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Antsy & Sluggo

Local punk purists the Slugboys wear their influences—and their attitudes—on their ripped sleeves

by John Sewell

Twenty years ago when the news of punk rock filtered through the mass media to the hinterlands, everybody thought it was just a trend. Even the punks themselves would have told you that the move-ment's nihilism would cause a quick burnout and that built-in obsolescence was the master plan anyway. Well, here we are two decades down the road and, in a final ironic twist, punk is deeply embedded in the national scene and has strongly influenced a generation. Today you can expect to find a contingent of punk rockers in almost every town, no matter how small.

Which brings us to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., the unlikely home of punk purists the Slugboys. The trio has been banging out their mix of high octane guitar riffs and adolescent rage for around a year, causing a ruckus in their hometown as well as in Knoxville. During their one year reign of terror, the boys have managed to play several shows in Knoxville, record a four-track demo, and take a couple of field trips to larger cities.

The band's style is a conglomeration of the usual four-chord punk influences: The Ramones, The Misfits, The Subhumans, GG Allin and The Exploited. With titles like "Chainsmoker," "Mr. Rage," and "I Don't Want Her," The Slugboys' songs cover the standard post-teenage traumas of hanging out, girl problems, nothing to do, and—what else—drinking beer.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Robbie says the band tries to avoid the angst of the grunge set in their lyrics. "We're not negative. I don't want to whine to people about hating myself and wanting to die. I mean, GG Allin did that better than I ever could, so we'll let him and Kurt Cobain have that angle. No offense to GG by lumping him in with Kurt Cobain."

"Robbie writes all the lyrics, and the songs are just about everyday life in Sevier County and trying to bring the man down...just country hick bullshit," adds bassist Brad.

Earlier this year, the band made a trip to New York to play at the very birthplace of punk, CBGB's on the Bowery. The trip was a kind of summer vacation for the guys, and they learned a few things along the way.

"We played on a Monday night with a bunch of really bad Sebadoh kinds of bands," says Robbie. "We had to play last, and right before us was this death metal band that totally cleared out the place, so we played in front of five or six people. The only thing that got me through the other bands was drinking, so when I got up there I was slobbering drunk, and I forgot about half of the songs." So much for hitting the big time in the big city.

Though the Slugboys claim that they don't adhere to a strict punk rock party line, they are openly critical of bands that have carried the punk sound to the MTV marketplace.

"There is so much neo-punk going on, and it's all bullshit," says Brad. "I'm talking about bands like NOFX, No Doubt, and The Presidents of The United States. To me the whole punk thing is not just a trend, it's a way of life."

"Brad is the big punk of the band, but I don't try to be totally punk rock," says Robbie. I think we're just rock 'n' roll."

Drummer Bobby agrees, saying, "Punk is what we're doing, so I guess I'm a punk, but my main influences are bands like Slayer and Metallica."

The Slugboys plan to continue to play out around the area and maybe make another trip to CBGB's in the future. They also hope to release a 7-inch record if they can find a backer.

As to categorizing the band, Robbie is a little reluctant to claim too much allegiance with any particular musical clique. "We play fast songs, and we try to have an attitude of not caring what anybody else thinks," he says. "I mean we don't do a half-ass job, we try to do our songs really well. We just want to kick some ass and play some hard music."

© Metro Pulse