Every so often, Tulane and Loyola spit out a band that takes hold of people, like Caddywhompus or Donovan Wolfington. Now, Pudge is following in their footsteps. In February, the punk band played their first show, then released their debut full length Bad Land in the same month. The album showcases the band tackling a variety of styles with refreshing intensity. When I spoke with them in mid-May, they were working on an EP tentatively entitled Backstabber. The rough mixes of the seven songs show them developing a sound for themselves while still retaining their diverse quirkiness. The band is also in the process of setting up the Pudge Fan Club, a direct mail club that will help compensate for their lack of social media presence. Following the tradition of mail programs like the Misfits’ Fiend Club, Pudge plans to use the club to keep in touch with fans and send them weird things, potentially including art by members of the band and mix CDs of stage banter taken from various bootleg records. In mid-June, the band will head out on their first major tour of the United States. Over the course of a month, they will play venues like the infamous anarchist skate park Skatopia in Rutland, Ohio. On a misty afternoon, I sat down in front of First Cup Cafe to talk with Jake Silvas (vocals), Nick Corson (guitar and vocals), Conor Brodnick (bass), and Hunter Keene (drums). Over margaritas and coffee, we talked about everything from Black Flag to the Grateful Dead.
You released your debut album, Bad Land, less than two weeks after your first show. How are you able to move at that pace?
Hunter Keene: We don’t think about things. We don’t think about the consequences of the things that we just do.
Jake Silvas: Well, writing that first record, we were working with a certain amount of urgency because I was planning on moving back to California. So we said “fuck it, let’s just try to make a record.” We wrote and recorded it as quickly as possible. It was just out of necessity.
Nick Corson: We had been trying to get a band going for at least half a year and then legitimately jamming for about three months… We just made the record. It was already being finished before we played the [first] show. We just wanted to document the things we were working on. None of us counted on Jake sticking around, so now it’s becoming more of a serious thing.
I talked with Kevin [Lajoie, Pudge’s original bassist] when you were just starting and he also said that the band wasn’t meant to be a big, serious thing. Has that changed?
JS: Yeah. We like doing it a lot.
HK: We definitely put more time into it than we originally anticipated that we would.
JS: Yeah. Like Nick said, it was just supposed to be like a document, sort of a parting gift. But now, I just believe in this so we’re trying a little harder, I guess.
With Bad Land, Pudge almost sounds like a compilation where there could be three different bands. How do you balance that? Do you put any thought into those varied sounds?
NC: I don’t think there was any conscious thought. Most of my favorite albums just sound like that. I tend to like things that are all over the place and I tend to get bored quickly with stuff, so I think that’s the reason it sounds so diverse. We have a lot of different angles we’re coming from. [I like] albums like Hootenany [by the Replacements] and the White Album [by the Beatles] and stuff, where they’re all over the place. It’s like the personalities [hold the albums together] because it’s the same people playing all the songs and the same relation. They still stick together in a certain way.
JS: I think some of the most important punk rock records are left-field records. They throw curve balls at you and it’s not just straight hardcore. I get bored listening to records too and I don’t want to hear the same shit over and over again. So no, it was never a conscious decision to say “let’s make as many sounds as possible.” It’s just me and Nick jamming it out.
NC: I think it’s also that we didn’t know what we were doing, either. It was just like “We’ve got to come up with a bunch of songs. Let’s do it quickly,” and that’s just what happened.
HK: “Let’s put about five minutes of thought into a song.” [laughs]
Five minutes of thought into a one minute song.
NC: That’s a lot of thought.
I know Mike Watt [of the Minutemen] has played you guys on his radio show a few times and I’ve heard other people compare you to the Minutemen. How do you feel about that comparison?
HK: I think we like the Minutemen but we don’t want to rip off the Minutemen… even though sometimes it sounds like we are actively trying to rip off the Minutemen.
NC: I think people take maybe two songs on the record in particular and attach it to the whole thing.
JS: It was kind of disappointing, to be honest, that there’s so many Minutemen comparisons.
