Organ Trail, BUMMER
Kansas City, MO, 64111
This event is 21 and over
Met. Fucked. Cigarettes. Music.
I just want to scare you, honestly," Matt Perrin says between mouthfuls of food. "When I get up onstage, the whole point of what I want to do is scare people. I want people to look at me and get uncomfortable. I mean, look at me."
Perrin is wearing black, square-frame glasses; a T-shirt printed with grazing cows; and a lime-green baseball cap turned backward over his long, dishwater-blond hair. When he narrows his sharp brown eyes, the 19-year-old guitarist and lead singer for Olathe thrash-rock trio Bummer appears altogether unthreatening. He knows this.
His bandmates know, too. Huddled around a table with Perrin at Grinders, bassist Mike Gustafson, 22, and drummer Tom Williams, 18, are about as unassuming as the basket of fries they're sharing. And yet, since the release of Bummer's four-song Milk EP last October, word of this up-and-coming band's brutal, barbaric sound has spread.
"I feel like people look at us and are like, 'Oh, what's going to happen here?' " Perrin continues. "And if someone's never heard of us before, I want them to be genuinely scared the first time they hear us. Because Mike's just ripping, and Tom's just loud as fuck."
"We turn all our stuff up as loud as it goes and we just fly," Gustafson says. "We didn't try to make it sound so angry. That's just how it came out. I just like super-loud, super-catchy stuff — stuff with hooks that hit hard."
Perrin adds, "We all kind of get it when it comes to that. It's gotta be heavy and catchy, but it has to punch you in the face at the same time."
Milk does come out swinging, and over its swift quarter-hour, the fuming and the venom don't let up. It's the work of a tight unit. Musical sympathies and ambitions are firmly aligned. Perrin and Williams have been friends since high school, and they were dedicated fans of Gustafson's now-defunct band the Resourceful Horse.
"The reason I started playing with them, even though I'm not much older, was because everyone my age was getting way too trashed to play," Gustafson says. "And, of course, that's fun and stuff, but these guys are motivated, and it was nice to play with people who gave a shit. We've all been in different bands, and this is just easy."
Not everything is about pure sonic assault, though. Perrin, who has roots in jazz guitar and doesn't play down his love of J-pop, has enrolled in jazz courses this fall at Kansas City, Kansas, Community College.
"I've been playing jazz since eighth grade," Perrin says. "I've taken a bunch of music-theory classes. I understand scales and keys. It works for us in that Mike is very feel, and I take his feel and I dissect it."
"I taught myself," Gustafson explains. "Usually it takes them a second to figure out what I'm doing because they're like, 'What key is that in?' And they're trying to figure out time signatures and stuff. And I'm just like, 'Just go with it.' I'm a terrible influence."
Another EP is in the works, and for the first time, Bummer is headed to a professional recording space (Weston House Recording). Another first: actual vinyl. But like Milk, the next EP — set for a fall release — will include just four songs. The reasoning?
"We're poor," Gustafson says. His companions give despondent nods.
"But this is the last EP," Williams says. "We thought it'd be cool to do at least one EP that gets physically put out, and then do a full-length after and put it out on vinyl — you know, if the EP goes well on vinyl."
Still, don't expect the LP, which might see a release next winter, to overcompensate with lengthy material. For the most part, Bummer's songs run less than four minutes, and the live shows rarely push past 25.
"There's a lot of bands that play for 30 or 45 minutes, and I'm standing there like, 'Dude, I actually want to leave now,' " Gustafson says. "We usually do a 15- to 20-minute set. We try to get in there, play loud and leave."
"There's an article called 'Six Reasons Your Band Shouldn't Play Longer Than 20 Minutes' [by Drew Ailes, of The Village Voice], and everyone should read it," Perrin says. "If you play more than 20 minutes, you over-satisfy. You want to leave the audience with just enough, and if they dig it, they dig it. If they want you to play more, that sucks. I guess they have to come see you again. That's how it's always been with us."