Rawk N Roll
Neighborhood Bullys amp up at Taix Wednesday night
By Bliss Bowen 06/12/2013
When the Neighborhood Bullys say they plan to rock, they mean business. Waves of volume emanated from the stage during their recent late-night set at Old Towne Pub, compelling more than one patron to listen from the sonic safety of the rear patio.
The Bullys may take cues from their punk forebears when it comes to decibel levels, but they’re as musically astute as they are loud. Catchy tunes like “I’m Bored, Let’s Fight,” “(Do You Have A) Boyfriend” and “Go Back to Drinking” are equally informed by classic soul and garage rock, with bandleader Davey Meshell’s limber vocals holding their own in front of Greg West and Sam Park’s dual-guitar attack. Humor and nostalgia punch through their sets; Meshell introduces their “Bullys Stomp” by describing it as a dance song like the Mashed Potato or the Twist.
“We wanted to write a dance song like that,” he says. “I haven’t heard a dance song in a long time that tells you what to do with your arms and your legs. It’s like a Martha and the Vandellas song. That’s where I’m coming from. I grew up in a musical family; my mom was a background singer over in the Brill Building [in New York], and my dad was a producer.”
“A lot of punk rock bands from the ’60s and ’70s were deeply influenced by soul,” says guitarist Sam Park, dubbed “the smartest Bully” by Meshell. “Especially the Stooges and the MC5 in Detroit in the ’60s. Punk rock lost a lot of that influence along the way, but in the beginning it was a really important touchstone for punk music.”
“I don’t really think that we’re a punk band,” Meshell says. “I think we’re punk-soul-pop. We’re sort of having dinner with Iggy Pop and Aretha Franklin in, like, I don’t know, Johnny Rotten’s living room. Or eating dinner with Duke Ellington and the Raspberries.”
“Honestly, I think that would be a pretty short dinner,” Park muses dryly. “Duke Ellington would sit for a little bit and then run off in a huff.”
In addition to Meshell, Park and West, the band features drummer Brian Head and keyboardist Zach Jones. They’re devoting July to mixing and mastering their next EP, then performing at a handful of Southland festivals before hopefully hitting the road for a tour of the East Coast and the Great Lakes region, where they’re receiving radio play.
“We’re all actually from the East Coast — well, one of us is from Finland,” Meshell says. “We have a lot of the same sensibilities. Same record collections. We have the rock ‘n’ roll ethic. It’s the kind of music that sort of needs a certain volume. Like a motorcycle; you can’t ride a motorcycle if you can’t take the volume.”
Neighborhood Bullys play Taix, 1911 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 10 p.m. Wednesday. Free admission. Info: (213) 484-1265. Theneighborhoodbullys.net