Album Review: Koffin Kats – Our Way & The Highway

Last week Detroit’s rockabilly act the Koffin Kats dropped an impressive release titled Our Way & The Highway.  Recently signing to Sailor’s Grave Records, a primarily Oi! / Punk label, the band continues to make great outlaw punk rockabilly music that strays away from the doom and gloom and focuses more on fast times and taking chances.  People usually consider the Kats to be “Horror-Punk” but their 6th release is straight up, fun and addictive psychobilly  punk rock.

Having toured the globe continually for the last 8 years, this band has earned their solid fan base the old fashioned way.  If you have not seen them live before, you can expect non-stop fun through their sets.  In fact, the band prides themselves on not-stop touring and making each night a party.  Bringing this kind of attitude to the venues on a regular basis ensures nothing but good times – trust me, I have seen them live before, it was great.

“Riding High” starts off the album full-forced with a sound very similar to something off The Damned’s Grave Disorder (I adore that album btw…).   Vic Victor has a voice that easily could rest along the lines of Elvis and even Chris Isaak and is showcased immediately as heard in the opening track.  “The Way Of The Road” rubbed off as a rock track for a moment and soon morphed into  schizophrenic variations of punk rock and rockabilly.  The song really kept my attention with thanks to the ridiculous bass playing.  Very cool song to check out if you have never heard the Koffin Kats before.

“Severing Ties” was straightforward and exactly what I expected to hear from the Kats.  “For The Good Times” talking about mass consumption and good times even has some drink ware used as instruments for a solo.  This song is by far my favorite track on the album.

I could not help but compare “The Devil Asked” to a Butthole Surfers song.  It was very off key from the rest of the tracks on the album, yet fun to rock out to. “Locket Of Sin” sounded way more personal and gloomier than other tracks on this release with the story revolving around a troubled connection between a man and his woman.

I must admit that I rarely get into rockabilly / psychobilly / any-billy these days, but I really enjoyed listening to Our Way & The Highway.  In fact, after listening to this album, I am going to be digging into the Kats’ catalog as it’s been a while since I have rocked out to them.

Full of catchy solos and rampant machine-gun bass playing aligned with great singing, Our Way & The Highway is easily likable regardless if you are a huge fan of psychobilly or not.  I really think that this is the album that will act as a stepping stone for the Kats to emerge from the underground scene and really hope these guys make their way back to Cleveland soon.

Interview: Dave Hause

Photo by Lindsey Byrnes used with permission.

Any fan of punk rock music these days should know the name Dave Hause.  He is an amazing musician who not only fronts The Loved Ones, but also has been quite successful at being a solo performer.

Touring over the years with the likes of Cory Branan, Brian Fallon of the Gaslight Anthem, Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio, Frank Turner, and Mikey Erg just to name a few, Hause has had no problem playing his solo material to the world.  His songs are infectious to say the least, and always make for a good time.

In 2011, Hause released Resolutions at the beginning of the year and toured non-stop in support of the album.  When I saw that there was not a Cleveland date, I reached out to him for the below interview and decided to try my luck and asked him to play a house show.  He and tour-mate Branan were all about it and with help from some friends, we put on a show at the Gurley House in Akron, OH that topped my list of live shows in 2011.

It’s still early in 2012 and Hause is already touring overseas.  The guy just does not seem to stop.  All I know is that his debut solo album was amazing and I can not wait for his next release.  I would be happy with a new Loved Ones album any day, but there is just something about his solo material I am just drawn more to.

Before, during and after that awesome December evening, I had a few chances to chat it up with Hause.  Here’s what he had to say:

BHP: Last year came to a quick end, rather quickly if you ask me. How was 2011 for you?

DH: It’s been a great year for me musically, I’ve been all over the world playing songs I made up on my couch with tons of great people.

You have been touring a ton this past year with everyone from Hot Water Music to the good folk on the Revival Tour. How different is to tour without The Loved Ones?

