Saturday, April 14, come get your face electrocuted with wide-ranging, pumping punk from Stark Raving Mad and irreverent ’80s hardcore from Handicapitalist at Urban Lounge. Chainwhip will melt the skin off of your face as they open the show with their screechy hardcore crust. Five bucks, punk as fuck, 21-plus for blood n’ pus.
Stark Raving Mad
Dave Sanchez – Lead Guitar/Vocals
Nick the Skunk – Guitar/Throat
Mike the Bass – Bass
Mikey T. – Drums
Over the course of the last few years, local bands Dubbed, Negative Charge, Killbot and Shackleton all shook the Salty City with killer punk and metal, and—as bands do—slowed down, retired and are now buried at Burt’s Tiki Lounge. Luckily, four talented musicians from these bands possessed the power to take limbs and organs from their old bands to compose a totally new monster, Stark Raving Mad. “We were created out of destruction, essentially,” says frontman Dave Sanchez.
Nick the Skunk and Mike the Bass formed the band in springtime of last year, after waiting 10 years for drummer Mikey T. to finally be in a band with them. Since Killbot had broken up, “it was a perfect storm because Mikey had no excuse to say ‘no’ anymore,” says Mike the Bass. Mikey T. (also the drummer of Visigoth) felt no aversion to joining Stark Raving Mad, though: “It’s basically because I have to have a punk rock band and a metal band,” he says. “I’ve always done that. It’s Mikey T. law.” From that point, Skunk and the Bass instantly knew that they wanted Sanchez in the band due to his expertise on the guitar, and his vocal and lyrical style. The nascent band’s comfortability from seeing each other play so many times and their long-standing friendships shot Stark Raving Mad out of the cannon to play their first show last summer.
Ever since, Stark Raving Mad has been blaring an eclectic style of punk rock that takes on elements of ska, street punk, metal and folk—to name a few. Skunk says, “Mine and Mike [the Bass’] rule to writing music has always been: Don’t just use one style because, then, every fucking song ends up sounding like … the last song and the last song and the last song.” The fact that T. is a metal drummer underpins this approach where, for example, he can add double-kick action (usually more associated with metal) to propel ska-guitar rhythms from Skunk and Sanchez. “That’s one thing for me, that’s why I wanted to be in this band,” says Mikey T. “We’re diverse and that’s why I like it quite a bit … It’s challenging and fun at the same time.”
Musically speaking, Stark Raving Mad composes songs in a communal fashion. One member might be “dicking around” and stumble upon a riff that will catch the attention of the rest of the band, then, the band builds upon each other’s work at practice without any necessary “reason or rhyme” as to how they approach songwriting. Each musician finds his niche as the song develops. “It just kind of happens naturally,” Sanchez says. “It’s like the world: There’s a place for him, there’s a place for me, there’s a place for all of us!” Skunk adds, “Even Mikey [T.] writes guitar riffs, sometimes. It’s pretty awesome.” As far as lyrics go, Mikey T. leaves the writing up to the front line. Mike the Bass, according to Skunk, has been “churning out lyrics for, like, 11 years now,” and Sanchez is also a primary wordsmith for the band. Skunk employs his prowess for shaping songs to be performed and caterwauled over aggressive punk beats and progressions, working with Sanchez as to how vocal alternations should play out. “I like to think of Skunk as my editor,” says Mike the Bass. “I get way too wordy—and I don’t fucking sing, obviously—so he takes it and he chops it up into something coherent.” Stark Raving Mad’s selfless coordination results in two-fisted punk songs about the general malaise of life, but with a “smirking humor.” Sanchez explains, “It’s about looking around, acknowledging things that you see or hear that are sub-par, but they’re always presented with this kind of tounge-in-cheek humor.”
December saw Stark Raving Mad record their debut full-length with the one-and-only Andy Patterson. Losin’ ta Will it All features eight blistering, multifaceted punk songs and one track, “Digging a Hole Without a Shovel,” where Sanchez ad-libs an insightful message about the world, and how there are so many fucking people in it—“Seriously, they’re fucking everywhere,” he reflects. Although the band will no longer give a digital version of the album away for free as they did this January, Localized will be the official release date of the album, and a special Burt’s release show will ensue sometime after April 13. “The only reason we basically need to charge for it is so that we can actually print the god damn thing and make fucking T-shirts and shit like that,” Mike the Bass says. If you “like” Stark Raving Mad on Facebook, you’ll soon understand why this release is something you will want to buy—shit’s tight. You will be giving the band resources to print a secret visual goody that will depict the otherworldly emergence of Stark Raving Mad from the depths with their signature smirking humor. Trust me on this one.