Bay Area punk trio Grumpster might roll their eyes if you use the phrase “next big thing” to describe their concise ’90s guitar-rock vibes. Bassist/vocalist Falyn Walsh, guitarist Lalo Gonzalez Deetz and drummer Noel Agtane conjure the halcyon days of alt-rock eras gone by. Alternative Press is premiering the video for “Growing Pains,” which can be found on the flipside of their recent “Teeth” single. Walsh’s vocal delivery is spot-on, while all the attitude is powered through amps and drum mics.
While “Growing Pains” is about the demise of a failed relationship, Grumpster chose a completely different angle for the video. The band traveled to an Old West tourist attraction on the California/Nevada border and created their own toy-gun micro-Western movie. Walsh plays the new sheriff in town who’s going to get rid of all the villains. It’s kitschy and fun. And did we mention how killer the song is?
The members of Grumpster answered our questions about the song, the video and how they perceive themselves as “punk,” period. If you like what you hear, check out Underwhelmed, their 2019 debut album for the respected Asian Man Records label. 2020 may have decimated live shows, but tracks such as “Growing Pains” are making our playlists positively shine.
“Growing Pains” has the vibe of a ’96 mixtape that has the Breeders, Huggy Bear and Imperial Teen on it. The playing is stellar, the groove is taut and the two-and-a-half minute length is perfect. I loathe to call it “pop punk” because there’s a personality to it that a lot of that genre simply doesn’t have. Am I completely off point? Where is Grumpster’s place in the underground?
LALO GONZALEZ DEETZ: No, you’re not completely off point. We actually tend to disagree when people try to label us as pop punk.
NOEL AGTANE: When we think of pop punk, we think of bands like New Found Glory, blink-182, etc. While these are all bands we enjoy and listen to, we don’t think we really fall into the same category as them.
FALYN WALSH: When asked about our own genre, we usually will just say “punk.” Honestly, we don’t always know how to label ourselves, but punk serves as more of a blanket term for a bunch of different sounds that we draw from.
Asian Man founder Mike Park has a track record for being a solid dude. What did he tell you about your band that you had never really considered before?
WALSH: Mike hasn’t said anything directly about the band to us, but he’s always offered us a bunch of advice. Such as not letting tensions build, communicating and talking things out, etc. He’s told us that we need to make more funny DIY music videos, and that’s exactly what we did. We don’t talk too much business with Mike, and our conversations are usually full of jokes and silly banter. He’s the best.
Where was the “Growing Pains” video filmed? What’s the funniest thing that went down on the set that we didn’t get to see?
DEETZ: We drove 12 hours round trip to Bodie, California. It’s an old, abandoned gold-mining town on the California/Nevada border. It’s a bit of a tourist attraction, despite the fact that it’s in the middle of nowhere and 10,000 feet above sea level. There were quite a few people there when we first started filming. We would pop out from behind buildings with our fake guns and accidentally scared quite a few people and families. People were also coming up to us and asking if we were hired actors for the town. The whole experience was quite comical.
What made the band use a new-sheriff-in-town Western theme to convey the end of a terrible relationship? The idea of taking control of something and getting the no-good varmints out of the way? Were you making any other commentaries (subtle, obvious) with the video?
AGTANE: Lalo actually came up with the concept completely separate from the song. We didn’t know what kind of video would match the vibe of the song until he came to us with an entire storyline written out. We like your interpretation, though, so we’ll go with that from now on. [Laughs.]
The pandemic ruined your plans to tour with Anti-Flag. What are Grumpster’s contingency plans for the rest of the year? What are the next musical documents?
WALSH: It’s been a bummer! Everything that we had lined up for this year has been postponed pretty much indefinitely, but we’ve been keeping very busy in our downtime. We’re currently working out new songs for our second LP and making steady progress on that. We’re actually working with Chris #2 of Anti-Flag on the record, so we’re super-stoked to get into the studio once the songs are done and to make some new tunes for everyone.
Get your copy of the Mindless 7-inch here. Check out “Growing Pains” below.