It's becoming fewer and further between instances of getting some wild single in the mail out of nowhere from some band you've never heard of before, who don't have ties to some pre-existing scene or aren't made up of dudes from bands you already know. No ties to some guy who has a label or zine or some shit, outsiders in their own city, doing it all on their own time and dime without any help. That's what immediately made me take notice of The Outdoorsmen. The records looked incredibly dumb, which is always a turn on in my book. They seemed to be practically invisible in the well documented Bay Area scene. And the tunes were genuine balls-out garage rock, not rawk, not indie, not weird (in the weirdpunk sense), just legitimate snotty rock'n'roll. The most faithful interpretation of the BFTG/Teen Shutdown model I've seen in some time. True one song per side singles, bitching about girls, raw, slightly inept yet courageously rocking, catchy even. I raved about their debut self-released single, a few people glanced their way, then they foolhardily released another 7" on their own label, and maybe now people are giving them the time of day. Rightfully so. Chad was nice enough to answer a few questions so we can get to know them better. I hope to hear an Outdoorsmen LP someday. Please help me fulfill that dream and go and support them out on the West Coast.
TB: Firstly, who is in the band, what do they do and how old are they?
Chad: I'm Chad on guitar and vocals. I write all the songs. I just turned 32 a few weeks ago and I'm pissed about it. Even more pissed than I was a year ago when I turned 31. The other guys are Mike, who tells people to call him Pretty Tony, on bass and vocals. Roy's on drums and vocals, for another month anyway, then he's gonna stop playing the drums forever I think. They're a year younger than me. You called us "kids" in the record review and I had a laugh about it. But the older I get I get better at acting younger anyway. I think I'm regressing. I felt old when I was like 22, but I'm younger than that now...
TB: Are or were you guys in any other bands?
Chad: All three of us are from the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Roy and I moved up to San Francisco to do a band with one other guy about five years ago. This wasn't Outdoorsmen. That lasted about eight months. The other guy turned out to be a real douche, spoiled rich kid. He left to go suck his thumb somewhere. Meanwhile, we wallowed in misery for a long time after that. We hooked up with a couple clueless dudes we found on the giant talent pool that is Craigslist. Never do that. They were into crappy shit like Stone Temple Pilots and other stupid garbage and they didn't know what I was talkin 'bout when I mentioned The Stooges. It was bad. Mike the Pretty Tony moved up a year or two after us. I didn't know him personally back home, but we knew who one another were. He moved up to do a band that didn't work too, and somehow because we're losers and couldn't find anybody else that's not from Hawaii to play with we ended up deciding to do a band. All of us have played in bands since we were in high school up until the present, but I don't want to name any of them because they're not worth mentioning. Various punk rock, pop punk, garage, pop crap. Not much released material. It's nothing mind-blowingly shitty that's worth digging up dirt on us for. This is the only band anyone is doing now, although I'd like to start something else up in the near future.
TB: I had no idea about Hawaii. Was it tough being a kid into punk growing up in Hawaii? What's the Hawaiian punk scene like?
Chad: Growing up as a kid into punk in Hawaii was, for the most part I imagine, not too much different than anywhere else. The biggest set back was that touring bands and records were harder to come by, especially pre-internet, so you didn't get a lot of pollination, and things felt pretty isolated. That kind of thing could be good and bad as far as musically, but in my opinion most local bands were just tryin to be Hawaii's version of whatever record they had gotten their hands on before many other people knew about it. As far as socially, I'm sure the more crusty lookin' punks at the time might of had it worse, but I was never a really punk lookin' guy, so it wasn't too bad for me. I guess I did get a little bit of shit from jock-types or mokes (basically Hawaii's local version of a redneck) for having dyed hair and lookin' a little geeky as a kid. But it was pretty relaxed for the most part. In general, Hawaii's pretty conservative, so people usually just give marginal looking people strange looks. There was a pretty active scene going on when I first started going out to see bands as a high school kid, mid Nineties. No bands, my own included, that I can really look back on and say stand out to me in anyway. But at the time it was fun and interesting, and that's what counts I guess. I remember for a while a couple local bands could pull a few hundred people to a show. That could have been due to the fact that stuff like Green Day was on TV and radio, so you'd get a bigger mix of people just comin' out because it was the thing to do. After a couple years, the shows got smaller and smaller. Just the same people coming out. A lot of people who stay in Hawaii seem to outgrow punk rock. It's not a very nurturing place for the stuff. They get jaded and boring as they get older. At least that's my opinion, which is why I got out of there and moved here. But then again, people are lame everywhere so I'm probably just living in a fool's paradise. I don't have a clue what's going on in Hawaii now. Hopefully it's better, I'm sure there are always going to be kids doing stuff, but I wouldn't guess that it's gonna be a hotbed of radicoolness anytime soon.
