New Bomb Turks Push Punk's Boundaries

Turks' At Rope's End indicates a range of influences and interests.

For New Bomb Turks singer and lyricist Eric Davidson, the key to cranking

out an exciting punk album at this stage of the genre's game is no longer

over-the-top fury, but balance -- finding that pocket that challenges the

listener without becoming too heady.

"Right when I start thinking that maybe I'm getting too pretentious, or

writing too many words, or fitting too many thoughts in one two-minute punk

song, then I pull back," Davidson said recently from his Columbus,

Ohio, home.

Although you might never know it from his in-your-face live performances,

lyrical restraint is often key to the extra-ambitious Davidson. While

run-of-the-mill punk musicians struggle to rephrase "fuck you," Davidson

turns for inspiration to such figures as industrial designer Raymond

Loewy on songs such as "Streamline Yr Skull" (RealAudio excerpt) from the Turks' album At

Rope's End, which was released Tuesday.

"A lot of punk fans just want to keep hearing bands that sound like the

Ramones, and I don't think that's good," the 30-year-old Davidson said. "The

thing that I like about punk is people like [electronic punks] Brainiac, who take

the energy and attitude a little further and keep trying to challenge

themselves with each record."

Brainiac singer and guitarist Tim Taylor -- who died last year in a car accident --

was one of the inspirations behind New Bomb Turks' new whiskey-soaked

lament, "Bolan's Crash."

While At Rope's End is rife with barn-burners such as "Scapegoat

Soup" and "Ally Smile," the pedal-steel guitar and piano on "Bolan's Crash"

are indicative not only of the band's fondness for vintage Rolling Stones,

but of its quest to avoid falling into punk-rock stagnancy.

"I like all kinds of music -- study it and love it," said Turks guitarist Jim

Weber, 28, whose stints behind the counter at various record stores have

packed his personal collection with punk, blues, country and hip-hop

releases. "We all like a lot of Stones. Having the black backup singer

[Darchelle Williams] on 'Raw Law' is a Stones-y kind of thing to do, but

it's not really intentional. It's a little different than the usual fare."

While spending time in the Columbus and Cleveland areas has beefed the New

Bomb Turks' record collections ("There's not much to do, so you drink and

buy records," Davidson explained), the band seems to be ready for new digs,

as evidenced by the title of its new album.

"I guess I'm at my rope's end with Columbus," Davidson said.

He added that a break from touring last year led to some tension among the

band's ranks -- in addition to Davidson and Weber, band membership includes

bassist Matt Reber and drummer Bill Randt -- but with a European outing now

under way and a U.S. tour around the corner, the Turks seem good to go.

"Oh, we all get along really well," Davidson said. "We've been lucky that

we've never gotten into that -- throwing punches at each other, walking off

the stage