Totally Gnarly Photo by Sarah Winners)
By RALPH RENNA
What is punk and hardcore music? The answer is really one person’s opinion and it depends on who you ask. Some describe punk and hardcore as styles of music filled with chain sawed guitar riffs, a bass like a locomotive chug, drum beats that make the body move aggressively and just some guy yelling into a microphone.
Hardcore is a lifestyle and in 1989 the local hardcore shows in Troy and Albany were a variety pack of people, in one room. There were no dress codes or specific kind of people attending. You didn’t have to meet a tattoo quota. In that room were all races, religions, politically affiliations. There were punk rockers with mohawks, headbangers with mullets, girls and guys both with shaved heads, the nerds, the jocks, the outcasts — they somehow all fit in.
If you’re going to start a punk or hardcore band today, you better include all the above elements, and it better be totally gnarly.
This is the band that lives up to that name. The DIY work ethic and all that is hardcore! In 2015 straight out of Gloversville. Totally Gnarly’s “Bogus Journey” was released to the world and took over the local scene via hurricane style.
“The genesis of a fledgling drunk rock outfit,” said Jim Nellis, the band’s bassist. “Those were our very first songs and I still like most of them. Our new songs just pretty much outshine the majority of those tracks. We’ve become tighter as a band and we’re writing better songs because of it.”
Playing shows was the plan for the group after the record’s release. Shows on land, on boats, parties, bars, backyards and festivals. But, there is a good cause behind all this mayhem, guitarist Adam Hannis explained.
“2016 has been good,” said Hannis. “We kicked it off strong with the “Jamzilla” benefit for Alzheimer’s research last February. It is our annual music festival in Gloversville. Oh, and [Jason]Bowie (drummer) got married and he is still playing drums with us, so that is a pretty big deal.”
The band’s humor and its desire to have a good time make it a better band on the road.
Totally Gnarly guitarist Tony Zalone shared some of the off-stage drama his band experienced during a recent trip up to North County.
“We played two gigs back to back in Plattsburgh and stayed at a friend’s apartment for the night,” he said. “His brother’s date turned out to be nuttier than a squirrel turd and kept the whole house up with her shenanigans. After we tried to pawn her off to some rambling crack-heads, she threatened to run home naked. She failed to deliver, and we had to jump their car in the morning just to get her to leave.
It would have been much worse if I wasn’t under such heavy sedation.”
Vocalist Rufus Red added, “That was the same night that Andrew W.K. stormed into the club while the closing band was playing GG Allin. He then commandeered the mic, put on a magnificent PG-13 GG impersonation, and then proceeded to smash every individual Christmas bulb on the strand of lights hanging up in the bar.. all while singing ‘Bite It You Scum.’
One-Dollar Gennys on tap can really bring out the dark side of a man.”
This insanity, in a way, has shaped the band.
“I think the simple fact we have been playing music together in some incarnation or another for twenty years is a major accomplishment in itself,” said Red.
Bowie remembers this fine memory, “Not sure how funny this is but we played with a black metal band that actually brought a dead rotting raccoon in a cooler and opened the top while they played for ambiance? So gross!”
While writing new music Totally Gnarly keeps playing gigs including the recent Ghost of Hardcore Past covering a set of Rancid tunes.
“It would be nice to be able to make just enough money to pay the bills by playing music. Maybe have some left over to buy beer. Making it ‘BIG’ doesn’t really interest me, personally. I just want to play music.” Say Hannis.
Not to mention Totally Gnarly also released two new tracks that had previously been recorded but not finished. Doing their best to keep busy. Hardcore and punk exploded into the ‘90s mainstream and hasn’t left. So it’s safe to say this is not an overnight sensation or the trend of the day, Totally Gnarly is here to stay.
See Totally Gnarly play live on Saturday, Jan. 14 at The Low Beat in Albany, and Saturday, Feb. 25 for Jamzilla 2017 Aaron’s Irish Pub in Gloversville.
For more information go to www.facebook.com/totallygnarlyband.