NC: I love them and I love Mike Watt, so it’s a huge honor.
JS: It’s flattering, no doubt. But, it’s like, did you really listen to the whole record? It’s only 25 minutes. [laughs]
Conor Brodnick: People are sometimes kind of mean about it. This dude on the internet was like “Minutemen much?”
HK: Oh yeah. I said sorry to him. I messaged him and said sorry. [laughs]
NC: I do think the ‘80s SST roster is our inspiration as far as punk bands go. The way they did it—
HK: Sickest thing ever. 1984: the sickest year in music.
JS: Channeling the spirit of SST, like good SST because Black Flag kind of sucks. Their early stuff is great but they got so boring, just talking about the same shit.
HK: I love the slow metal Black Flag records.
JS: No. What’s that song called? “Bat’s Eyes?”
HK: [laughs] “Rat’s Eyes.”
JS: “Rat’s Eyes.” It’s so bad.
CB: Black Flag are cool but they’re also responsible for some of the worst music ever made. [laughs]
HK: If we could be on SST, that’s what I’d want to be on.
NC: Except we wouldn’t get paid, so no.
Is that your dream record label?
HK: Yeah dude. Are you kidding me? It’s like every one of my favorite bands.
JS: I mean the Meat Puppets, the Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, Black Flag—
HK: Bad Brains.
Were Bad Brains on SST?
HK: Yeah. I Against I. The record sounds really dated but it’s super sick. It’s got all the tracks that were in Tony Hawk video games.
JS: So what else do I need to say? [laughs]
HK: Come on, you know Tony Hawk.
JS: I know. That’s what I’m saying… So then, to put the feather in the hat, we love SST, so it’s flattering.
NC: Except Greg Ginn is a fuck.
JS: We don’t condone the actions of Greg Ginn in recent years.
NC: Or ever.
CB: He was always a big asshole. That was kind of his whole thing.
JS: Horrible to everyone, all the time.
NC: Nobody got paid. Fuck that.
HK: We’re all about money.
Isn’t that what punk rock is about? Getting paid? [laughs]
NC: No but it’s about being fair. He hoarded.
JS: He was using Hüsker Dü’s record sales money to smoke more pot.
NC: They shouldn’t have had to sue him to get their royalties. I mean, that’s not punk rock, that’s not cool.
On Bad Land, you switch between different styles. Are there as many switch ups on the forthcoming EP?
NC: I think the switch ups just happen within the songs. They’re a little bit longer. It’s still diverse but it’s a little bit more cohesive. We’re trying to put out something short and aggressive. I think we had a lot of things to say that we were kind of angry about. There’s a general feeling of frustration.
JS: There’s been a lot of shitty things happening to all of us in the past half year.
NC: There was definitely a conscious effort to write something short and aggressive and well thought out.
HK: Just trying to zero in on the big Minutemen influence. [laughs] That’s all we care about apparently.
CB: We listened to Double Nickels over and over again for six days. [laughs]
I saw that one of your shows is billed as Pujj instead of Pudge. Is there any reason for the name change?
JS: We got two shows back to back and we just didn’t want to bill ourselves as Pudge.
HK: We really wanted to play with this one band but we were also playing the next night. In order to play with the one band, we didn’t want to bill ourselves as the same thing twice. Maybe we’ll do like a special short set the first night and then we’ll do the regular one that we take on tour.
NC: I kind of think that Pujj is our stoner metal incarnation so we’ll see.
JS: Come out to the show. You have no idea what will happen.
CB: I see it as what’s lurking in the shadows of Pudge.
JS: It’s kind of like our Steely Dan. [laughs]
You guys are touring in mid-June. I know Pudge hasn’t done many out of town dates. Is that the longest that any of you have been out on the road?
NC: Yeah. We’ve only played out of town once.
JS: Twice. Lafayette and Austin.
NC: Okay, twice. This is definitely the longest I’ve ever been on tour. I think it is everyone’s [longest tour].
JS: This is my first tour.
HK: They’ll be so sick of me by the end of this.
A month in the van.
