There's a moment in every fun-loving young man's life where he wonders when the good times will end. Bud Bronson & the Good Timers have entered that twilight of the soul with a hibachi, several cases of beer, lots of ice and a freewheeling attitude that's all "come what may."
"You get a free pass to be young and live it up while you can. But when does it just become your life and you're, 'Is this all there is? Am I still doing this? I'm almost 30,'" says singer/guitarist Brian Beer, whose surname might've sealed his fate. "Anyone that doesn't want to do that is just jealous you're having a good time your whole life. We're not sure. We're trying to figure it out."
The Denver band did some of the math on last year's Even Better Times EP, a raucous slab of Midwestern rumble with antecedents in The Hold Steady, Titus Andronicus, and The Replacements. They're now putting the finishing touches on their debut full-length, which will come out in the fall and is tentatively titled, Happy Hour in Purgatory.
Beer's spoken-sung narratives have the panning camera style of The Hold Steady's Craig Finn, with a similarly souring sense of self-awareness. On "The Good Times Are Here to Stay Pt. II," he evokes those teenage years ("cruising down Texoma Parkway flipping off all the cops, making out in the Taco Bell parking lot"), while trying hard not to look too closely: "I got no choice but to believe that our best days are ahead."
Bud Bronson & the Good Timers got their start three years ago as a three-piece behind Beer, current bassist Austen Grafa and ex-drummer Andrew Gordon. Their 2012 debut Hallelujah, the Passaic! EP has a folk-punk/alt-country air betraying Lucero's influence. (Passaic, by the way, is a reference to the area of New Jersey where Beer grew up.)
When second guitarist Luke Gottlieb joined after the debut EP, the crunch quotient rose steeply. As a teen, Gottlieb recalls "sitting in a basement learning Metallica riffs off Kill 'em All." He combines with Beer like cigarettes, giving the proceedings a naughty, gritty, badass veil.
Last year's 7-inch split with the Kinky Fingers featured "What It Means to Be a Man," which references football, beer commercials and sitting with your dad, but still doesn't seem to get a handle on the issue. Which is sort of the point.
"It goes back to being in the perpetual adolescent 20-something man-child playground, and you have to change your tire and you're like, 'Damn it, do I know how to do this?'" Beer explains. "So maybe it was time we learned how to do that."
As you may have guessed by now, there's no more a Bud Bronson than there is a Pink Floyd or Jethro Tull. He's sort of the band's composite of the perfect pal/drinking buddy, quick with a joke or a light of your smoke, a role that some of us never lose.
"The people I see who have the most fun don't even think about this," says Beer. "So sometimes I think I should just be living, instead of thinking. But it's hard to turn off your brain."