May 2017


Them God Damn Bangs
Interview By: Ted Darden

One day in late February I ditched by regular job to catch gig in Lexington, suggested to me by Adam, the front man of the Celtic Punk band, The Slams. The band was described as Punk with a touch of Blues. This tickled my fancy more than any of the other bands he had suggested. Both Blues and Punk were founded by outcasts, both entered my life at the same time as the first genres I would listen to while my high school classmates jammed to the likes of The Killers, and Lil Wayne, and neither of them were often mixed together, successively. So, I dialed up my boss and told him I had more important places to be and headed to our sister city catch Them God Damn Bangs. Them God Damn Bangs were making waves in the local scene. They had a substantial fallowing and from what I understood could really pack the house. They were a bands band, I understood from other musicians I talked to in Louisville. The Slams front man even told me that a few local musicians were forming a super group; the first Star Trek Punk band called the Spokers. I would love to get into the nature of this ground-breaking supergroup but this is, after all, an article about Them God Damn Bangs. I arrived at The Green Lantern Bar with enough time to polish off a couple beers and absorb some scenery. The Green Lantern s Lexington’s Third Street Dive, interesting enough located on Third Street. It was a local setting in the midst of a charming southern neighborhood, down the road from The Blue Stallion brewing company/bar/restaurant. Part of the charm of these bars and restaurants was there location, their proximity to people’s holms gave a small town feel to the place. The Green Lantern had regulars, friendly staff that were more a part of the music family than someone you would buy a beer from. In fact the average consumer couldn’t help but oblige when reading the friendly note scrolled above the restroom, please don’t snort cocaine in the restroom. The customers played pool, drink beer and chatted with friends and strangers while the bands set up in the back room. I felt at home in this bar I had only just walked into half an hour ago.

Members of the band started showing up about eight and after all the introductions were made we began the interview. Now I now I’ve said it a million times and well what’s one more time going to hurt, eh? You will never find a more consistent group of fellas and gals than those of the local Punk scene and for the most part, the Punk cloture as a whole. Ignorant stereotypes made by people who have never seen a show at a venue that sat under ten thousand or housed a band that even fit the genre, about violence, simple guitar chords, and characters that may have escaped from the circus are all a crock. Some of these folks just got off work, some have kids or grand kids, hell, one of the musicians is an accountant, and all of them will except you, where ever you come from. The Punks are the final, authentic group in this land of phonies and conformists. It’s a remarkable thing in this day and age, to walk into a place friendless and walk out with the same feeling of leaving a high school reunion, except that you like these folks.

Punk Globe: As far as what you were doing before them Goddamn Things and how'd you guys meet?

Josh: Well, yeah me and Anthony were the first, uh, the two of us and two other guys that are no longer in the band. I was in a band for three and a half years called One Night Standards and that fell apart and then we just didn't have anything going on for a while. And I kept writing songs and being like 'oh this will be really fucking good for something!' You know? And then it didn't pan out. But two January's ago, two years ago, Anthony had already kind of thought about replacing our old guitar player in the other band, so he and I started talking and we found our drummer on Craigslist or something. Where was it that we met Rob? Do you remember? I don't know, some to catch a predator type website.

Anthony: He was a creep.

Josh: Yeah that guy was a creep. You can put that in the magazine. So yeah, and then so out of this group of people Nails was the next person to join. Because our other bass player, as rad as a person he was, had terrible stage fright and would forget to play for like an entire song at a time. And so Nails had talked a ton of trash on the band and about how she could never be in a band with 90's influenced music. And then she came to me on her hands and knees and said ‘Josh please, please let me be in your cool band. And then we let her in the band.’

Anthony: That's exactly what happened.

Nails: Yeah, yeah. It was.

Josh: Something like that, a little more chill than that. Ryan, how'd you end up in this band? I don't remember.

Ryan: I'd just finished on tour with the Blue Man Group and I decided to find something a little local. Actually, I knew Ms. Nails so I saw that her band needed a drummer for a blues rock band and I thought I like blues rock and so I called her up and said I need to be in your band and tried out and the rest is history.

