By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
They climb on the stage like acrobats tiptoeing onto high wires. Their moves are poised, exact; their balance and dexterity are honed to surgical precision. Their confidence is almost overbearing, an arrogant mix of savvy and narcissism bolstered by the knowledge that, in the eyes of their fawning audience, they can do no wrong. After a few tentative steps and gingerly strummed chords, they're leaping, prancing, writhing and pouting in the spotlight, locked in a violent ballet that may seem spontaneous and impulsive, but is instead meticulously choreographed down to the last sneer and gob of spit. With skintight britches and manicured songs, they fly above the crowd like superheroes or demigods.
Go see a Top 40, punk-light band like Good Charlotte or New Found Glory, and such going-through-the-motions stage shtick is exactly what you'll get. The performance aesthetic of punk rock -- just like its music and fashion -- has been gutted, studied and quantified, transformed from ritual into dance routine, from catharsis into athletics. Smashing a guitar is like hitting a grand slam. Stage diving is a gymnastic event. Fuck, it probably won't be long before high school jocks will be able to letter in varsity moshing.
And then there are the bands that founder a little bit closer to Earth -- the ones that take lumps, break bones, chip their teeth and rip their pants. The bands that prefer passion over glamour, danger over grace. Bands like Stuntdoubles.
"I moved here from New Orleans; I had done music down there for a number of years, and it just ended up being a fashion show," says Kevin Lomax, vocalist of the Boulder-based punk band. With his long hair, scruffy jaw and flannel shirt, he looks like the kind of guy you might find on a construction site. As it turns out, he builds and maintains pools in the affluent Boulder hills. The rest of the guys -- guitarist Darryl Dailey, bassist Mike Matney and drummer Seth Bennett -- are just as dressed down and unpretentious. Dailey and Matney work at the West End Tavern on Pearl Street, and Bennett devotes all his time to musical pursuits, including deejaying. The quartet -- after an aborted first lineup consisting of Matney, Dailey, his cousin Scott on drums and Dan Neal (now of Thruster) on vocals -- came together in the usual ways: meeting at parties, talking in bars and, in Lomax's case, answering a "Singer Wanted" ad hanging in Wax Trax.
"When I first called up Darryl, he said, ŒWe're practicing tonight. Why don't you come hang out?' So I went to practice with them, and we had to crawl through this hole in this beaten-up little shack," Lomax recalls. "The door didn't work, so you had to crawl in under it. Then they started playing, and fifteen seconds into it, I just grabbed the mike and went off. That was it.
"When I left New Orleans, I was at the point when I was starting to find my own identity, musically," he continues. "I wanted to check out something different -- climate-wise and social-wise -- from Louisiana. I just moved out here on a whim. Colorado was where the dart landed on the map, literally. I threw a dart at a map of the U.S., and it landed near Grand Junction. So I blew up a map of Colorado and threw it again, and it landed in Boulder. I figured if it was where Mork and Mindy were from, then it's good enough for me."
Bennett is the only Colorado native in the group, but all its members were raised in the province of music. Bennett's father was a pianist, and Bennett himself played piano and trumpet as a kid before becoming, as he puts it, "an old-school speed-metal head." Matney grew up in Baltimore, where as a teenager he was exposed to the corrosive strains of Bad Religion and Metallica. Lomax's childhood tastes leaned more toward Guns N' Roses and the Sex Pistols, though nowadays he'd rather cozy up with some Johnny Cash or Thin Lizzy.
Dailey, however, was brought up in perhaps the richest musical environment of all four: Hermosa Beach, California, the spawning ground of such punk forefathers as Black Flag, Circle Jerks and the Descendents. "I grew up in a town where punk rock was really big," he remembers. "In middle school and high school, that was all I did. Music, especially old heavy metal and punk, was a really big part of my life. So I started becoming friends with some bands and decided to start playing the guitar."
Some of the home-town friends Dailey made in Hermosa Beach were the members of Pennywise, one of the most successful indie acts of the '90s punk boom. So when it came time for Stuntdoubles to record its debut full-length, Dailey looked up his old buddies for some assistance. As a result, the group was granted recording time at Stall #2, a renowned Redondo Beach studio run in part by Pennywise's Fletcher Dragge and Byron McMackin. Stuntdoubles trekked to L.A.'s South Bay last summer to record with Pennywise producer Darian Rundall, who has also worked on albums by everyone from Suicidal Tendencies and TSOL to chartbusters like Kottonmouth Kings and Veruca Salt.