About Boston Hassle
Boston_Hassle on 11/15/2013 at 04:45AM
You know that one great band that always ends up playing with a ton of shitty bar bands? You know when you go out to some dive bar with your friends and there are some crappy metal bands playing the stage, and then all of the sudden one act comes up and is legitimately gnarly, but no one really pays attention because it goes over there heads? For years, this was Bugs and Rats, from Quincy, MA. It’s not a surprising thing when you see Quincy. It’s a small town outside of Boston, not known for any sort of booming music scene. Perhaps it was the lack of music scene that helped Bugs and Rats ooze to fruition.
The boys; Shawnie Brando, Kellzo, and Radek Weirzbowski, started writing and playing music together in 2003. Influenced by the hardcore scene and bands like Godflesh, Nirvana and Eyehategod, the band's early sound was a mix of simple song structures, repetitive hooks and vocals akin to some sort of dog being strangled. The first release, 2004’s Smart as a Whip was (according to Brando) met with little interest from the Quincy bar band and metal 'scene.' Bugs and Rats were not really playing punk, they were not really playing metal, there weren’t really playing rock. It was hard to pin-point what they were doing.
Around 2010, Bugs and Rat’s finished what would be their second album, accidently titled ‘Adidas’ due to the album cover, simply depicting the classic three-lines that come on all Adidas shoes. With this release that they were propelled into the underground scene.
Adidas was recorded by drummer Kellzo in their practice space. According to Brando, the band had one goal: to make the loudest album of all time. ‘Adidas’ strips away any superfluous elements that could have taken away from this.
Adidas starts with minimal riff consisting of Brando smashing one note over and over until the chorus comes in. ‘Hallway’, like many of the songs on the album, uses simplified verse/chorus structure ideas, which displays all of the tracks in their true bloody glory. Each part is slammed down into your head. Each track sticks to you like you’re being tar and feathered by this groups fucked music. Every track has this attribute. Adidas is as unforgiving as Bugs and Rats could have imagined.
The album is not short of any conventional elements. Bugs and Rats decided to not be fancy at any point and stick to a stripped down formula for every song. Maybe there is the occasional bridge or intro section, for example the extended anthem-felt riff opening ‘The Juices’, (one of the albums most intense tracks), only to go into guitars and basses repeating the same bent string, over and over, very slowly with two words being screamed over and over – “Blood Money”.
The production on Adidas is extremely noisy. As soon as the drums kick in on the opening track, you can tell your about to hear some messed up shit. They managed to get the drum kit to sound like it is getting more and more broken through out the album. The snare drum sounds like it hasn’t been tuned in years, where as the bass drum is almost completely in-audable. Every drum spears to have just fallen down several flights of stairs or fallen out the trunk of a car driving at full spread on the high way. However, everything is mixed in such a way as to make the whole thing sound full. Where low-end may be lacking, it is fufiled with thorough amounts angst and self-disgust.
Feed back soars in and out of every track, while the vocals go in and out of clipping when Shawnie feels like screaming hard enough. Which is pretty often. On tracks like ‘Hot Skins’ you can hear the guitar playing the role of a siren, shooting three notes out in slow repetition to make a ‘melody’, only to go into the verse section which grooves with a slimy sass unlike any other, slowly churning with greasy sleezey vocals applied appropriately. Songs like ‘I Hope you get Greased’ show off a strange mish-mash of old school rock ideas broken down into an industrial realm of rhythmic simplicity, while feedback and distortion of course screams and pukes over every instrument. However, as noise-ridden and ‘fucked’ as Adidas is, the boys do leave room for a lighter sort of poppy song, appropriately titled ‘summertime’. A jam they rarely play live, but one that balances out the entire record.
At the time of the recording and writing of Adidas, Brando claims they were listening to a lot of Metal, Hardcore, and Hip-Hop. I was curious as to how the record di not come out as a nu-metal album nut more as a blatant noise rock ‘effort’ (or lack there of rather), and in an interview Brando told me the main influence at the time was unsurprisingly ‘talking a lot of drugs’. At the time, Brando was making a lot of music, writing a lot of songs. In the words of Brando, ‘I used to just get fucking high and sit in my room and jam on songs. Nothing else to do, I hated my fucking life’.
Adidas was met with acclaim from members of the underground scene. It was one of those rare moments where your friends make something almost perfect. Every part of Adidas has a huge presence. Adidas is an album you can feel with out having to try, and without knowing every song. In 2012 the boys released a third album, the also acclaimed and more post-punk influenced ‘Get that Fucking Light out of my Face’, however, ‘Adidas’ is often recognized as their finest album.
Perhaps what is most memorable and powerful about what Bugs and Rats did on Adidas was it’s lack of experimentation. They had a concept and communicated it. There was a strong confidence that is apparent usually found on albums put out on labels that have some pretty good notoriety. The fact that ‘Adidas’ was self-released is pretty awesome and impressive. In a way, it makes the album give even less of a fuck than it already does, or doesn’t. Bugs and Rat’s has a fully formed idea on ‘Adidas’, and all due to a simple idea – to make the loudest album of all time. They achieved it.