Thursday, May 1, 2014

Square Zeros #17: MAYOR CREEP (The Misled, Dethryderz, The Norris Address, Spratt)

How to describe Brooklyn's Mayor Creep to the uninitiated...

Mayor Creep is composed of four guys who came to it from far-flung, pop-oriented projects. Jeremy was (and is) in the beachier Air Waves; Alex Heigl made polished garage pop with Brother Reverend; Nick played with the hooky, lo-fi indie pop act Dinosaur Feathers; and Alex Gruenburg fronted the moodier power trio We Run.

Anyone who's seen them live, or picked up their dynamite split cassette Krangnitas (with heavy shred headbangers Hounds Basket), is sure to have questions. To understand how they came by their current brand of lightning-fast, super-tight, and often hilarious hardcore rants, you've got to dig deeper, which is precisely what we do here at Square Zeros. Welcome.

Mayor Creep's frontman Jeremy fearlessly volunteered to go first, so he could finish his beer afterward without anybody bothering him. His band The Misled — requisite Angelfire page here — drips with high school hardcore attitude. Though he's the singer for Mayor Creep, Jeremy's traditionally a drummer, and "Falling Down" has him thundering through a surprisingly twisty rager. Lo-fi? Totally, but the groove on the half-time refrain will get you bobbing your head, and the pickup on the snare feels right.

Dethryderz axe duel, 2006.
Heigl's Dethryderz (a name purposefully misspelled at every possible juncture) pushed that punk edge into shreddier territory. The high-riding guitars are all thrash on "xSceneBusterSx" — wow — while Heigl's treble-heavy bass charges through high-neck runs. Aside from the growling vocals, this might be as sonically close to Mayor Creep as we get in any of these early cuts. Heigl's bass style — at least when it comes to playing hardcore — remains in that supercharged territory of fast riffing with a pick. Aside from the rock stance, however, this might be as visually distant from modern Heigl as we get: those dreads, that Municipal Waste shirt, that Suicidal Tendencies cap with the brim pushed up, those dreads, that jean jacket with the sleeves ripped off, those dreads.

Nick was the real wild card in this interview — especially because he was the one member of Mayor Creep who expressed legitimate dread at the prospect of showing his early work to the world. 

"I rarely get embarrassed," he said. "I'm pretty up front with all the shameful things that I do. And I'm afraid to play this because it's so bad."

Of course, that's our raison d'ĂȘtre here, and Nick delivered. "Firewalker" may be the empirically strangest song we've featured to date. It was one of a handful of tracks from a recording project called The Norris Address from Nick's early 20s. Yes, "Norris" is indeed a reference to the inimitable Chuck Norris, and all the band's lyrics are culled from the synopses of Chuck Norris movies on IMDb. "Firewalker" (Norris and Louis Gossett Jr., 1986) explodes with a deafening scream of "TREASURE HUUUUNT!", then slips into a midtempo keyboard-driven groove, with Nick on vocals — a nice surprise given that he's the only member of Mayor Creep you won't find deep-throating a microphone at their shows. The song ends with a chant of "Lou Gossett JUNIOR! Chuck Chuck Chuck NORRIS!" that'll leave you wanting to track down the full movie, if only to get an idea of what inspired this unique piece of art. 

Spratt (awesome name) was Gruenburg's first project. He started it with two friends in suburban Virginia at about 15 years old, and they played hard-charging power punk anthems that took their cues from the likes of Epitaph, Nitro and Fat Wreck Chords. Gruenburg is the only Mayor Creep whose band was lucky enough to record at a studio, so on "Punk Janx" we get something a little more refined, relatively speaking. It's far from clean, but the band plays fast and precise, especially on that drum coda at the end. Snotty vocals — "Don't waste my time" — big, crashy drums, gross guitars. Spratt was a regular name at a spot called Hong Kong Cafe that actually served Chinese buffet during punk shows. We'd jump in the pit after a plate of sesame chicken. (Also, can we get one of those in Brooklyn?)

All four of the Mayor Creeps' bands could have shared a bill together at the local VFW hall 10 years ago and it would have made a damn good show. Jeremy's Misled is the razor-sharp opener that plays a 12-minute set and leaves everyone soaked in sweat and hungry for more. The Norris Address is someone's weird friend's side project that walks a fine line between ridiculous and artsy, driving half the crowd outside for a smoke break but retaining a gaggle of kids cool enough to have discovered Zappa already. Dethryderz are the chaotic shredders that open up the pit and have that bassist dude with dreadlocks. And Spratt is the more put-together headliner that set up the show, rips live, and plays a totally unnecessary and uncalled-for encore.

Y'all can catch Mayor Creep TOMORROW, May 2, at the first-ever Square Zeros Showcase. They're sharing the stage at The Grand Victory with Clean Girls, Crazy Pills, and Derek and Jon's own Sunset Guns. They recently released a cassette split with grunge punks Hounds Basket, and they've got another split coming out this weekend with Sunset Guns.

— DJH + JM

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