TB: How did The Outdoorsmen come together?
Chad: Outdoorsmen have been going for a little more than two years. We've only been really playing out for about a year or so. None of us knew anyone in San Francisco who was doing music. I'd try to set up shows at shitty bars and would have to Myspace message bands that I liked to ask them if they wanted to play with us. Nobody would ever reply. San Francisco is too cool for school. I then worked myself slowly out of a long drunken depression when my girlfriend threatened to leave me on my 31st birthday if I didn't start rockin' and rollin'. This is seriously true. I finally started to find out what was going on and where. It sucked because I had to force myself to be "social" so I could try to meet like-minded people.
TB:What made you decide to put out your own record?
We put out the first Outdoorsmen 45 ourselves just because we wanted to. Not many people cared about that one, so we put out another one just for fun. The records were gonna come out regardless of people's approval because we just willed them into being. We're still payin off the credit card for those. Now we're gettin a few more shows and people are slowly starting to dig on it. But I'm not trying to impress or convince anyone. The people who like it are the people that it's for. The people who don't like it, I don't care about, it takes up too much energy.
TB: Who came up with the band name and what does it signify?
Chad: I came up with the name Outdoorsmen because it's something I aspire to be, but as it stands now I can barely remember how to tie a fish hook, and can only sort of tell what poison oak looks like. I thought the name sounded sort of tough Sixties punk too. Musically the idea of the band was to do the same old shit every smart person likes. Nothing that's actively trying to be different. I don't worry about that kind of thing. I like Sixties garage, Seventies and early Eighties punk rock. I like snotty stuff with melody.
TB: The sleeves of your singles have been very eye-catching. Who comes up with the concepts and draws them?
Chad: As for the sleeve art, I do all that stuff. We don't really hang out a whole lot outside of band stuff. Everyone's on their own trip so it's impossible to work on any record art ideas or get together to take a picture where we're all in the same place. I just drew the cover one night because I was tired of waiting on people. Then for the second 45 we were talkin 'bout doing silkscreen covers, but that was bullshit because no one lifted a finger in that direction, so I drew the fucking thing again. Now I'm having fun drawing them so I may keep it up. I drew the next record too. Basically, the idea for the 45 sleeves was to do an exagerated interpretation of the band name, inspired by horny high school drawings, Eighties HC black'n'white stuff and BFTG and KBD singles type artwork. A lot of girls don't seem to really dig the cover where the guy's jizzing in the chick's mouth. But what the hell's wrong with a girl who like's jizz? Maybe the guy in the picture doesn't want to jizz in her mouth, but he's doing it only because he loves her and she wants him to! I guess that could be taken as a male sexist fantasy too though...uh, that's a joke.
TB: I love the artwork, it's stupid and fun and so different from anyone else these days. I can see girls not digging the jizz thing. But at least on the other cover someone is jizzing on a cop...why?
Chad: Glad you like the artwork. People have told me that the records didn't really sound like what they thought it would be by looking at the cover. I like that. I think they sort of capture the vibe of the thing though. I like intelligently done juvenile shit, absurdity, and scatological stuff. That's what I was going for. As for the dude jizzing on the cop on the second sleeve, I guess I did that to try to save my ass for the first cover. Equal oppurtunity. Plus I really don't like cops, I think they're total fucking hypocrites and scumbags, and I'm sure most of our audience feels the same way. We got a hardcore anti-cop song on the Milk n' Herpes record!