JS: It’ll be good, though. It’ll be a lot of fun.
HK: I’m very excited. We finished booking the thing like two days ago.
Is there anything specific you’re looking forward to?
JS: Yeah. Let’s give him some highlights.
NC: We’re playing Skatopia.
HK: I’m terrified!
NC: It’s like an anarchist skate park. It’s like a skate commune.
HK: You know the level in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater of Skatopia? That’s Skatopia!
CB: I think Nameless Fest in Nashville is going to be pretty crazy.
HK: There was another one I was really excited about.
JS: The New York City shows are going to be sick. There’s a lot of cool bands.
NC: We’re playing Tallahassee with Big Heet.
HK: It’s David from Ex-Breathers’ new band.
NC: It’s their first show.
HK: My favorite gig I ever play out of town of anytime will be with the Chelsea Kills in Philadelphia because they are my favorite people ever.
Am I correct that none of you guys are originally from here?
NC: These two [Keene and Brodnick] are from Maryland. We’re [Silvas and Corson] both from California.
JS: It’s kind of weird how that works out. They’re pretty close to each other, where they grew up. We’re pretty close to each other too, like half an hour.
Not being from New Orleans, what was the first New Orleans music you heard that really interested you?
CB: I came down to see Caddywhompus when I was still in high school. That definitely stuck to some extent.
NC: Yeah. Going to Loyola, Caddy was probably the first band I saw and there was definitely that scene around them. That was the first music down here that I was freaking out on.
JS: My freshmen year, I remember seeing Caddywhompus in a basement and that’s what really hit home for me.
A basement in New Orleans?
JS: Yeah. It was on Broadway. It was crazy. All Caddy, baby. Caddywhompus is really where it’s at.
So you’re telling me that Pudge is just a combination of the Minutemen and Caddywhompus. [laughs]
HK: Are there any other bands?
CB: I think the Minutemen mixed with Caddywhompus would sound not good. [laughs] I love both of those bands. I hope that we don’t sound like that.
If you guys had to sell Pudge to someone with just one sentence, what would that sentence be?
JS: Eat my fuck. [laughs]
NC: I wouldn’t sell it. I’m bad at that stuff.
HK: Here’s our record. Okay, bye.
JS: Can you reword it in a way so that it’s not like we’re trying to sell it to somebody?
HK: It’s five bucks, please and thank you. [laughs]
JS: My clothes are ripping off of my body right now and they’re deteriorating because I don’t have any other clothes. Please buy this $5 record.
NC: Please buy me clothes. [laughs]
JS: That’s how you sell it. “Please buy me clothes.” How about “if we were to tell a family friend about our band, what would we say?
HK: It sounds like the Minutemen!
JS: Rock and roll? Rock and roll! NC: Rock rules, baby.
HK: Heavy metal rules. All that punk shit sucks. “Brothers and sisters” is how it would start. “Brothers and sisters.”
CB: I told my dad that I was in a new band and it sounded like the Who. [laughs]
NC: My dad said we sound like the Dead Kennedys.
CB: My dad was into it. He was like “Hey! Alright!”
Why are there no credits on the bandcamp?
HK: I don’t want people knowing I was a part of this band. Are you kidding me? [laughs]
JS: The album was just with Pudge. It doesn’t matter [who played.] [laughs]
CB [In a British accent]: It doesn’t matter who plays on the rec-ord. It only matters for the notes.
JS: There’s so much in between who writes what, you know? It just doesn’t matter. It’s just by Pudge.
HK: Buy Pudge for kids.
JS: Buy Pudge for children. [laughs] We should make a children’s record. Hardcore for Children. [laughs]
HK: Hardcore lullabies.
JS: But they’re all Grateful Dead covers.
HK: Stop. I don’t want to talk about the Grateful Dead.
NC: Okay. Can we talk about the Grateful Dead?
Pudge kicks off their U.S. tour at Gasa Gasa on June 15th with White Reaper and Neat. For more info, check out pudgenola.bandcamp.com or pujjpujj.wix.com/club