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,
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