COURTESY CASSIE SHARPE /
The Casualties consider themselves authentic punks. They certainly look the part. The band is made up of Jorge Herrera, left, Rick Lopez, Jake Kolatis and Meggers.
Loud, proud, hard-core punkers unite
If you want to know where veteran New York City punkers the Casualties are coming from, the picture says it all.
With local bands The Enhancements and 2face4
Place: Anna Bannana's, 2440 S. Beretania St.
Time: 9 to 11 p.m. Wednesday
Tickets: $9 presale; $10 at the door. All ages.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or online at 808shows.com
From the top of their extravagant mohawks to the bottom of their jackboots, these guys are purists. You can hear it on their latest album, the month-old "Under Attack." When guitarist Jake Kolatis was told that the album felt like one long 30-minute song divided by 12, he understood that observation, but stood by the loud-and-proud purpose of each tune.
With the help of veteran punk producer Bill Stevenson (the Descendants and Black Flag), "we worked to make this new album a little more diverse-sounding than just another hard-core punk album," Kolatis said by phone from a stopover in Boise, Idaho. The band has just started a "Punx Unite" tour.
With roaring instrumental support from Kolatis, bassist Rick Lopez and drummer Meggers (Mark Eggers), Jorge Herrera lets his hoarse voice loose on such self-explanatory sonic assaults as "Without Warning," "System Failed Us Again," "Social Outcast," "No Solution -- No Control" and "Down and Out."
It was punk rock that drove Kolatis to pick up a guitar in the first place. "I started playing it because of the Ramones. It wasn't because I heard Bon Jovi! That whole three-chord thing was more attractive to me. Punk means you can do it if you want, and you don't have to be some amazing musician.
"We never record albums just to appease the current fad," he said. "We stick to our guns. A strong album will have a longer shelf life. Ten years from now, it should still be relevant."
Solidarity through focused anger is one way to express the punk ethos, and the Casualties' choice of clothing is definitely another.
"Our look is our way of life. It's not just stage clothes," Kolatis said. "It's very important to us to dress this way every day. This is not a stage look just to rock out in. Our motto is 'Live it and love it.' Punk rock is what we play, but it's also our lifestyle."
To gain exposure, the Casualties have done the popular Warped Tour summer festival circuit for three years, more out of duty than choice. "It's definitely a little different, what with the big commercial aspect of it all. It's a little odd seeing all these sponsored tents while you're on stage, but it helps keep ticket prices down.
The advantage of doing the tour is that "you get to be in front of so many new kids who are not into listening to either nü-metal or pop punk. We basically get to tell them, 'Hey, this is what we're doing,' and turn the kids on to our sound."
The and operates as a democracy, with all of the guys participating in the writing of the songs. "We write songs about what we want to say, not to get on the radio," Kolatis said. While most of "Under Attack" is fueled by anger at the U.S. political system, he points out that their songs are based "a lot more on personal experience. We're not trying to be a political band, but we do sing about what goes on around us here and overseas. We're not saying you have to agree with us. It's more about offering opinions, saying, 'This is how we feel about this.' And if you agree with us, that's cool."
The Casualties' current "Punx Unite" tour is being done the tried-and-true punk way, totally do-it-yourself (with a little help from some like-minded friends).
"We keep it street-level," Kolatis said. And with a venture into Honolulu for the first time next week, he said "it's refreshing to play new places, and not the same town, same venue."