Treasure Virgins is the latest self-released EP from this Dayton band of brothers
By W.C. Ruffnel
While the Smug Brothers have been around for nearly seven years, they have done quite the bit of damage in the past four years. Boasting members (including one with arguably the best name ever) of several legendary Dayton bands, the Bros. have already released five(!) releases in the past few years. The current incarnation includes singer/vocalist (and DCP Music Editor) Kyle Melton, ex-Guided by Voices/Swearing at Motorists drummer Don Thrasher (see? Best name ever), Yakuza Heart Attack/Astro Fang guitarist Brian Baker, and newly added Shaine Sullivan on bass. This particular and solid line-up is ready to release the Treasure Virgins EP on Thrasher and Melton’s newly-revived label, Gas Daddy Go! Records. I caught up with Don and Kyle to get our fix of smugness with regard to the new EP, the label and other things worth mentioning.
How about a personnel run-down?
Smug Brothers started in 2005 as a side recording project with Darryl Robbins [Motel Beds] and I, who at the time were both playing together in Montgomery Greene. We released Buzzmounter in 2005. Early 2008, we began working with drummer Don Thrasher on Fortune Rumors, along with the help of bassist Marc Betts and drummer Jason Short. Baker was brought in spring 2009 as we began playing live — our second performance was the Underground Music Seminar in Denver in July 2009. Betts left in February 2011 and Gurn Blanston joined in June. [Kyle Melton]
What’s the skinny for the Treasure Virgins EP?
Most of these tracks date back to spring/summer 2009, as Don and I began recording new tracks for the follow-up to Fortune Rumors, recording in the living room at my old house — we would move the furniture around and I would teach him the songs really quickly and record just guitar and drums. We had about 10 or so songs laid down during that session, two of which wound up on the 2010’s Stock Romeo EP. As we started working toward Treasure Virgins, we went back through what we had left from those 2009 sessions and picked what we liked out of that batch, added a song we put together with the full band in late 2010, “How Different We Are,” which we recorded with Robbins just as Betts was leaving the band. At one point I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to put it out [until] Don and I started kicking around the idea of Gas Daddy Go! — it seemed like it was time to put it out. [KM]
The EP has been in the can for a while — we had a mastering mishap that led to a protracted delay so we’re very excited to finally release Treasure Virgins. It’s another batch of short, catchy goodness — seven songs in 15 minutes — that runs the gamut from indie-pop and dirty rock to an acoustic-sing-a-long. Hopefully, it’ll keep people entertained until we drop our full-length in 2012. [Don Thrasher]
What are some of your influences?
Too many to name, honestly, but for me the Beatles, the Who, REM, Husker Du, the Replacements and Guided By Voices would definitely be at the top of the list. [DT]
Would you say you adhere to a lo-fi aesthetic?
The majority of our music is recorded at home on a four-track machine but I don’t particularly think of it as lo-fi. John Wenzel of The Denver Post called it mid-fi and I think that’s more fitting … we do like to keep it loose and try to capture a living, breathing organic sound in one or two takes rather than slave for hours for slick sonic perfection. [DT]
Ultimately, it’s just a matter of capturing the vibe of the songs as best we can. We’d never put things like fidelity or technology ahead of the songs. [KM]
Gas Daddy Go! Records is set to launch soon – what’s the story?
Gas Daddy Go! is a label I started in 1989. In the past, the label released music in a variety of formats: seven-inch singles and CDs, but we also did a lot of cassette releases. We’ll be taking a similar multi-format approach to our new releases but for now our primary model is to make releases available on cassette with a code for a digital download. [We] started discussing what to do about the release of Treasure Virgins. We had both been impressed with the recent cassette releases from Footbinder and Hyrrokkin. Since we were putting the new EP out ourselves anyway, Kyle and I agreed this would be a good time to revive GDG!. [DT]
It occurred to me that it might be more fun to release it on cassette rather than CD. I put the idea to Don and as it turned out, he’d been considering reviving GDG!, which had been dormant. We talked about it and thought we’d start talking to some other Dayton bands about it and got a really good response, so we just kept running from there. [KM]
We already have commitments from some really great bands, including Motel Beds, Oh Condor and Astro Fang. We’re very excited to be able to help get some of this great homegrown music out to the people [DT]
Who is the smuggest of the proverbial brothers?
I’d say Don is the smuggest brother. I mean, have you met him? Darryl probably would have taken the title previously though. He’s more of an alumnus now. [KM]
Actually, none of us are truly smug. We’re actually a pretty humble group of dudes. [DT]
Treasure Virgins will be available from Gas Daddy Go! Records in 2012 or at smugbrothers.bandcamp.com. Smug Brothers will officially release Treasure Virgins at Gilly’s, December 17. Show starts at 9:30 p.m.
Reach DCP freelance writer W.C. Ruffnel at WCRuffnel@DaytonCityPaper.com.