Josh: Yeah, it was pretty much like, we had two people try out and the second guy was Ryan. We're like, that's the one, you know? That's the one that's gonna stick.

Punk Globe: Dawn, how did you end up in this band?

Dawn: Well, uhm, Nails, again. I've known her since 1999, and she asked me at her bachelorette party if I wanted to sing with a band and I said 'hell yeah!' And we auditioned...

Josh: And you showed up with harmony parts written to songs

Nails: Nailed it!

Josh: No, she blew us out of the water. It was like, we had told everybody, we had three or four people that were interested in being a part of the band and like trying out. And Dawn was actually the last person to audition, but she showed up and was just like 'hey is it cool if like I wrote a couple harmonies for some parts?' We're just like, are you fucking kidding me? Of course that's cool. And she did it and she blew us away. It was like, we were like 'yeah, you're in!' And she was like 'don't you guys need to talk about me behind my back first?' We were like 'no, no, it's fine, you're in.'

Ryan: I think it was after the first song, too.

Josh: It was Bag of Bones.

Ryan: We were like, that's what a professional does.

Nails: And she's just like 'I got four more, I'm ready to go with four more!'

Josh: Yeah, cuz we had one person to show up to audition who was like ... we gave everybody like a specific four songs that was off of our live CD, to be like this is a spectrum of what we do, learn these and we'll know if you're a good fit for the band. And it was like, my now girlfriend was supposed to audition, she showed up, she'd not learned any of the songs, she just kind of hung out with us for awhile. And then another girl and had kind of learned one song. It was like I've got the lyrics, I'll just wing the rest of them, you know? We were like that's not how that fucking works. And then Dawn showed up without looking at the lyrics, I've got them memorized, my kids have them memorized, I've been playing it in the car for weeks. That was like, we knew that she was going to be in this band.

Punk Globe: What genre would you describe yourself as?

Josh: Bluegrass, mostly. No, no. I mean, I don't know man. I mean, the rock and roll genre is so broad, that we just sort of fit somewhere in there. Because we've got a lot of bluesy, very lick heavy blues type songs and we've got some really aggressive, kind of funky songs, and we've got some weird in between. And you know, we hashtag everything blues funk, because I feel like that kind of says it, you know what I mean? From one side to the other, kind of as far as the spectrum goes. But, we're also trying to coin the phrase stud press pump, that's pizza copyrighted stuff there.

Punk Globe: You're one of the only bands I've heard that's mixed blues with funk.

Josh: It wasn't honestly super intentional.

Punk Globe: It sort of happened?

Josh: Yeah, I mean, I don't know man. I've been writing music since I was 13. And it was whatever I was listening to at the time affected that a lot, and over the years, that spectrum of what I listened to has broadened so much, that when I go to write a song sometimes I'll be like, look at this really kind of bluesy, southern rock sort of riff, but then we wind up with really aggressive, angry lyrics and we're like oh that's a weird amalgam.

Nails: I think the common thread that pulls all of our songs together is that they all sound like they could have come from the 90's.

Josh: That's also true, that's also true. Or 70's. That's true though, or 70's for that matter. Because it's like Credence Clearwater Revival and the Hives hung out and made a record.

Punk Globe: Who are influences you have?

Nails: Oh, Credence Clearwater Revival...and the Hives?

Josh: There's the Credence Clearwater Revival, there's the Hives, no, I mean, I don't know. Arctic Monkeys is like my favorite band, a lot of the kind of upbeat nature of what we play, I think mentally, a lot of it comes from that kind of place. Early, early Arctic Monkeys that is, not the swoony, slow jam stuff that they're doing now. But those super aggressive riff offs, and the Hives, just that nature of that. Just that sort of aggressive, almost modern Mick Jagger swinging the microphone kind of shit that they did. A lot of that is where that came from, too.

I don't know. Queens of the Stoneage a little bit, I guess. I feel like Queens of the Stoneage too was kind of a bluesy funk kind of band, you know what I mean? Because they also kind of would follow that blues scale but then they had that sort of dynamic and sort of theatrical sort of nature to their sound. That slips into us a lot. Mostly, the more recent songs though. That's because one of my favorite bands, Molly Rhythm is the most theatrical, amazing band in the world.

