By June 4, 2011 Read More →

MusicView: The Refuzniks Bring a Love for Rock and Roll to Graffiti

“Now brothers and sisters!” Devon
Boyd howls on the opening of The Refuznik’s
track “Testify.” “Now you may
not believe it…”“Say I’m straight out of
my mind / years of pumping gasoline/
and drinking turpentine…”.
What follows is a gritty rockabilly
anthem driven by a rollicking guitar
that could be the soundtrack to a late,
hot night of cruising. It’s the type of
sound that you might expect to hear
during Graffiti Summer, the Modesto
event happening in June that celebrates
cruising, classic cars and the music that
inspired the film “American Graffiti.”
On June 3 The Refuzniks will
perform prior to a screening of another
movie set in that culture –
“Grease” – at The Fat Cat Music House
and Lounge. The event starts at 10pm
and tickets are $10; for information, go
to fatcatmodesto.com.
You can expect that The Refuzniks
will be playing at full throttle, as they
do in all their shows.
“We drop the worries of the world
and lay it all it all out on stage,” Boyd
said, when asked to describe a Refuzniks
show. The band includes Keith
Breedlove on bass, “Mad Dog” Manson
on drums and vocalists Tess Boyd and
Shelly Sinn, as well as Boyd on guitar
and vocals.
“We hope that people get that, and
are able to drop their own worries and
just have a good time,” Boyd said. He
and Manson recently discussed the
band’s philosophy on performing, as
well as its sound and influences, in an
email interview.
MV: Tell me a little bit about your
background. How did you get into music?
Devon Boyd: When I was a kid, I
couldn’t help but be infected with my
dad’s deep love of music. He was the
only guy I knew who would turn off
the TV, sit in a comfy chair and listen
to a full album (vinyl). As far back as
I can remember I wanted to pick up an
instrument. Through school I played a
wide range of instruments but
at 16 I picked up my first guitar
and never looked back.
Mad Dog Manson: Started with
teenage rebellion. Going to shows
was a way to get out from under the
thumb of my parents, hang out with
my friends and smoke, drink and have
a good time. Watching the bands play I
could see in their faces they were having
a great time playing, so I thought
I’d try it for myself as I’d been playing
drums in school since the sixth grade.
Playing for a crowd for the first time
was a thrill and the adrenaline rush
never goes away no matter how many
shows you play.
MV: What sparked your interest in
rockabilly?
Boyd: I remember hearing a Stray
Cats song at the old Roller King and
thinking “that’s my kind of music.” I
think I was only about 10 years old. It
wasn’t until years later that I found The
Reverend Horton Heat, Johnny Cash,
Carl Perkins, Johnny Burnette and so
many others. They really laid out my
musical path for me. I didn’t really have
a guide to lead me to or down the path
of rockabilly but my wife was a huge
influence and she and I really walked
that road together making it more of a
lifestyle than just a taste in music.
MV: How would you describe The
Refuzniks sound?
Boyd: Someone once told me that it’s
what you’re full of that when bumped,
spills out. We generally describe ourselves
as cow punk/rockabilly/alt country
but what we really play is rock and
roll. Rockabilly purists would say we’re
not a pure Rockabilly band, and they’d
be right. You’ll find traces of everything
from rockabilly to gospel; from ‘60s
garage to hardcore street punk to rural
mountain hillbilly music. We just play
what we like without regard to genre
and it typically ends up being classified
as rockabilly. But I’d definitely say
our rebellious attitude and love for rock
‘n’ roll would place us in the rockabilly
family, as they were the rebels and musical
pioneers of their time. Rebellion
and music go hand in hand, from Negro
spirituals to Woody Guthrie to Johnny
Cash to Johnny Rotten. We’ve basically
thrown it all together in a blender of
modern day rebellion and are preparing
for the apocalypse with some new postapocalyptic
tunes to be released on our
upcoming EP.
MV: Is that sound something that’s
developed over time, or was it apparent
when the band started?
Boyd: Our sound has definitely
evolved since the band’s inception.
We’ve written music that each member
can resonate with and each member
has put their own unique stamp on
each song. Our lineup is as dedicated,
talented and creative as it’s ever been.
We feed off of the collective music we
create and each other’s individual performances
which in turn pushes us to
continually get better and be more creative
to keep up. We’ve formed a collective
DNA as a group which is what
I think fans see and appreciate about
our shows. You could say over time The
Refuzniks have become faster, harder,
wilder and musically tighter than when
the band first started.
MV: What is it about your sound
that you think your fans most enjoy?
R: If I had to guess I’d say it was
that we are genuinely having a great
time, that and maybe our wild rawness!
I think we’re always striving to crank
it out just a little more, we’re always
growing musically and I hope that never
changes.
MV: What do you enjoy the most
about performing with the band now?
A: I believe we have good songs and
my goal is always to try and prove it on
stage. So I’d say my favorite thing is
when someone comes up to me after a
show and mentions something specific
that we did that connected with them.
MV: What are the band’s long-term
plans?
A: We want to get CDs into people’s
hands (or hard drives), and become a
recognizable name by people who love
music. We don’t want our music played
on “Glee” or “American Idol,” we want
our music to be something that any music
seeker can find, but not something
that is forced down the feeding tube
of today’s pop channels and radio stations.

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