“Oh god, the feedback,” I thought to myself wincing as if squinting would make it easier to endure the screeching instrument or microphone feedback piercing the crowd at local St. Mary’s Strip venue The Mix.
I’d just left the Mastodon and Russian Circles show at the Aztec Theatre to catch the first performance from Hairkut – a local punk band made up of Paper Tiger’s general manager and talent buyer Ryan Brummett as well as Yoshimoto’s Mauricio Gudiño and ex-The Bolos musician Abel Lopez. I’m wondering if the electronic shrieks are part of the performance or just first show kinks since, all but bassist and band conceptualizer Brummett, are seasoned musicians.
“The band is one part nihilist art project [in the vein of] Chris Burden (a controversial American artist who used the the idea of personal danger as artistic expression for his performances), and one part skuzzy slob-goth punk band,” Brummett told the Current a couple of days before the show. “It’s dark and offensive, with some humor mixed in and I consider it a meditation on life after postmodernism," said Brummett.
While the the band’s two demos (which you can listen to on their Bandcamp page here) incorporate elements of punk rock and '90s industrial, the inaugural October 15 performance was unquestionably punk leaning, eschewing any fringes of the industrial textures found on the demos. The music is a reminiscent mix of proto-punk bands like Death (not the metal band), New York Dolls, or more currently bands like Protomartyr and Pissed Jeans.
The trio played for about 20 minutes to a crowd of industry folks including promoters, veteran musicians, and frequenters of St. Mary’s Strip. It was certainly a family affair, and with Brummett's investment in the music industry here, not at all surprising watching his colleagues and friends take in the procession of raw punk rock tracks unloading in distorted waves from the stage.
Brummett, who also has been curating unconventional shows through his blog-turned-DIY show-curating company Mondo Nation (and who previously hasn’t played in any bands), explained that being surrounded by artists and musicians all the time left him with a yearning to contribute and produce music rather than just showcase it.
“I [curate shows] for a living and I consider that my job but I’ve found what I was looking for [in Hairkut],” said Brummett.
In April of this year Brummett started going to Lopez’s home. Lopez had left The Bolos and was recording for his project GAGGERZ, and together they started writing what would be the first manifestations of Hairkut. “Ryan showed up my house and was talking to me about his (recent) divorce and he was admiring that I was recording at the time,” Lopez told the Current. “I told him the best way to deal with [anything] is to keep your mind occupied,” said Lopez who lent Brummett a synthesizer and told him to “go nuts.”
“The next day the guy went and bought a synthesizer,” said Lopez, and explained that Brummett also bought a Tascam recorder and bass guitar a few days later. “He fell in love with idea of creation … I didn’t want to direct him in anyway. I wanted him to experience [music] himself and learn the hard way, as any musician should – not to be spoiled, but bust your ass and fuck up ... It came to a point where I could see what he wanted to do, and [we started recording and] just layering and layering [tracks],” said Lopez.
The band also opened for seminal NYC hardcore outfit Reagan Youth in Corpus Christi last week and are planning on releasing their first album on vinyl in early 2018 with a tour to follow shortly after.
Given the steady involvement of Hairkut's individual members in the music scene, and San Antonio's love for all things DIY, the band's place in the local live music community seems fitting and welcomed. And if this is a sign of what's to come from the Alamo City in 2018, we're pretty stoked.
Thursday, November 30, Paper Tiger, 2410 N. St. Mary's St., papertigersatx.com.