TB: "San Francisco is too cool for school." I agree (from afar), and I think that's what I thought was really cool about you guys. You didn't seem to be linked to and sound like all the other Bay Area bands, who (even though some of them are good) all tend to be bunched together and sound really similar. So are the "hip" kids coming around to you guys now? I see they asked you to play Budget Rock this year. What happened that they took notice?
Chad: As far as San Francisco goes, Outdoorsmen are still a bit out of the circle of life. I've never been a good networker so it took us a while to even get a show. We had that first record out before we really started playing live. I think I'm a friendly guy, but I really suck at making new friends. It's against my nature, though I think I'm getting better at it. I care more about actually playing the music rather than the social aspect of it all, so sometimes, especially in the beginning, it kinda made me feel awkward, like I had an agenda when talking to new people, because it seemed like the only way to get to play or get people to agree to do a show with us was to go up to them and say hello and try to start a conversation. I hope that doesn't make me sound like too much of a dickhead. I guess any kind of scene by nature is a closed off kinda thing, maybe rightfully so. In order to be able to function and participate in a way that you can feel you're adding something to it, is to have to deal with a bit of the social side of things. It also beats playing really depressing shows with clueless bar bands, though I'm sure we'll still do our share of those.
It does seem like bands here do break off into little groups that only play with each other, maybe due to being buddies, or playing the same sub-genre of music, but that's their own business. I just like rockin' and rollin'. I like all types of rock and roll, and I think this place has got a bunch of cool bands. The thing I like 'bout bands here is, the good ones anyway, tend to have a sort of complete package with the sound and style, so things seem focused when you see em play and it makes for a cool music experience. As far as us not being really connected with anyone I don't mind it. It makes some things a little more difficult, but I've never been someone who got things easily so it's no change. Outdoorsmen have been playing for most of its existence up until this point to a rehearsal room, so every show we've played out so far, good or bad, has been a blast to me.
So far the response to us that I'm aware of has been mostly positive, and it seems like things are taking a step in the right direction. Met a few cool people and there are a few bands that I feel we share some sort of common vibe with. We got asked to do Budget Rock this year, and I'm stoked 'bout that. Especially with The Mummies playin' the thing. We're going up for SMMR BMMR in Portland in August, and I'm tryin to put a little West Coast run together up to that, which is proving difficult with no band name recognition and my virtually non-existant list of connections. My friend Mike is flying down from Ann Arbor to play drums for us on tour. He's the man. Just gotta teach him all the songs in a few days. After that we'll start looking for a new drummer. Hopefully that doesn't take too long. Kind of a hassle, but it's cool, our current line-up situation has been pretty unhealthy for a while, so I'm looking forward to the change.
TB: So, who is Jessica? I think that's my fave Outdoorsmen cut so far. Such a great chorus...
Chad: As for the song "Hey, Jessica", the star of that cut is a co-worker of mine. I work at one of the most digusting places on Earth, a wholesale warehouse store which I'm sure you can guess the name of. There is the ugliest, stupidest concentration of people both shopping and working there. Anyway, she got in my face about some meaningless crap one day and I got her all offended. That night I happened to wanna write a new song, and out came that mean-ass dickhead of a song. It was just a small incident, and I don't give a shit about her, but I immortalized her in a song. I'd hope that it would make her cry if she heard it, but I'm not that mean...I'm sure she'll never read this, she's most definitely into crappy music...
TB: What's up with the next record? Another self-released single or is someone else doing it? Any further records planned or an LP?
Chad: Our next record's gonna be out on Milk n' Herpes. A seven song punk rocker called "Shit Will Happen If You Use Your Stupid Brain". The stuff on that one's shorter and faster than the other two singles. Might throw people off a little bit, but I think it came out cool. After that I don't know. Probably put another single out ourselves, which I have no problem with. I gotta spend money on other stupid shit, so I might as well go broke putting out one of our records. Maybe we'll do a pop or surf record. I don't wanna do an LP until I feel confident enough that we'll be able to move most of them. I still have 45s in my apartment. They don't take up too much room, but a few hundred LPs I don't know about. If someone cool comes along that wants to do them for us then that would work too.