THE EXPLOSION EXPLODE
Photo by Tim Owen, courtesy of Jade Tree
by Lauren Dayap (April 2003)What do you get when you cross a little of Stiff Little Fingers and Dag Nasty with razor sharp guitar riffs? Not that wimpy pop punk band Good Charlotte but, The Explosion, a five-some í77-ish punk band from Boston. 'Million Dollar' Matt Hock (lead vocalist) leads the pack; with a little of arpeggio from Sam Cave (guitarist and formerly of Boston punk band, The Trouble) and David Walsh (guitarist); and finally holding up the rhythms are Damian Genuardi (bassist and formerly of Boston hardcore band In My Eyes) and Dan Colby (drummer who later bowed out late 2000 to work on other projects and was replaced by session musician Andrew Black).
High school chums Hock and Genuardi met Walsh through a mutual friend, Rama Mayo, head of the non-so quite mainstream label, Big Wheel Recreation Records. All three of them kept talking about starting a band and happened in the fall of 1998 with Cave and Colby joining in later. The band put out a demo and pressed 250 copies with no intention of going gold. All of the cassettes nearly sold out on tour in the east coast and it fell into the hands of Kid Dynamiteís roadie who passed it onto indie rock label, Jade Tree Records. So the band put out a self-titled EP (aka the demo) and then put out their debut LP Flash Flash Flash on Jade Tree. The release of both of those albums got them U.S. and Europe touring gigs with Sick of it All, Avail, Leatherface, U.S. Bombs, Alkaline Trio and The Queers, opened for Social Distortion and Joe Strummer and toured a leg of the 2001 Warped Tour. They also became first runner up as Best Local Punk Act in the Boston Phoenix and not to mention that Spin Magazine named their debut as one of the best 20 albums of 2000 and named them as one of the top 10 punk bands of 2001. Even though things have been going great for The Explosion, they have faced a bit of controversy.
Genaurdiís former band, In My Eyes was still going on the same time as The Explosion and put out their albums on Revelation Records. When things were going great for the band (touring et al and signing with Jade Tree), Revelation Records freaked because of Genuardiís involvement. They threatened to sue him if his face appeared on any of The Explosionís records and Genuardi didnít want to bring that risk into the band. The result of that situation was them writing on the road and recording five-song EP for Revelation, which was sarcastically titled Steal This because of the whole mess. Even though The Explosion might have gotten flak from Revelation Records, that still didnít change the way they sounded on their albums.
To me, what seems to separate The Explosion from say Boston punk/oi! bands like Dropkick Murphys and The Unseen is the fact that they make punk rock on a smarter level. You can just tell that from the opening song on Flash Flash Flash "No Revolution" which has the lines "On the edge of tomorrow what are we fighting for/ We fight each other whenever we get bored/ Jaded kids hatred wins and we all lose/ Schemes kill our dreams its self abuse." Theyíre aware that punk rock is more than fashion and boozing with friends or whatever, itís really a spirit and attitude. And at times, theyíre a little jaded with the world judging from the lyrics in their songs), but hey arenít we all? Not only have their lyrics been smart and catchy, but also so has the music since itís tight and not sloppy unlike most punk bandsí sound. It doesnít sound like these guys have been playing for 4 1/2 years- hell, it sounds more like 20 and surprisingly all of them are under 30. Even though they may have tight, melodic songs, thereís no lack of rawness- itís definitely there and always will be.
The Explosionís self-titled EP is a good effort. The best tracks are "These Times" (basically about not giving a fuck about anything), "Out Tonight" (going out and wreaking havoc) and "Youth Explosion" (about youth culture, natch). Thereís definitely an old-school snotty punk sound in this album since thereís such a brash feel to it complete with rousing anthems, mad driven guitars and Hockís snarling vocals. Still, the production wasnít quite up to par as it shouldíve been, but itís still decent. The EP even got critical acclaim reviews from several music magazines and online zines. Would they be able to follow up on it? Hell yea!
Their debut came out in the summer of 2000 and it is far superior to the EP. The guitars on this record are more furious, razor-sharp but still have melody and Hockís vocals are definitely more angry and believable than the EP. Another different aspect I noticed here is that the lyrics in most of the songs seem to take on a rhetorical approach, but itís also quite narrative. The songs themes range from being disgruntled with corporations, realizing everyone around us isnít perfect, and how universal culture has been westernized. Stellar tracks are "No Revolution," "God Bless the SOS," " Reactor," "Tarantulas Attack," "Terrorist," "The Ideal," "Novocaine," and "Points West." I have never heard a punk band sound so fucking tight as Iíve listened to this record numerous times for quite sometime now.
Since I literally could not get Flash Flash Flash out of my CD player, I was looking forward to acquiring their next EP, Steal This. I donít think it measures up though. The songs are quite good in that thereís more anthemic choruses and there is still quite an edge in their sound but I didnít sense any magic that their first album had. It could be due to the fact they were still touring and were pressured by Revelation to write and record songs in practically like a week. Not surprisingly, it pretty much sounded a little half-assed in comparison to what they did before. However, there are some notable songs like "Safety Belt," "Blue," "Dotted Lines," and "E.X.P.L.O.S.I.O.N."
So, with two EPís, an LP, and touring the U.S. and Europe, whatís next in store for the quintet? The Explosion has been touring relentlessly, most recently with One Man Army and Madcap all over the U.S and have some upcoming shows with AFI. Early this year, theyíre releasing a 5-song EP called Sick of Modern Art on their own label, Tarantulas Records. Hopefully, itíll retain the same energy they have churned out in all their albums. I canít wait.
LATE BREAKING NEWS: Most surprisingly recently, seven major labels were in a bidding war over the band. Eventually, they inked a deal with Virgin Records, who will help distribute Sick of Modern Art and release their second LP this coming fall. Congrats on hitting the big time, boys. Judging by the contracts that most acts get with major labels, this means that you'll probably need day jobs more than ever, sad to say...
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