, Toys That Kill have pushed the envelope at their own pace and on their own terms. Almost all of Toys That Kill's records have been released on Recess Records and they fairly recently started doing their own recordings (last two records) at Todd's homemade studio, Clown Sound. They have toured Europe a few times, Japan twice and continue to take their party to the rest of the country on a regular basis. After 15 active years, Toys That Kill continue to do their thing, while inspiring others in their town and abroad, making them without a doubt, the "anchor" of the San Pedro punk community (like the Minutemen were before them). SIDE NOTE: Todd, Jimmy, Chachi and Sean (along with Jack Doyle, Trevor Roundsville and John Predny) also play in the band, the Underground Railroad to Candyland. With each new Toys That Kill release, their output keeps getting better and stronger, giving their fans something to look forward to with each release, which is rare in this day and age. Well guess what, folks? The new Toys That Kill record, Sentimental Ward is finally here! With much anticipation and mucho touring to follow. Sentimental Ward is also Recess Records' 200th release, to boot! A fitting release for this rare milestone, for any label in existence, I have to say. Not too shabby for this humble veteran Pedro outfit. Get all Sentimental why don't you ...
Off With Their Heads (Acoustic)
Rising punk rock band Off With Their Heads have released Home, their sophomore Epitaph Records’ release. Produced by Bill Stevenson of Decendents fame at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, CO, Home retains all the boisterous spirit of the band's earlier efforts while sonically taking a monumental step forward. The new album embraces authentic punk rock at its core and combines melodic fast paced aggression with mid-tempo pop, while singer Ryan Young’s rough and edgy vocals and genuine lyrics create a sincerity that can only come from a hard working band that lives and breathes it every day.
“Home is about the struggles of constantly being on the move, trying to maintain relationships while being away, and not feeling like there is really anywhere to go home to anymore,” says Young. It’s about the reasons why people leave their hometowns and never go back.”
From the first track, “Star Walking", an explosive opener about things getting worse while waiting for things to get better, to the album’s first single “Nightlife” about worry-filled, sleepless nights that keep you awake, Young describes the new album as “being about how hard it is to accept change for some of us.” This is evident in the sobering track “Stolen Away” that takes a hard look at fleeting relationships while “Seek Advice Elsewhere” touches upon the importance of reflection. Young continues to say, “It’s about getting older, and not being ok with it. It is about how religion can destroy a family. Finally, it is a dedication to anyone who can relate.”
Off With Their Heads have begun to carve out their own foundation in punk rock history with their very own take on rowdy, self-deprecating, beer-drinking, working class punk rock. When it comes to touring virtually year round, it isn’t a choice as much as it’s a lifestyle for Off With Their Heads. In March, the band will once again head out on another tour in anticipation of one of the year’s most engaging punk rock records.
Tim Barry has been kicking around the musical underground for nearly 20 years, first as the front man for legendary Virginian punk heroes Avail, and more recently as a singer-songwriter with a penchant for constructing beautiful folk and country tunes. Dude's been particularly busy the past few years, gigging relentlessly, including yearly participation in The Revival Tour with fellow travelers Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Ben Nichols (Lucero), and Tom Gabel (Against Me!), and generating a steady stream of recordings. Late last year, he released a split 7" EP with pal Frank Turner (co-released by Epitaph and Suburban Home), while 2010 will see the arrival of "28th & Stonewall", Barry's third full length recording, a masterful collection of heartsick dirges, wry commentary, and upbeat stomp-alongs. Suburban Home Records.
Pink Mink was what happened when everyone was making other plans. Christy Hunt had returned from 2 years of touring as the guitarist for the Von Bondies and posted a defeatist post about quitting music and going back to school. Longtime friend Arzu Gokcen saw this post and threatened to lock her in a closet with her guitar until she changed her mind. The two, at similar crossroads in their musical paths, decided to give playing together a shot. And it worked beautifully. While jamming in Christy’s basement, they added seasoned engineer and producer Jacques Wait along with drumming ace Charles Gehr and soon the foursome found themselves forming a band – and February 2010, Pink Mink was born. Having the history of all taking part in previously successful outfits (Von Bondies, Selby Tigers, Ouija Radio, etc.) it took no time at all for word to spread about this new formation, and Pink Mink found themselves playing festivals and big shows after barely writing songs for six months.
Even with all the attention, they were humbled and surprised to have landed the coveted “Picked To Click” honor in City Pages magazine just a short 8 months after playing their first chords together. All this, and their debut album was nowhere near being finished yet. Finally, after a little over a year of being together, Pink Mink regionally-released their self-titled debut in July 2011. The celebration culminated as the band held their release party on a riverboat on the rivers of the great Mississippi. Being known for throwing a grand party, the “cocktail cruise” did not disappoint. Beyond the party reviews, the critics and fans had much praise for the debut album. A trip to SXSW and several Midwest shows and festivals later, Pink Mink is now taking the album out nationally and will hit radio in February 2012. Quickly thereafter a 7″ vinyl will be coming out on Kiss Of Death Records and the band will hit the road in support of both releases. Call your radio stations and record stores to request Pink Mink. Check back for information on Pink Mink coming to your town.
Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band
I grew up near Milwaukee Wis., and started a band. I moved to Milwaukee, the band changed into the Modern Machines and that became my life until the drummer quit at the end of 2006. Then, I moved to Brooklyn and did the Radio Faces, followed by the Used Kids, both of whom put out one full length album and some assorted other records.
Now, I'm back in the Midwest. Me and the Blue Diamond Band are ready to rock some socks. Stay free!
United Teachers of Music
This band is built on a sturdy foundation of intoxication and sobriety, beer and fizzy water. Born in fish guts on the mighty Red River, the United Teachers of Music features members of 20 Dollar Love, Witchden, New Labor/Amish Armada, Skullcranes and the Drug Budget. To watch them live is something pretty special, ladies.