Tucson sounds: Gutter Town's outlaw cowpunk swagger
Punk music is the most outlaw music genre to ever break the law.
Except, maybe that's wrong. Because, technically, outlaw country is the most oulaw music to ever be outlawed. And, then again, what might really be the most outlaw music of all is the fusion of traditional music with punk, ala the Pogues or Gogol Bordello or country punk outfits like X offshoot the Knitters.
So it's settled, then. Cowpunk is the most outlaw music ever.
In all seriousness, though, it kind of is. There is something about the convergence of the two genres that makes so much sense that "cowpunk" or country punk not only persists, it kind of spontaneously regenerates itself with little or no passing of the torch from one band to the next.
You don't have to have heard of any other "cowpunk" band ever to play it. You just pretty much need to have punk leanings and hear a Hank Williams song or two.
In fact, that's exactly what happened to Tucson band Gutter Town, a trio with hardcore sensibilities whose music truly came to life with the addition of a little twang and a lot of hellfire.
TucsonSentinel.com: Hey there, Gutter Town! Nice to meet you. For folks who don't know the band, how would you describe yourselves? Would you say you're more or less a country punk/cowpunk band?
Jessie Williams (vocalist/guitarist) : "We are influenced by country music and punk music and I guess it shows!
TS: Origin story of the band?
Victor Wolfgang (drummer): "Last spring and summer, Jessie and I had been trying to do a music project. We attempted to write some grindcore songs or something like that but it never really went anywhere."
"In September Jessie and I had a show booked at Tia Nita's Cantina in Sonoita opening for Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks, Jessie does solo acoustic stuff so I was just planning to back her up on some of her songs. A week before the gig, Snoopy joined as our bass player and we became Gutter Town."
TS: What other bands have you all been in?
Snoopy Lopez (bassist) : "Funky Bonez."
JW: "Windmill of Corpses and Muddle of Pudd."
VW: "The Cactus Pricks, Texas Trash is Lost in the Sauce, Texas Trash and the Hangovers."
TS: How did each of you fall in love with your instruments and start playing music?
JW: "I just really liked folk music and wanted to learn how to finger-pick."
VW: "When I was a kid my parents had some Talking Heads VHS tapes and I basically wanted to be Chris Frantz. In 7th grade I took orchestral percussion (snare drum) but I didn't really like it. After a few years of taking occasional drum lessons my mom bought me a Ludwig drum kit which got me started writing and recording punk rock music."
TS: How did you discover rock and roll? And punk? And outlaw country cowpunk stuff?
JW: "Well, I discovered punk in high school going to shows at this taqueria. And I love Merle Haggard."
TS: Sounds legit.
VW: "My first punk show was in 2002 at The Pond in Cambridge, Mass.. Poison Idea played with Toxic Narcotic and Kill Your Idols. I was 15 years old."
"The next year I got a job as a dishwasher in Middlebury, Vt., and people at work would listen to Johnny Cash a lot which I could kind of get into. When I heard Hank Williams for the first time, I was temporarily residing under a bridge in Statesville, N.C. I think that was in 2004. I had heard a lot of different country music before that but Hank's old-timey sound was totally different and had a big impact on me."
TS: Favorite bands ever? Currently? Locally?
SL: "Faith No More."
VW: "I can't really pick a favorite band. My favorite new single is 'Six Wave Hold Down' by Hot Snakes."
JW: "Graves at Sea, BYOM."
TS: Future plans for the band?
VW: "We shall continue to rock!"
JW: "The Gutter Town EP is coming out soon on CD. And lots of shows!!!"
TS: Favorite band moments so far?
JW: "Playing with Lizard Man was my highlight."
VW: "Recording the Gutter Town EP."
TS: Tell us about your upcoming gigs
JW: "This Friday (March 1) we play a house show at 'the Roach Ranch' and then March 9 at Spark Project Collective
VW: "And later this month, March 21 in Prescott..."
JW: "...at the Mouse Trap, and March 22 in Tucson another house show at 'the Shit Dungeon.'"
VW: "And April 14 at Cafe Passe!"
JW: "Wasn't there more in April? I'm so confused. Oh, April 2 was at The Shit Dungeon too. A house show with Pretty Ugly.
