Guantanamo Baywatch // 8th Dec //
Interstellar Overdrive Presents
There’s a sugarcoated history of rock n’ roll’s infancy that glosses over the sleaze and debauchery of those early formative years. Perhaps reruns of Happy Days and other remnants of baby boomer nostalgia perpetuate it. Or maybe it’s just that every new musical generation feels compelled to raise the ante on riling up the young’uns, and consequently we have a tendency to forget how those electric pioneers were actually total badasses. Look folks, we hit a dead end with sonic extremes years ago. Do you really think you can conjure up something more unlistenable than Napalm Death’s Scum? One could argue that musical rebellion in the 21st century isn’t about finding new ways to deconstruct the wheel, but is instead about building upon traditions and perverting them to your own ends.
Take Portland, Oregon’s Guantanamo Baywatch—a band that has built their reputation on wrangling up a ribald mishmash of classic surf instrumentation and brash garage rock. On the one hand, you could view this adherence to the rudiments of rock n’ roll as more of an homage than an artistic stride. Yes, the trio owes a hat tip to Dick Dale’s guitar licks and The Sonics’ primitive blown-out strut. But who gives a shit about reference points anyways? Every artist has ‘em. The question is: can you twist your influences into something exciting and new? In the past, Guantanamo Baywatch demonstrated their ability to do so by cranking everything into the red, making those traditional motifs sound far nastier than their forefathers intended. Remember how The Cramps made rockabilly sound dangerous and seedy even after it was several decades old? That’s what Guantanamo Baywatch did with their crosspollination of tremolo-picked leads and basement-band brashness.