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The Explosion kicking back before a gig.

The Explosion: Defining Punk in the '00s

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: November 27, 2002

The Explosion
w/ One Man Army, Madcap, Lick Golden Sky
Sunday, Dec. 1
7:30 p.m., $8, all ages
Sokol Underground

13th and Martha

How do you define punk rock at a time when punk is more about fashion than music?

The Explosion has the definition written down in every bitter, three-chord-fueled anthem on their latest CD Flash Flash Flash. Influenced by The Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers, the Boston five-piece's music isn't so much about angst as anger and frustration, singing in the voice of every loser trapped in a plastic, corporate world that they never made. The Explosion may be too weak to escape, but they're strong enough to gather forces.

"The word 'punk' is being thrown around and co-opted by so many people these days," said The Explosion's bassist Damian Genuardi from his apartment in Boston, where he's preparing for a tour that brings the band to Sokol Underground Dec. 1. "You can't say it's spiked hair or a leather jacket -- those are sold at Macy's. You can't define it as a materialistic item."

Instead, Genuardi says punk is a spirit and attitude. "It's looking at the world with a sort of skeptical eye, knowing things aren't right and trying to always be aware of that fact," he said. "It's having a certain dissatisfaction and being proud of having that dissatisfaction."



Their dissatisfaction can be heard in the gnashing, double-guitar attack that epitomizes their name. On Flash Flash Flash the punk part is obvious, but the high-end production (this is no DIY job) and rock-and-roll arrangements push it over the edge from stereotype to head rush. Vocalist Matt Hock knows how to sing punk with melody -- he's not just another atonal howler. And everything else just plain rocks with a blistering intensity that Green Day or Blink 182 could never touch on their best day.

Hock, Genuardi and company have managed to put a new shine on a very old apple, thanks to unbridled chutzpah and ability to write a damn fine hook. Each of the CD's compact, 3-chord ditties sports a sonic nugget nestled among the power chords and a message about a society that has lost its voice or been beaten into submission, from "No Revolution" (On the edge of tomorrow / What are we fighting for?/ We fight each other / Whenever we get bored) to "Reactor" (Dear young reactor / We're gonna pull you under/ You know it's for the best) to the corporate face-spit anthem "The Ideal" (There are no good Samaritans / There are no proud Americans / This isn't my idea of success).

"We do a song called 'Points West' that talks about how we conquered the West with American lust, and that really sums up a lot of what's going on right now," Genuardi said. "It's getting to a point where this society can do whatever it wants, and is getting really blatant about it."

CD Flash Flash Flash

"It's having a certain dissatisfaction and being proud of having that dissatisfaction."



Bass player Damian Genuardi

"If the government took away our Internet privileges or our cars, we'd be marching in the streets."


Add to that alarming picture a star-struck culture that's generally disinterested in world events. "Everyone is more interested that J-Lo and Ben Affleck are engaged then speaking out against war," he said. "We're a sedated people. We have so much in our hands to keep us happy and occupied. If the government took away our Internet privileges or our cars, we'd be marching in the streets. Sept. 11 was supposed to wake us up to the fact that we're not so isolated anymore."

Genuardi said people today are living more private, less-dangerous lives and are happy just keeping to themselves. "There is no sense of community," he said. "Why else would reality television be so popular? We can sit safe in our homes and look at other people living their lives. You'll look through your window, but you won't go over and shake your neighbor's hand. That's our biggest message -- don't just sit there, do something."

Genuardi said those same themes carry over into The Explosion's new music. Flash Flash Flash is ancient in industry terms, having been released by indie label Jade Tree Records way back in June 2000. The band is releasing a 5-song EP called Sick of Modern Art in January on their own label, Tarantulas.

"We're definitely moving forward with our new music," he said. "We always want to retain an urgency in our songs. We're not going away."

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Published in The Omaha Weekly Nov. 27, 2002. Copyright 2002 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.