Curse of Being Young

Hunx and His Punx rid themselves of the woes of youthful romance on new album

Hunx and His Punx is setting fire to the rock 'n’ roll boys club. The California band, led by Seth Bogart (who performs as Hunx), is the openly-gay spark. He sings directly about gay love, lost and found, with plenty of nods toward seducing the straight and the not-so-sure. Meanwhile, His Punx are Shannon Shaw, Michelle Santamaria, Erin Emslie and Amy Blaustein, and they add slop-pop bubblegum backing that nods to Ramones, as much as it does ’60s girl groups. Bogart says he never really enjoyed being in a band with a bunch of dudes. His first line-up featured a backing band of California garage rock guys. Touring was especially horrid, he says. Finally, he just got over trying to be in a band with guys. “I was sick of dealing with men,” he says. The girls, on the other hand, are the exact opposite. They get along and just have fun. “We can just laugh about everything and go shopping,” Bogart says. Bogart's life in this band comes after his previous group, electro sleaze-poppers Gravy Train!!!!, disappeared into the ether. He says he just naturally started working on songs for Hunx and His Punx, without knowing what was happening with Gravy Train!!!!. He never thought about it taking off to the point where he would be on Hardly Art, which is basically Sub Pop's sister label. “I was obsessed with the songs, but I never think about stuff like that,” Bogart says. “I just do what I want to do.” At first, that meant writing songs with members of Harlem, Bare Wires and Nobunny's Justin Champlin. Those initial songs were compiled onto Hunx's first release, Gay Singles, last year. Bogart says he welcomed the change of working with his current band on their 2011 release, Too Young To Be In Love. Basically, he went from working with people whose music he was obsessed with to working with a bunch of people he had built friendships with first. “It was more of a group effort between me and the girls,” he says of the new album. “I just felt more normal working with girls that were my friends.” The album's songs also came from a time where Bogart was mulling over past relationships. That’s where many of the songs on Too Young To Be In Love stem from, he says. “I was really down on love and sad about it,” Bogart says. Now Bogart says he's over it and he's really into someone new. Doing the record helped spur him onto the next page. “I think it just made me get over it,” he says. “It was like releasing a demon or something.” The songwriting sessions with Shaw, who also fronts Shannon and the Clams, and Santamaria, also paid dividends in the record's sound, bringing a greater emphasis on the girl group swing that highlights the entire record. Working with an all-girl band helped lead the songs in that direction, Bogart says. “I think that's what brought out some of it, for sure,” he says. The band worked in N.Y. Hed studio in New York with Ivan Julian, who co-founded Richard Hell and Voivoids. Bogart says he didn't even find out that Julian was in the Voivoids until Hunx and His Punx had wrapped up their sessions, despite the fact that Bogart says he's a Richard Hell fan. The band's partnership with Hardly Art also is helping the band break free from playing in front of garage rock crowds, which mainly placed Bogart in front of crowds made up of “creepy, older white guys,” he says. Now it's a mix more to his liking — gay guys, girls and possibly awkward teenagers. It's also caused Bogart to hang up his past life as a hairstylist and sell his share in an Oakland-area salon. He says he liked doing hair, but the choice to give it up was easy. “I'd rather do art and music,” he says. Hunx & His Punx w/ Shannon & the Clams and Talking Mountain play the Slowdown, 729 North 14th St., Wednesday, May 4 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8. For more information, visit onepercentproductions.com.

posted at 10:25 pm
on Tuesday, May 03rd, 2011

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