Dawn: I'll second that.

Josh: And once we played with them and saw them, my brain started to like, what if we were to have a rock opera? And like our song Dead in the Water is a very obvious reference to that because it's very much structured in that kind of stage presence over you know, like song structure kind of way. But honestly, each one of our songs you could step back and go 'oh that kind of sounds like it could be a Clutch song or a Black Keys song' it's just so much of that. That's why I say we just kind of fit that rock and roll vibe because it's kind of all over the place.But I don't feel like our set goes weird places. Like, despite the fact that the nature of it is a little all over the place, I feel like from our first song to our last song it vibes the right way. It follows it's own suit, but nobody knows what deck of cards they're using.

Punk Globe: You guys are from Lexington, right?

Josh: Yeah. Dawn, you're not from Lexington, are you?

Dawn: No, but our band is from Lexington. I wasn't born here, but I've been here for a very, very long time.

Josh: Yeah, I was born here. Anthony, were you born here?

Anthony: Yeah.

Josh: Thought so.

Punk Globe: What's the music scene like in Lexington?

Josh: Somebody else answer a question. Nails?

Nails: Well, I guess I've been playing in bands in Lexington since late 1999 and there's always been a thriving music scene. Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it gets worse. But it's always there.

Josh: Like the scene is getting so much better than it was just a few years ago.

Nails: Yeah. You pretty consistently couldn’t go more than seven days without some type of a local show somewhere. And it's a very eclectic scene. Which is nice.

Josh: Ryan? Dawn? Anybody else got something to say?

Ryan: I second the eclectic part, for sure. I seriously enjoy it. I'm kind of new into the scene, so I've enjoyed the variety of bands I've gotten to play with and see since I stared.

Nails: Lexington is not afraid to mix it up with a show. They're not afraid to put some hip hop with some metal with some punk, which is great. Something for everybody. Not afraid to put a metal guitar player in a blues funk band.

Punk Globe: Now, do you guys do this as a hobby or do you have any intention of being musicians for a living?

Dawn: I'm an accountant.

Josh: I would lean towards hobby in the sense that we all have a proper job and career set, but at the same time, it's the kind of thing where like, if this took off and got super big and super cool, I don't think any of us would be like, 'nah, I'm out.'

Dawn: I would still be an accountant, I would just be the band accountant.

Nails: I'm a hairdresser, we have plenty of hair.

Josh: Yeah. Exactly, exactly. I think realistically, there are aspirations there, but it's nothing that we're, we're not pushing hard on it in the way that ... you know, we're not putting money into promoting ourselves to try to get a sound out there for other people. We're spreading the word by the music. We talk about trying to tour and taking like little weekend tours and go around to bigger places and stuff, and that will probably happen, but ... Half these people are grown ass adults with kids and shit. So you know you gotta work around that to some extent. Couple more years and we're going to have some awesome roadies.

Punk Globe: So it's pretty much just music for the love of music?

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. I think all of us.

Dawn: Also, we like each other a lot.

Josh: Yeah, that's also true. When we got this particular set up, we were like this is it. Cuz we had gone through two other drummers besides Ryan, and one other bass player and one other female vocalist. And going through all of that, it never quite felt right, honestly. It kept being kind of weird and things kept having issues and then it was like, specifically when Dawn joined the band. It was like everything felt locked into place. It felt like this is the right group of people, we all get a long super well except our fucking drummer - nah, I'm just kidding, I love you to death.

Ryan: I'm the only normal one, that's the problem.

Josh: Exactly, you're the closest to normal, and you're the one with nipple rings, so...

Punk Globe: You guys have a live album; do you have a studio album coming out anytime soon?

Josh: Yeah, it's March 11th at this good ol' Green Lantern in fact.

Nails: Molly Rhythm ...

