Army of Infants knocks it down and tears it up
Boom boom, bang bang. That’s what this music does to you. It will bust down your door and crash through your living room. The band is Army of Infants and they’re from Jamestown, Ohio. A gritty rock duo consisting of guitarist Jared Welch and drummer Jacob Pflanzer, Army of Infants take the notion of bluesy garage rock and turn it up loud – usually while breaking off knobs and blowing out speakers. This self-described “trash pop” band fills their songs with plenty of dirt and grime, but there are just as many catchy hooks as there are ear-biting guitar licks and crashing tidal-wave drumming. On Thursday, March 21, the band will be at Blind Bob’s, fresh from an appearance at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, so expect the adrenaline to still be pumping.
Army of Infants began about three years ago with just two friends goofing around to bypass suffocating boredom. Eventually it grew into something more serious – serious, that is, in the loosest sense of the word. The band still likes to goof off, but also to strive to get some work done in the process. All that work led them to find their distinct brand of distorted rock n’ roll noise and it’s a big leap from their earlier sound. They released their self-titled EP back in 2010 and, as Pflanzer noted, “Those were ideas we’d had for a long time and we just wanted to get them off our chest. Honestly, it’s not really the same stuff we’re playing now. There’s a new direction, and our music has gotten a bit … dirtier I guess is the word.”
Dirt is exactly it. Trashy? Oh yeah. Songs like “Main St. Blues” and “Walk an Inch (Fall a Mile)” stink like an overflowing dumpster, but it’s the stink that gives the music its strength. It’s like if you went to that same dumpster, peeked inside and saw a bunch of cute puppies living comfortably in between two garbage bags. The band sticks a handful of melodies into every song, but it’s still gross. “It’s a pretty conscious effort to make everything as nasty as possible,” said Welch. “It can get poppy too, but even then it’s still a fucking mess.” Their lyrics mix wordplay trickery with bizarre off-the-wall phrases and elbow-nudging inside jokes that make dissecting it all just as interesting as the music. They can also come from real life, as evident in the song “Busted in B.G.” The “B.G.” in question is Bowling Green, Ohio and, as Welch explained, “That whole single is based off one particular event that happened to us after a gig one night – ‘Hi, Officer Ryan,’ by the way.” In short, the band found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and afterwards the song was born. Let’s just say it had something to do with “herbal medication” in the back of a van and we’ll leave it at that.
For all their wild high times, the band manages to stay committed to the music. There’s an extreme DIY sense to everything they do, from booking shows and small tours to releasing music and designing their own flyers, posters, cover art, etc. “Jared does all the artwork, if that’s what you want to call it,” said Pflanzer. “We’ll use whatever is visually appealing to us. We’ve also kind of adopted the gas mask as an official ‘logo,’ and that’s pretty prevalent in a lot of our visual output as well.”
Besides playing shows whenever and wherever possible, the band also plans on releasing new music this year. “We’re starting with a split with this band called the Black Shades from Kentucky and that should be out sometime in late March/early April,” said Pflanzer. “After that, we’d love to find a small label to release a full-length. But if not, then we might just do it ourselves.” The two recently finished a music video for the song “Main St. Blues” which can be found on the band’s YouTube channel. It’s an interesting clip, a little dark and very creepy. The band jams out in a basement/cellar/torture chamber while constantly changing between shiny alien masks and women’s thrift store dresses. It’s simple yet effective – just like their music – and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. “We like to stay busy,” said Pflanzer. “I mean, we’re pretty lazy, but we can utilize our time surprisingly well, especially with touring. We’re always booking new shows and playing new gigs in all sorts of places, so if nothing else, we’ll be out there spreading the word and breaking ear drums like normal.” Business as usual? I think so.
Army of Infants will perform on Thursday, Mar. 21 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Also on the bill are Ossicles, Smoke Signals and Sub X. Admission is $5 for 21 & up. Doors open at 9 p.m. For more information, visit armyofinfants.bandcamp.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Zach Rogers at ZachRogers@daytoncitypaper.com