Articles from the Boston Compass, BOSTON/NE BANDS



At one point while chilling with Shawnie to prep for this piece, he starts naming fans, counting them off on one hand. To drive his point home, he pops in a DVD of a UMass Boston show from the early days. Most bands will find the scene familiar – there’s Bugs and Rats playing their asses off to a handful of indifferent randos, Kellzo in particular playing drums with the intensity of a short distance runner 10 meters from the finish line. Along with Shawnie (guitar/vox) and Radek (bass), Bugs and Rats toughed it out like this for eight years. Clearly things have changed in the past two.

I first caught them at last year’s Homegrown. The Dreebs had been stirring up a droney mist so thick you could choke, the whole Elk’s basement swollen to the brink with apocalyptic dampness. You couldn’t have contrasted a better band. Literally the second their set ended, Bugs and Rats blasted from the opposite stage, Shawnie screeching like he’d taken a beaker of acid to the face, puncturing the nightmarish ambience with urgent physical rawness.

Ever since Kellzo left Boston for Philly, the distance seems to have factored as heavily as anything into their desolately minimal approach. “We write like the minute before we record. There’s no time to really work shit out,” explains Shawnie (guitar/vox). Their entire creative process, from rehearsal to recording happens in the space of the few afternoons the band is able to meet throughout the year.

In addition to playing drums, Kellzo engineers and produces every record, crafting a unique sound for each while following Shawnie’s simple directive of “make my car mirrors shake.” Whereas Get That Fucking Light Out Of My Face contrasted jangley guitars with cavernous drums and bass, demos for the next full length point toward a turn for the surf (if surfing the wake of a spilt garbarge island in January is your thing, that is). And get this; at least a couple tunes will feature vocals by Kassie of G Toss, fans of whom may appreciate the album’s working title Mark Johnson. Make no mistake, Shawnie would have you take it as a genuine tribute; “Mark’s always like ‘you gotta do it man, if you don’t see other people doing it, you gotta do it.’”

– Wes Kaplan

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