Josh: Molly Rhythm, the band that I was talking about that's like my favorite band? They're coming down from Trent, New Jersey to play it with us, and then Ryan, our drummer's other band, Penthouse is going to open up. We've never played with them, so that will be fun, too. And we've got Stinky Pete the Clown MCing all night. And that's exciting, because if you don't know who Stinky Pete the Clown is, he's one of the most fun people in the world. He's genuinely just this weird, little, dirty dude who dresses up like a clown and makes balloon animals and tells bad jokes. It's the greatest. I met him here at a show one time, he was just here. He wasn't part of the show, he was just in the crowd like, a goose! People were just like, 'well thank you random clown sir' and then we made friends. He lives in Danville but he drives to Lexington every weekend to come to shows and stuff. And he was like, 'I'll be your guys' MC if you want. I'll come out and introduce the band and that'll be cool.' We were like oh hell yeah! That'll be a fun time. But yeah, this will be our first full length album, it's 12 tracks, fully produced by Harmonics Recording. The album is called Offensive Tendon.

Punk Globe: Is there anything else you guys would like to add?

Josh: We're a band that really likes butt stuff. Except our drummer.

Nails: There's a lot of butt stuff.

Ryan: I like it, just need to try to get my wife to like it.

The show lived up to my expectations. The backroom was packed by the time Them God Damn Bangs took the stage. I set up my camera, which would face a hurdle of obstacles and desperate measures to get the footage, and prepared for the show. I must apologize ahead of time for some desperate maneuvers during filming. Some folks thought it appropriate to stand directly in front of my camera and it wasn’t until later that I was finally forced to chase them out but after the two planned songs were already over with. As eager as I was to hear the band to preform, I had my doubts. I have heard other groups claim to blend Blues and Punk but had yet to hear it done. The average band either was all one or the other or pure chaos in the vain attempt to achieve harmony. This band found that harmony, mostly because they never claimed to have it in the first place. They never claimed to be any genre, really. They were just making music and seeing where the words and notes took them. They weren’t a Blues band trying to be a Punk band or a Punk band trying to Blues Band, in all reality, they were just a fast-paced Rock and Roll band with a strong bass line, soulful guitars and just the right amount of gruff in the vocals. The flour was alive with fans moving to appease that restless and pleasurable feeling that was taking root in their feet. At one point, the band was even on the dance floor shaking and grooving with all us little people. I even found myself dancing around a bit (if just to avoid the neck of the bass guitar). The songs full of clever lyrics, soul, and humor, especially with the ode to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the paranoia and caffeine fueled conspiracy song titled “Pepe Sylvia.” “Between the Water and Me” featured a guitar solo that could have been preformed by Slash, but the radio hit “Bagga Bones” proved to be the musical master piece that could win a Grammy if Grammys were awarded to musical masterpieces. The soulful exchange of vocals in that song is the type of thing that branded the band as a Blues-Punk band in the first place.

All in all, that night in Lexington was well worth the drive. The band was all I was led to believe and then some. I was impressed with who they were as musicians and who they were as people. It was also nice to see the Slams again and hear all the new music they’ve been coming out with lately including a few apropos political songs. And I must say it was an honor and a privilege to meet a former Blue Man. What are the odds, right? Them God Damn Bangs embodied the spirit of Punk in its entirety. Their music was fun poetic and full of soulful beauty. Most of all they were a great live band, musician’s musicians, and as much a part of the crowd as the audience. I don’t know for a fact that you could call them a Blues-Punk band, I don’t know if I could label hem at all. They are undefinable and that’s ok. Not everything or everyone can be put in a box. One of the few things the record executives have gotten right over the years is the fact that Punk is something you can’t understand. So they label anything they don’t understand in the Punk bin and the real Punks don’t care because that’s the philosophy; “to hell with labels, to hell with the record executives, pop culture or anything else people tell us we are or should be, we’re musicians. We’re only in it for music.” That’s Them God Damn Bangs.

Be sure to check out Them God Damn Bangs’ show schedule on their Facebook page. They have two albums on Bandcamp WRFL Live! and Offence Intended. Believe me folks you want a live album from this group. There’s nothing like being there and this is the next best thing. Be sure to actually buy the album, these fellas and gall busted their asses on it. Most of all, be sure to see the band live. There’s nothing like it.