Smug Brothers reunite with two new releases
By Leo DeLuca
“Smugs” have been a staple of Dayton’s independent rock n’ roll scene for nearly a decade. Formed by frontman [and DCP Editor/Music Editor] Kyle Melton in late 2004, the band is now augmented by drummer Don Thrasher (Guided By Voices, Swearing at Motorists, etc.), guitarist Brian Baker and bassist Larry Evans.
Following a two-year dry period, Smug Brothers are making up for lost time with two new releases – the Strictly Triggers EP and On the Way to the Punchline. Both albums are available via Gas Daddy Go!, a boutique label formed by Thrasher and recently revived with Melton’s aid.
Though the band’s prolificacy has arrived in spurts, this pattern is not unfamiliar to Gem City rockers; The Breeders, Guided By Voices, Swearing at Motorists and more have all taken years between releases. Smugs have followed suit. Thankfully, however, they seem to be in the midst of a creative swell.
I had the opportunity to speak with both Melton and Thrasher in anticipation of their release forthcoming release show:
Were you a fan of Don’s previous bands – Guided By Voices and Swearing at Motorists – before he joined the band?
Oh sure, I was a big fan. The first time Don and I ever got together to record I was kind of freaking out. What songs do you show the guy who played drums with those bands? Apparently, Don had no idea, so I guess I played it cool. – Kyle Melton
What is your writing process like? Your lyrics tend to be very non sequitur. That said, is there a thought out message you are trying to convey – masked behind cryptic lyrics – or do the lyrics arrive in a stream of consciousness, designed to be open to interpretation? If it’s both, which do you employ more often? What inspires the songs?
I typically start with song titles, as they serve as good cues to write for me. I’m definitely not a storyteller in the traditional sense, but for me a lot inspiration comes from growing up in a suburban neighborhood with lots of kids hanging around making mischief. It’s not so much stream of consciousness as it is impressionistic. It’s definitely open to interpretation, as those have always been the kinds of songs I’m drawn to. A lot of the songs on the album are about things I’ve gone through or thought about, but I guess I just have my own way of recounting those experiences other than a literal recounting of events. –KM
You’ve been in the Gem City since the late 1970s. Who are your top three favorite Dayton acts of all-time?
That is not a question I can answer so easily. I am quite obsessive about Dayton music and like a wide variety of styles. My favorite funk bands are the Ohio Players, Slave and Sun. My three favorite punk bands are Toxic Reasons, Haunting Souls and the Obvious. My three favorite post-punk bands are Dementia Precox, Brainiac and Raging Mantras. My three favorite rap acts are my son, Josh Thrasher, Universal Dialect and Akil. My favorite unsung bands are Captain of Industry, Shrug and Flyaway Minion; they are deserving of much wider recognition. For indie bands it’s Guided By Voices, Swearing at Motorists and Smug Brothers. I know I am or have been involved with all of the bands, but if you’re not playing the shit you love, you’re living wrong. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg because we didn’t get into The Mulchmen, The Amps, The Method, Southeast Engine, Ruckus Roboticus, Crazy Joe, Gregg Spence, Joe Anderl, Andy Smith and so many others I love so much. In other words, don’t get me started on Dayton music. –Don Thrasher
You’ve seen the city’s music scene go through many stages. What do you feel contributes to a healthy Gem City music scene?
Dayton already has a lot of things that contribute to a healthy scene: A number of clubs and venues available to original rock acts, media support from print, radio and the Internet, record stores open to selling local music and, of course, a wealth of talent. There are special events like Dayton Music Fest and Dayton Does Dayton. Those are all major pluses but we always need more people coming to shows and getting involved in promoting and supporting hardworking bands. All-ages shows are a great way to introduce young folks to the diverse talent playing in town. There are bands like Hawthorne Heights and Mouth of Architect touring the world. More acts need to get out and tour or do long weekends out of town. That’s how you grow as a band and it helps build a fan base out of town while also spreading the Dayton brand, which can feed back into the local scene. Meet out of town bands and trade shows. Bring fresh talent into town. Keep making great music and keep sharing it with people. –DT
Smug Brothers celebrate the release of On the Way to the Punchline with a show on Saturday, Feb. 22 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. Also on the bill are The 1984 Draft, Human Cannonball and The Turkish Delights. Admission is $5 for all ages. Doors at 8 pm. For more information, please visit facebook.com/smugbros or gasdaddygo.bandcamp.com