Male Blonding Puts the Pun in Post-Punk

When you think about Boulder, do you think about modern post-punk? Probably not. But in 2013, the four members of Male Blonding got together in drummer Andrew Bair's bedroom, with no specific agenda in mind, and that's what they made. That day, they wrote “Still Parts,” a song that appeared on the band's debut EP Go Platinum in 2014. (Yes, they like puns.)

Earlier in 2013, Bair had met guitarist/vocalist Noah Simons and guitarist Bryce Navin, along with his co-worker, bassist Mike Perkins. A discussion of musical interests and mutual influences revealed Perkins's heavy interest in post-punk and everyone's appreciation for Interpol, Women and Wire. But on a more personal level, the future members of Male Blonding discussed the current state of aimlessness in their lives. All had attended college: Simons and Navin at Portland State in Oregon, Perkins at CU, and Bair at Bowling Green State in Ohio. But outside of holding down jobs in a time when work can be elusive, the guys didn't feel they had a direction in which to focus their individual energies — until they got together to form Male Blonding. 

The name came about as an exercise in wordplay, beating out suggestions of Auto Blonde and Covalent Blondes. The moniker stuck, even though some new listeners have confused Male Blonding with the London-based noise rock band Male Bonding. The group's first live performance happened at comic artist Anthony Cortez's house in Denver. Following that, Male Blonding played its first venue show at Lost Lake Lounge in 2013, when it was supposed to open for for Howling Hex, the group fronted by Neil Michael Hagerty of Royal Trux.

“[When we got there], Neil Hagerty leveled with me,” recalls Navin: “'Man, you've got a lot of friends here. Why don't you headline?'”

All joking and tongue-in-cheek references aside, the band became a serious and active project in the local scene when the members relocated to Denver in 2014. The band's inventively angular rhythms matched with unusual yet accessible melodies set it apart from other local rock acts.

While the band's early sound reflected more surf rock and garage rock, Male Blonding's sound has now shifted as its musical interests evolved. On its new EP, Tiny Deaths, the sound is darker, more confident, more measured yet more in touch with the power of subtle emotional dynamics in songwriting. 

“When we started, I was listening to Ty Segall and garage rock in general,” Simons says. “That was easy to write quickly and [with] power chords. But in terms of music we're making [for the new EP], it was more intricate, and we were listening to Freak Heatwaves, Viet Cong and Ought.”

“Mike got me into Can and Faust," adds Bair, "so polyrhythmic stuff is where I wanted to go after we got over the hump of writing simpler songs. Before this EP, I was staying super in-the-pocket instead of expanding beyond that.”

This year, Male Blonding is finally taking its moody, restless music outside of Colorado;the band hopes to perform at Treefort Music Festival in Boise, with a jaunt through the Northwest to follow. Sounds like the perfect climate for hopeful rainy-day music made in a sunny state.

Male Blonding with Oko Tygra and Normal//Eyes, 9 p.m., Friday, January 15, $7, Syntax Physic Opera, 720-456-7041, 21+.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.