It’s pretty different, I’m much more mobile and able to do whatever I want socially. I miss the revelry with my buds and playing loud some nights, but I do enjoy the ability to just get up and go with ease.

Is there a backing band touring with you?

Not touring with me, no. Where I can put people together for a few shows or a one off or something, I’ll do that, for instance NYC and Philly on this tour I have a full band. But not yet, I’m working towards that in the future.

You toured with Cory Branan towards the end of last year. Any reason Cleveland was overlooked?

Cory’s booking agent put the whole thing together and then asked if I would like to come along. I think he has something against Cleveland. Not Cory of course, but his booking agent.

Luckily I was able to persuade you and Cory into playing some songs at a house show in Akron. Thanks for that by the way. I hope you guys had a good time. I know some of the folk who showed up there that night were beyond stoked to see you and Cory trade off on songs.

We did, thanks for having us. It interrupted our movie marathon but was worth it.

 

Photo by Andrew Wells

Has Cory given you any tips how to shred on the acoustic? That guy is insane when he does that.

He told me he learned those from some guy with horns at a crossroads down south, and was reluctant to share them with me.

So it was just Cory and you on the road for this past tour right? Who took over the driving duties?

Cory drove unless whiskey Cory showed up. Then I’d try my hand. Whiskey Cory probably would’ve been better…

You gave a shout out to Matt from American War that night, did you think he was in the crowd?

No, I just thought of his music due to the fact we were in Ohio. He’s a terrific talent.

That he is.  So, how did the rest of the East Coast tour treat ya?

Interesting and quite fun.  Philly was great, New Haven was, well, north of New York city…

Did you see a lot of Loved Ones fans at the shows? Have there been mixed responses from them about your music?

Loved Ones fans have been way into the record and the shows. I write for the Loved Ones and I write obviously these solo songs, so it’s just minor tweaks of aesthetics that separates the two.

I heard you will be playing with Frank Turner in Europe next year. How stoked are you about that?

I am doing one enormously huge show with FT in England. I haven’t heard about any tour, but we always get together drink whiskey and talk about all of the touring we will do, so sooner or later it will happen I would think.

What made you initially want to drop a full length solo album anyways? Not that I am complaining or anything,. Resolutions is amazing. Just curious
If this is something you wanted to do for a while or if you needed to take a break from the loved ones.

I needed a break and wrote some songs that weren’t best suited for the Loved Ones and one thing led to another.

 

Photo by Andrew Wells

Who are your major musical influences that helped mold this solo release? It is safe to say this is not a punk rock album at all.

Well really not much different, writing songs for anything always hold the same basic influences. As far as the aesthetic, I love what Conor Oberst did with his 2 solo records, what Jenny Lewis is up to, Jonathan Rice, Deer Tick, Patty Griffin, etc. Just more modern songwriting acts. Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires both are terrific as well.

I love how you have so many friends / musicians contributing on Resolutions. Was it easy to recruit everyone? Were there others that did not make it
on the record that you asked?

It was totally easy, everyone was so gracious with their time and really excited about the songs and the project. Some of my dearest friends and some amazing musicians played on it. Actually there were people who later said “why didn’t you ask me?”, not really the other way around. I’m a lucky girl.

You sister actually played organ on Resolutions. Does she happen to play in any other bands?

She hasn’t. She played some recitals as a kid and then The Loved Ones dragged her out on tour on Build & Burn. I keep telling her to get her ass into a local or cover band to keep her sharp.

I can hear many styles of music in Resolutions including a little country twang. With all of your punk rock history, I was kind of impressed to hear that your solo material was not just you and an acoustic guitar. Did you actually write all of the music in the album or did you get some assistance?

I wrote all of the songs, but when it comes to the specific bass lines, guitar parts and that kind of thing, I knew the people playing on the songs are amazing and let them just go for it. Pete and I sometimes would guide them in the direction more suitable for the vibe we were going for, but by and large their initial instinct governed the parts. Chris Gonzalez in particular wrote so many cool guitar parts. It was really amazing.

