Just a week or so ago, while scrolling through Bandcamp, I stumbled upon a demo by Jack and the Slammers. I was instantly hooked by their primitive stomp, a hardcore style that always hits the spot, especially when it sounds like it was recorded in an alleyway behind a liquor store.
I had to find out who Jack and his demented cohorts were. As it turned out, I was already acquainted with their fearless leader. "We have all been good friends for a minute now, I mean, after all, Tim and I are half-brothers, and Darby and lan met years ago during a stint in a juvenile detention center, so that familiarity goes way back for all of us," Jackson Bunz told me via email. You see, I had already chatted with Jackson earlier this year while profiling Dose, an Iowa-based hardcore band he plays guitar in.
"I think we also realized that out of all the people in the area, we had the most crossover in personal tastes and ambitions, so it worked out perfectly. Darby (guitar) and I have written music together for years, and Tim (drums) and I play in Dose together, so there was already a level of experience on the music side of things that helped us hit a stride quickly."
Jackson provided some more of the Jack and the Slammers origin story: "We first started jamming together in April of this year and went through the initial pains of figuring out what we wanted to settle on sound-wise, from noise rock like No Trend to New Wave, and finally going back to our roots in '80s hardcore punk. This went on until June, when we agreed to play a show in Omaha three days in advance with zero songs actually written.
"That was the kick in the ass we gave ourselves to actually sit down and write. We knocked out a set over those few days, played that show, and then refined everything from there."
I asked Jackson to be a bit more specific about the sonic inspirations behind Jack and the Slammers.
"We're coming from a lot of different places but that is embodied in small flashes and subtleties, more than anything we do being direct worship or influence. I'd say '80s USHC, think United Mutation and Crucifix with a bit of 86 Mentality, and Violent Minds. Those are the closest comparisons I can give. The Boston and DC influences are heavy-handed. We love noise rock, we love power violence, we love hardcore, so it all gels together."
With so many people in the hardcore scene playing in multiple bands these days, I asked Jackson if he's had any issues juggling duties in Dose, Jack and the Slammers, and his other projects. "Honestly, I think I function best when I have a lot on my plate. Finding the time is never the issue when I know the time will be spent with people I love and doing something I love. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the balance of work and life and fun, but I'm able to take a step back from it all and go through it unaffected and unstressed, personally.
"I'm sure my boss doesn't appreciate all the time I give to this part of my life, whether it's tour or one-off shows with Dose or Slammers. I've never been one to sacrifice my hobbies and obligations for a paycheck, for better or worse. If it means I’ll die broke with a closet full of shirts and records, so be it. That's the price you pay for subculture, yknow?"
Jackson lives in Des Moines, so I wanted to find out more about the punk community there and how felt about the city. "While the lack of appropriate venues gives Des Moines less opportunity than other places, I find the open attitude and diversity of acts and people you find around to be unexpected to an outsider. Des Moines will never be short of weirdo art types, musicians, and people with similar upbringings you can relate to. Whether the city and scene will push that into something bigger, I’ve yet to see, but I hope to be a part of it.
"Although Des Moines is a relatively liberal city, there is a sense of being surrounded at times. Knowing that your beliefs, your social groups, and your own niches are outnumbered by the opposition. It does provide a comforting feeling within your own peer group, knowing that you aren't insane for feeling how you feel or believing what you do. It’s a prime example of the importance of focusing on community.
"As for the state as a whole, I was raised in rural Midwest hell, so I have a soft spot for it. The bizarre feeling of these areas is comforting to me in situations when most people would be looking for the door. Around here, the small towns, the white trash, and sketchy situations are never too far away, and I'd like to keep it that way."
I wanted to share these following thoughts from Jackson to finish the piece: "Everyone should pick up an instrument and start a band. Every young person should find 3-4 friends, buy shitty gear from a pawn shop, and rip off some band from 40 years ago. Play basement shows, have as much fun as you can, and understand there's no use in being so self-serious over everything. Drive hours with your friends to see punk bands in a different city/state.
"Break shit, skate fast, mosh hard, and care more about having fun than how you look, how others perceive you, or where your band will get you in life or the scene. Making things not your concern makes life a whole lot easier. At the end of the day, if you're having fun and making something special for yourself, who the fuck cares about anything else?"
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