Photo: John Carlisle
Mikey Mook - Guitar/Vocals
Davey Mook - Bass/Lead Vocals
Stevie Mook - Guitar/Vocals
Robbi Mook - Drums/Vocals
Every genre has its ups and downs, its offshoots and revivals, its evolutions and its cash-ins, but one thing is for certain: “Pop punk will never die.” These are the somewhat sarcastic words of Davey Mook, (who asked me not to use that quote—sorry Davey). From The Ramones and The Dickies in the early days of punk to The Queers and Screeching Weasel in the ’90s and Teenage Bottlerocket and The Ergs! in recent years, pop punk has never completely gone away. The genre provides a home for young, loud, snotty weirdos who don’t mind their rebel music being filtered through The Beach Boys, bubblegum, comic books and shitty horror movies. The Mooks have been doing their part to keep pop punk alive in Utah since 2008, and at Craft Lake City, they’ll unleash their firestorm of cuteness upon the masses.
The punk scene in Salt Lake has a reputation for being diverse (or splintered, depending on who you ask), so when The Mooks formed, they felt the need to fill a particular void. “When we first started we were playing ska music and wanted to sound like The Suicide Machines,” says Stevie. “But after our first or second show, we got really into The Steinways and The Ergs! and stuff like that, and we thought, ‘Oh, let’s play music like this,’ ‘cause there really isn’t any music like this in Utah.”
Robbi says, “That whole resurgence of pop punk coming out of New York and New Jersey got a lot of people excited. It started coming out of lots of places all over the country, and changing a lot.” The band had the Utah pop punk market cornered for more than a year, but experienced mixed reactions. “People don’t like pop punk because they think they can’t dance to it. You can dance to it, you can jump up and down and have fun, but people like to skank, and it’s stupid,” Mikey says. “Or they just wanna throw down,” says Davey. The band encourages prospective dancers to learn the twist or various other dance moves featured in ’50s beach movies for maximum enjoyment of their shows.
The Mooks’ first album, 2009’s The Snuggle Sessions, is firmly rooted in the late ’00s East Coast pop punk style—there are even two songs that namecheck The Steinways. It’s nasally, nerdy, simple and crammed with plenty of “whoa-ohs.” The band became somewhat inactive when Robbi moved out of state, but recorded Like You Like You—on a single microphone in a basement—when he visited Salt Lake in late 2009. The band only made 18 copies of Like You Like You, but it can be heard on their Facebook and MySpace pages. “We’ll probably include it on our discography collection in five years, A Plethora of Musical Cockslaps,” Davey says. Just before Craft Lake City, The Mooks plan to record their second album. They hope to release a cassette single with an exclusive B-side and a vinyl LP sometime this fall. There’s still plenty of pop punk to go around, but they cite The Ramones, ’60s girls’ groups and surf music as stronger influences this time around.
Seemingly at odds with the inherent silliness of pop punk, three quarters of the band are vegan and straight edge, while Mikey says, “I’m not vegan or straight edge—I’m LDS.” In addition to their Minor Threat parody (“Straight A’s”) and songs that reference X-Men and Super Mario Bros., The Mooks are open to tackling somewhat more serious topics. “We have a song called ‘Burn Down Burt’s.’ It’s about punk becoming stale in Salt Lake. Once you get past 21, a lot of people just start going to Burt’s shows and reminiscing about the old days rather than making things happen,” Robbi says. “We tried to have a song about being atheist, but it didn’t come out as naturally as we wanted it to. We always talk about trying to bring more of that stuff into our music.”
Even though they’ve been on tour, they are staples at The Underground and Boing! and have played to a packed house at Kilby Court on multiple occasions, The Mooks can’t help but feel nervous before shows. “If a show isn’t in a basement or a garage of some kind, it’s a pretty big show for us,” Davey says. The prospect of playing in front of thousands of people at Craft Lake City is definitely intimidating, but Davey has a surefire plan to get over his jitters: “I think I might just get on stage and throw up and start crying.” Robbi says, “If we just stand in the back and remember not to play ridiculously fast because we’re nervous, we’ll be okay.” The band also looks forward to playing to a new, unfamiliar audience. “I’ll be fuckin’ happy not to just see the same ten people at a show,” Davey says. “They might get it a little better and actually dance,” Robbi says.
Catch The Mooks at Craft Lake City on Aug. 13 at The Gallivan Center. Look for their new single and album this fall, and keep an eye out for fliers announcing their annual super secret Halloween cover band show. And while you’re at it, learn how to dance without looking like a goon.