Short and simple
The Blastoffs' new CD doesn't waste your time
Blastoffs singer-guitarist Kevin Kast will likely read this piece on his band, so now it won't come as a surprise when I punch him in his mutton-chopped face. And it's nothing personal; Heavy Kevvy, as he's commonly known, is actually one of the sweeter guys around. But no one enjoys having tunes stuck in their head, and "Dontcha Know That I Coulda Been Something?," off the Blastoffs' new CD, 666-Pack, has done just that. The song is a rudimentary punk riff over which that particular query is posed repeatedly, and it has latched onto my brain like a snotty, denim-clad tick and remained for days.
Together since 2002, the Blastoffs --- that's Kast, guitarist Todd Dentico (yes, the Grinders frontman), bassist Chris Slye, and drummer Todd Lange --- play what Kast calls "punk rock for people with short attention spans." He ain't kidding: 666-Pack (Kast cribbed the title from a TSOL lyric) consists of 10 catchy snippets of classic Ramones-meets-Social-Distortion-style punk --- plus maybe a splash of Bad Religion, minus the self-importance --- that unfold over a blisteringly efficient 17 minutes. There's a Marty Robbins cover ("Singing the Blues"), a song that addresses the possible ulterior motives of your plumber ("Mr. Rooter"), and a couple more (the breakneck "Feelings & Stuff" and the relatively poppy "Socially Retarded") vying for a long-term lease in your skull.
Despite having been on the scene for the last decade or so in bands like The Runs and Dead Blue Hand, this was Kast's very first interview. He walked away from it with every single one of his teeth because his compositions hadn't yet overtaken my subconscious. The next time we cross paths, however, he may not be so lucky...
City Newspaper: What was the idea behind The Blastoffs?
Kevin Kast: Dead Blue Hand started falling apart and I was talking to Dentico about it, and what he told me is "Dude! You should get a band together where you're in charge, it's all your songs, and you have the last call on everything." Immediately after he said that I asked him to play guitar.
Did you have a bunch of material already written?
Yeah. I'm always writing. When I first got The Blastoffs together I was so obsessed with not sounding like Dead Blue Hand, which was tough because I think I wrote like 90 percent of the songs. So I really tried to write differently, and it ended up being the wrong way to go about things. The last album we put out, Sin To Win, I'm really not happy with it; a lot of the material on it just sounds forced, doesn't sound like us. And that's why I'm really happy about this CD, because I think we're really hitting our stride. We're really playing the kind of stuff we're comfortable with, you know? Like real simple punk rock.
Any plans for touring? Can you get away from your grown-up jobs?
It's kind of tough for us, and that's why I don't really shop us out to labels, because they always want you to tour to support what they've put money into.
Then maybe weekend-type jaunts?
Well, that's the thing. We meet these bands from out of town and go to whatever city they're from and hang out for a weekend, and that's a lot more fun anyway, because I honestly wouldn't want to spend more than two days on the road with my band. We'd all kill each other. Or at least a couple of us would kill the other two.
What makes you want to do it still?
I don't really have much else to do. My job is great and pays the bills but it's really not what I'm passionate about. I'm constantly writing music and I gotta do something with it.
So you're not harboring any illusions about getting rich and hanging out at The Grotto.
We are not out to sell ourselves.
Yeah, but you kinda have to. I mean, what do you call this?
Well, we want people that are into it to come out to the shows. We're not going to do a photo shoot, we don't have a real fancy press pack, or any of that bullshit like a lot of the bands that are trying to make it have. If the music isn't selling you, then what's the point? You can have the prettiest picture of a band looking mean in front of a brick wall, but who gives a rat's ass if the music sucks?
The Blastoffs do some killer covers of Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins live. What's with the country?
I love classic country, and I see a lot of parallels between punk and country because they had a rebellious attitude and they didn't give a shit and they played their music and they drank their whiskey and they had a great time. That's what punk rock is about.
The Blastoffs and Tom Foolery and the Shannanighans celebrate the releases of their latest CDs with Eddie Nebula and the Plague Saturday, October 14, at the Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Avenue, 454-2966. 10 p.m. $6.21+. www.theblastoffs.com.