"Punk rock boogie" is a term coined, locally, by the Pattern's Chris Appelgren. It implies the kinda music that's loud and fast enough to pique your rush of adrenaline, yet has a rhythmic gut to it that makes you shake your thing. From the Pattern to Zen Guerrilla, that age-old blend of soul and rock 'n' roll continues to throw punks into a frenzy, and it's under no threat of throwing in the sweat rag anytime soon.
Outside our mecca of Bay Area rock 'n' roll, the Tight Bro's from Way Back When pack some mighty big balls in their rock cannon. The Olympia five-piece adds a dizzying, energetic hard-rock diversion to the riot grrrl/cuddlecore paradigms that first put Olympia on the map. The Tight Bro's aren't some lo-fi, made-this-shit-on-my-four-track act. They're not an intellectualized take on the corporate rock structure or white male oppression. They're a bona fide, kick-out-the-jams rock band, from their dueling guitar solos to their covers of Southern soul man Joe Tex ("Show Me") to frontman Jared Warren's high-pitched cries of hysteria. This is the kinda noise that could fill arenas in the '70s, but now it fills bars, house parties, and all-ages clubs. (That is, it fills all-ages clubs when band economics afford it. These guys remember being pissed-off juvies, stonewalled from clubs for being underage, and they try to make it easier for the young 'uns when they can, but gas money for the van gets expensive and all-ages gigs don't pay so well.) And for those Tight Bro's fans who actually remember what it's like to dance, so much the better. The band has no sympathy for kids who whip around like weedwhackers at shows, bruising all their neighbors, and it also won't stand for stern faces in the front row. These Bro's don't make music with "Little Richard's ass" in it for the sake of it (more on that later) -- they expect some neck-rolling, belly-shaking dance moves to go down in the presence of their greatness.
"We like lots of crowd participation," says singer Warren via telephone from Seattle. "Expect to be singled out and forced to do my bidding -- nothing dirty, just yelling and screaming and possibly a little dance. It's mandatory to have a good time. I don't have much patience for people who'll pay $8 for a show and then just want to stand in front and look at you. People in the front should dance. Somewhere in the late '80s or early '90s, moshing and slam dancing became the status quo. When people come to loud shows, they automatically start hitting each other. We're trying to reintroduce dancing."
This punk dance party was hatched outta Tight Bro's founder/guitarist Jon "Quitty" Quittner's noggin back in the early '90s. Quitty moved to Olympia from San Diego in 1991, and his metal/rock obsessions stood out like a Metallica patch in a sea of Unwound T-shirts. "Rock was not smiled upon back then," admits Quitty with a laugh, speaking from his day job at Olympia indie label K Records. "It was really different because people didn't talk about rock. It was punk credentials or nothing. So when I wanted to play music that had Little Richard's ass in it, it wasn't that people thought it sucked, it was just that they didn't relate. Everybody I knew here was still into Fugazi."
Young Quitty was raised on the Stooges, the Ramones, and the Cramps, but his tastes split from the punk dogma at several intervals. He also loved Judas Priest, and it was Ted Nugent who first sparked his love of guitar. "I saw him and I was like, 'Oh Jesus, I've gotta do that,'" says Quitty. "He's now known for being a complete cock and talking all this shit out his ass, but you can't take anything away from his performances in his heyday. The guy was, at least in the presentation of his music, as punk rock as they get. He felt it and he ran around like a motherfucker. He was completely insane. The only punk act that could even compare at that level was Bad Brains."
In the early '90s, Quitty chronicled his butt-rock and metal longings in a zine called Hessian Obsession. "I did the first one in 1993 and it was sort of double-pronged," he says. "It was half about growing up a young hessian and half about hessians -- laughing at my background and laughing at them. It would be really kind of stupid now, but at that time nobody wanted to talk about their metal background, you know? I was just telling stories and [drawing] cartoons."
In 1997, Quitty was in a band called Behead the Prophet with guitarist Dave Harey, when he convinced Harey to start a rock 'n' roll band that would break out of Olympia's punk shell. After a couple different lineups and a lot of experimentation with hard rock, punk, gospel, and soul, the Tight Bro's settled with Quitty, Harey, Warren, Sean Kelly on bass, and Nat Damm on drums. They've released three albums on Kill Rock Stars -- Strut, Runnin' Through My Bones, and the recent Lend Me a Hand. Hand is a pure rock 'n' roll tension break, with Warren screaming like aTina Turner and Janis Joplin's lung-busting baby while the rest of the band powers through a Blue Cheer/MC5 gospel punk rally.
Just 'cause they sound like the Monsters of Punk, though, the Tight Bro's don't want to get lumped in with the current batch of smart-aleck greasers and AC/DC cover bands -- acts whose shtick is making fun of rock. These bands are constantly trying to rope the Tight Bro's into a mismatched tour.
"We're naturally goofballs together but we don't want what we do [musically] to be perceived as funny," says Quitty. "It's still a little bit of a struggle, but I think we're finally getting there.... All bands probably feel this way, but we don't feel comfortable in any particular scene," he continues. "It's like [we] wind up touring with these hot-rod bands because people think that's where [we] belong. We were asked [on a tour] by Nashville Pussy. They kept asking us to do stuff with them, but back then we wouldn't do shows that weren't all-ages, so that effectively cut us out of the Nashville Pussy/Motörhead tour. Nashville Pussy is also the biggest example of what we don't want to be. I don't want to take that away from them, because that really is who they are -- they really are gearheads and they really are from the South and they really are women with gigantic boobs -- or at least two of them are -- and they really are kind of rednecks -- and they're lovely people. So when they do that tattoo/hotrod thing, that's not my favorite thing for anybody to be doing, but that's really who they are. But we don't want to be a part of that. We're not like that. We come from Olympia, where we want to make sure that, like, the girls can get up front without having their tits grabbed by some asshole, whereas that's not something that, say, Motörhead worries about."
Quitty says the Tight Bro's attitude toward live shows is "nothing you can write in a rule book" but they do take issue with assholes who lack proper concert etiquette. "I really don't like it if people get selfish and think they can get drunk and act like a jackass," he says. "I appreciate that people are loosing themselves that much, but we're there to have fun and respect each other. I know that makes me sound like a hippie, but that's truly what I believe in -- the kind of show where nobody's disrespecting anybody. It's funny for me to say, as someone who's punched people in the back of the head for continually unplugging my guitar, but that's the ideal."
All you rockheads with no manners should watch out when the Tight Bro's come to town. And for those who want to come out missing an essential protective undergarment, Warren's got a warning for you, too. "Wear two pairs of underwear," he jokes. "'Cause we're gonna blow them both off."
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