Friday, December 10, 2004

Paul Miner (since replaced by Tyler Rebbe), Tim Owens, Efrem Schulz, Dan Palmer and Todd Hennig make up Death by Stereo.

Punks flock
to the rock

This year's Punk on a Rock fest continues to be one of the best annual band showcases of the popular, up-and-comers and unknowns.

Perennial SoCal goofballs Guttermouth come back for one of their seemingly annual visits to the islands, and the debut of Seattle's New Wave-influenced The Briefs should impress local fans tomorrow at Pipeline Cafe.

Punk on a Rock

5th annual festival featuring Guttermouth, Mad Caddies, Death By Stereo, The Briefs, ASG and Drowning Adam

Where: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.

When: 4 p.m. tomorrow

Tickets: $18, available at the club, Cheapo Music in Puck's Alley, Jelly's in Aiea and Hawaii Natural High in Waikiki

Info: punkonarock.com

Two other bands making their Honolulu debuts as well are Mad Caddies and the ominous-sounding Death By Stereo. (North Carolina punk-metal trio ASG and the return of Sacramento's Drowning Adam round out the lineup.)

DBS drummer Todd Hennig, speaking by phone from his Los Angeles home, was not only enthusiastic about the band's first-time visit here, but the album they're working on.

"We're right in the middle of recording the new one," he said. "I just finished doing the drum tracks last week, and then we'll start mixing it when we get back. We did pre-production with Matt Hyde, who did the last Slayer album, and the producer on this one is one of these young and up-and-comers, Fred Archenval, who worked with the Deftones.

"We're branching out our sound, going down new avenues. It's a step in the right direction -- each song seems to have changed at least eight times during the recording process -- and it's a time to explore. We even have new management. So Hawaii is like icing on the cake.

"This is the longest time we've spent in the studio, which is really strange, since we all love touring. But since we felt the last two records we've done were kind of rushed, we made a conscious decision to stay home. It's been a long process, but so far, it's been rewarding."

With former bass player Paul Miner stepping aside to pursue his producing career, the band has recruited their friend Tyler Rebbe, now with Pulley, to take his place. But since Rebbe's still finishing up his stint with Pulley, Hennig says a temp will be taking care of bass duties on stage at tomorrow night's gig.

Around since 1998, Death By Stereo has distinguished themselves with their hardcore punk with metal influenced sound, fronted by amazing vocalist Efren Schulz. Their last album, "Into the Valley of Death," contained their most popular song to date, "Wasted Words."

"The intensity level of our music is pretty high," said Hennig, "but the band's strong point is definitely our live show. No matter how sick or upset we may feel while on the road, once we're on stage, everything goes out the window, and we go into this place where we give 110 percent until the end of show. "

Hennig said that "our style of music is somewhat unique, definitely more metal. And it'll be more of the same on this new album -- maybe a little less of hardcore, but more metal heavy with catchy hooks." He acknowledges the influence of Iron Maiden, Slayer, Faith No More and Bad Religion on their sound, and with Schulz's wordy lyrics, "the main message is question everything and think for yourself."

IT'S NOT OFTEN that you hear a horn section dominate a punk band's sound, but that's the case with the Mad Caddies.

The work of trumpeter Keith Douglas and trombonist Ed Hernandez are absolutely essential to the MadCad's music.

"I like to think we're doing something different," said Douglas by phone from his Santa Barbara home. "Not many bands play horn-fueled punk rock. There are a lot of horn-driven ska bands, but I think we bring an edge to our sound, with distorted guitars and jazz horns.

According to Douglas, guitarist Sascha Lazor, singer Chuck Robertson and bassist Mark Iversen have known each other since high school, and started playing together in '94. They got together to form what was then called Ivy League, which Douglas described as originally having "had a ska with punk edge sound."

Douglas and Hernandez first met at a community college in Goleta, a suburb of Santa Barbara, where they played in various jazz bands, and would later join what would become the Mad Caddies in late '96.

The Caddies already have five full length albums and one EP under their collective belt, including their latest "Live in Toronto: Songs in the Key of Eh."

"This band allowed me, in a looser setting, to develop my own style," said Douglas. "I kind of discovered my own sound, so I approach music the way how I wanted. For the most part, I'm the band's horn arranger, working on harmonies and background stuff. I like the lifestyle and freedom in a more punk rock sort of band, where there's no etiquette or proper way of doing things."

Because of that, the songs heard on the live album each have arrangements that careen back-and-forth between tough-guy punk and horn parts that would sound in place with '20s hokum jazz bands, bright-sounding circus and swing bands or oompah polka combos.

So it's no surprise that Douglas admits that "there's a lot of Louis Armstrong in my sound. I look up to him, for sure. There's some Latin stuff, too -- Arturo Sandoval, over time, has been the most influential on my playing. ... When we toured with the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, their horn section was a big influence on me as well."

The Caddies just got back from doing six weeks in Europe, but nobody in the band's minding doing a one-off in Hawaii.

And while all of six bands at Punk on a Rock will be doing abbreviated sets to fit within the six-hour show, Douglas promises that the band will play such rousing numbers as "Monkeys," "The Gentleman" and "Macho Nachos."

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