The video for “Time Will Tell” clearly pays homage to Martin Scorsese’s short The Big Shave. Where did you get the brilliant idea to add your own
spin on the film?

I went to film school for 2 semesters before quitting college. I have always been a huge fan of film and Scorsese is a cornerstone. Not sure where the idea to do that came from, but I must say, I’m glad the idea came. I love how it turned out.

Will The Loved Ones be releasing anything anytime soon?

Not sure. I have a whole record almost done, but not sure what the schedule is gonna be like.

Are you going to help Chris Gonzalez on his solo album? He still plans on recording something right?

He doesn’t need help, he’s amazing. I’m going to sing some on it I think. I am chomping at the bit to hear it finished!!

You are living the dream man and it does not look like you are slowing down. What’s next for you?

Making up songs, recording them, then playing them for people all over the world. That’s living the dream in my book, and I don’t want to slow that down.

Billy The Kid & Joe McMahon Song A Day Performances

So apparently Billy The Kid and Joe McMahon (Smoke Or Fire) decided to cover 31 songs in 31 days for the month of January.

Going by the title Billy + Joe, the duo has been dropping an acoustic cover a day and have been posting them on Facebook.  Not just covering punk rock favorites, the band has been selecting all sorts of songs from a wide array of artists at their, and other’s, discretion.  I guess my question is, are they going to start writing their own material?  They really compliment one another quite well.

They have been actually taking requests for more songs to cover through their Twitter Page.  With a few more days left, it does not hurt to try and throw them an idea.

Have you heard of this little project yet?  If not, you are missing out on some fun covers.  Here are a couple of my favs:

Want to see all of the covers to date? Check out their YouTube Page.

God Is An Astronaut

Can’t say that I am that familiar with the Irish post-rockers God Is An Astronaut, but after seeing their video for “Route 666” today, I am hoping to change that.

In celebration of their 10-year-career, the band recently remastered their entire catalog with plans of releasing CDs and LPs this year starting next week.  The band released this in regards to their success:

“We would like to thank all our loyal fans for supporting us over the last 10 years through some of the darkest and happiest moments of our lives. It’s been an absolute privilege to share our music with so many people over the years; this is not the Beginning of the End but the End of the Beginning.” – God Is An Astronaut

I think I am most impressed that this band had done their thing all by themselves.  Since 2002, they have been releasing their own albums and setting up their own tours resulting in building a pretty huge fan base.

If you dug the above and want to pick up an album or two, head over to http://www.superadmusic.com/god/shop.html.

Aussie Pop-Rockers Tonight Alive Tackle US with “Breaking & Entering”

Fancy yourself a fan of the pop-punk rock?  What about cute Aussie females taking over vocal duties?  If you said yes to either of the two, then you need to check to Tonight Alive.  I am pretty sure fans of Paramore will be digging this band in 2012.  Having already toured the US in 2011 including a slot at Bamboozle, the band is scheduled to return in 2012 to tour in support of their upcoming release on Fearless Records.

‘What Are You So Scared Of?’ Full Album Teaser by tonightalive

You may have already heard of the band as they covered Mumford and Sons’ “Little Lion Man” on the Fearless Records Punk Goes Pop Volume 4 and if not, you need to:

Here’s their video for “Breaking & Entering”, the band’s first single off their upcoming release What Are You So Scared Of? due out on Valentine’s Day:

Formed in Sydney in 2008, Tonight Alive is made up of ingénue-with-attitude Jenna McDougall (vocals), Jake Hardy (guitar), Whakaio Taahi (guitar/vocals), Cam Adler (bass) and Matt Best (drums). The quintet finished 2011 with a bang in the U.S. with the release of a new EP, Consider This, a viral cover of Mumford & Sons hit song “Little Lion Man” from Punk Goes Pop Volume 4 and dates on The Fearless Friends tour with blessthefall, garnering them an impressive following in the US and around the world. The band explodes into 2012, kicking off their European tour with Never Shout Never this week before heading back to Australia for Soundwave Festival in February.