So I know this 8-year-old kid named Zane. Because he's got a punk rock mom, he's further along in his punk tutelage than most people three times his age. Recently, Mom dictated that he could see only one of two Darkside shows.
Sorry, Aquabats -- Zane chose The Briefs.
Briefs' singer/guitarist Steve E. Nix loves the idea of the Littlest Brief. On tour in Chicago, hanging out in a record store, he contemplates Zane's future.
"I think it's great! I'll just give him a horrible haircut and bleach it, and slap a leather jacket on him and he'll be set," Nix says.
Formed in 1999, The Briefs started out playing a paltry three songs at a party, then eventually moved into clubs. Several recordings later, they're spending over half the year on tour in the United States and Europe, and even Japan for the first time.
The musical influences of these self-described "record collector geeks" run more toward The Ramones and The Damned than Blink 182 or Good Charlotte. Their latest album, Sex Objects, wrangles in a little punkabilly, a little beach rock, a lot of early punk of the 1970s English sort, and the odd mix of grit and glam that was the early-'80s L.A. scene.
Most of the album features the dependable one-two drum speed, but it varies enough to stay interesting past the third song. Reliably, The Briefs "Hate the USA" but still are "Shoplifting at Macys" and feeling "Ephedrine Blue."
Although they take their cues from early punkers, they're not a retro band. Their haircuts may say otherwise, but their brand of punk is rather timeless.
"That's just where our inspiration is from, trying to keep that initial spirit of punk rock alive," explains Nix. "It's what we're passionate about, what we grew up listening to."
Though punk rock prides itself on flipping off the mainstream and raging against the proverbial machine, the truth is that much of today's punk is as gentrified as Barry Manilow. Nix takes pride in the Northwest music scene, which pops out determinedly unique underground bands.
"When we play in California, there's so many kids playing the same pop-punk formula ... it's really glassed-over, it's not threatening anymore," he says.
Although Nix insists the band is serious about their songwriting, The Briefs, frankly, look damn goofy. Interestingly, Nix can draw a parallel between their signature plastic sunglasses and their music-making.
"It's fucking hard to find good sunglasses!" Nix says. "It's a fine line. They have to look really tacky but really cool."
But doesn't that describe the band as well?
He laughs, recalling a classic line from Spinal Tap.
"Yeah, we're a fine line of clever and idiotic."
-- Kara Luger
The Briefs with The Right Aways, Brain Failure and 3 Round Burst
Darkside, 2106 E. Platte Ave., 231-9701
Thursday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $8, all ages; visit ticketweb.com.
I miss you, Lenny! My family and I thank you for all the special times…
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