TS: Sounds like a busy couple of months! In the meantime, what else should we know about the band?
JW: "We want to play all the shows! If you want to book us send us a message."
VW: "Check out Gutter Town EP coming soon on CD from Diet Pop Records. And we have the digital release available for free online at bandcamp.com."
Gutter Town joins Rough Draft, Alien Jacket and Sad Dance Party for a house show at the Roach Ranch. Contact the bands for details and an invite.
Video Killed the...
Last week this column invited you to check out a couple of exclusive video premieres by local bands. And yet, you could not actually watch those videos.
Because, what fun would an exclusive viewing party be if everyone could already see the videos on YouTube in their pajamas? Well, never fear, dear readers. We've got the goods now. Head to the playlist in the sidebar at right for the exclusive in-this-column premiere of Katie Haverly's local celeb studded "Titanic" and The Unday's masquerade fantasy "Making Out With Maker's Mark." Popcorn and beer are not provided, alas. You'll have to bring your own.
Since their 2018 debut, local garage surf trio Taco Sauce have strengthened their chops and done it in style, bringing their sharp, witty super-fun garage pop everywhere from a low key Fourth Avenue festival gig for a few dozen adoring mermaid costumed little girls to a high powered opening set huge Zeppelin tribute show on The Rialto stage. Did we mention those two gigs happened on the same day?
The band has recently been a little bit quiet with the departure of original drummer Dessa Keys, but guitarist/frontwoman Gabi Montoya and bassist Isabella Rodriguez are still hard at work and they have a surprise for you!
The band's new self-titled EP is about to drop any moment, so stay tuned for the next 24 hours or so! You can check it out when it's ready (and listen to a teaser single now) at tacosauceband.bandcamp.com.
February was a busy month in local music, and now things are winding down as bands head off on spring tours or for SXSW adventures. But it won't be quiet for long. In the meantime, stay tuned for next week's column, in which we talk live sound with some of our favorite folks to stand behind a board, check in with more denizens of the local teen band revolution and announce some killer lineups on the horizon in March and April.
Check your local listings...
Friday, March 1
- La Cerca - 8 p.m. Westbound
- Sad Dance Party w/ Rough Draft, Alien Jacket, Gutter Town - 6:30 p.m. "The Roach Ranch" (House Show - contact bands for details and invites)
- The Talking Hours, Conqueror Worm, Shit Knife - 8 p.m. Brodie's
- Moves Collective w/ Pherkad and Legio of Mario - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
- Buckethead - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
- Drew Cooper w/ Chris Hall - 8 p.m. Club Congress
Saturday, March 2
- Cash'd Out, Gabriel Sullivan - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
- Quaker Folk Tour Kickoff - 9 p.m. Passe
- Subspace Art Party - 6 p.m. Subspace
Sunday, March 3
- Ritt Momney, Yum!, Pelt - 7 p.m. Club Congress
- Phil Free Band, Los Diablos Gordos, Escape Goat - 7 p.m. Club Congress
- The Clairvoyants - 7 p.m. Fox Theatre
Monday, March 4
- Gustaf, June West, Pecas, Weekend Lovers - 7 p.m. Club Congress
- Logan Greene, Drew Smith, Bobby's Oar, Bryan Thomas Parker
Tuesday, March 5
- Fea w/ Taco Sauce - 9 p.m. Surly Wench Pub
- Bryan Thomas Parker - 7 p.m. Royal Sun
- Kurt Vile and the Violators, The Sadies - 8 p.m. Rialto Theatre
Wednesday, March 6
- Two-Door Hatchback - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
- The BellRays - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
- Al Foul - 9 p.m. Owls Club
- Carlos Medina w/ Street Blues Family Family
- Trippie Redd - 8 p.m. Rialto Theatre
Thursday, March 7
- Lucky Devils - 8 p.m. Club Congress
- Feverfew w/ Otherly Love - 8:30 p.m. Tap & Bottle
- Tucson Hip Hop Festival (Night 1) - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
Each week this column compiles a choice selection of live gigs in and around Tucson with the help of good venue and band event announcements and other resources. If you've got a gig coming up and you'd like your event listed in this space (or if your local band has a major announcement or a new release) drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.