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The Interrobang drops into Radio

Posted by Scott McLennan  May 21, 2013 12:54 PM

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The Interrobang, from left, Rjan Savary, Mick Greenwood, Johnny Malone, Stephen DeBenedictis, and James Hogg (Photo by EAS Photography)

The Interrobang isn't so much a new band as it is a band reboot, which explains the polish and craft present on the group's debut CD set for release Saturday when the Interrobang plays at Radio in Somerville.

"It was a weight off our backs," singer Johnny Malone says of shelving the old monicker Self-Proclaimed Rockstars and adopting the Interrobang (you know, that weird piece of punctuation that looks like an exclamation point and question mark smashed together) in April. "We're an alternative rock band, and the name we had just wasn't describing us correctly."

Malone and guitarist Mick Greenwood went through various incarnations of Self-Proclaimed Rockstars before arriving at the lineup with guitarist Rjan Savary, bassist James Hogg, and drummer Stephen DeBenedictis.

While the band was prepping its latest batch of songs, it changed its name to reflect a fresh start, one firmly grounded in guitar crunch and a careful balancing of moods and textures; the CD's most outwardly angry song, "American Debt Slave," also has the record's bounciest melody.

The six tracks_ five originals and a cover of Talking Heads "Life During War Time"_ are all restless in some way. "Zirconia" blasts a woman who proves to be no diamond in the rough; "Bombs Away" bemoans the lullaby of consumer culture. False smiles, doubt, and chaos are also among the lyrical touchstones worked into a musical tapestry that warps a surf-rock riff here, a reggae rhythm there into a harder rock package.

The band also avoids quick hits, layering each song with noise, solos, and other sonic detours. All five members chip in to and sign off on lyrics that take shape on a white board in the band's practice space, which leads to some pretty winding narratives.

So if you're looking for a band with some sardonic edge, you'll do well by the Interrobang. And catching these guys is pretty easy starting Saturday with the show at Radio, 381 Somerville Ave., in Somerville's Davis Square. When Particles Collide, the Susan Constant, and Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library are also playing. The Interrobang will be at Radio on the last Saturday of each month this summer (the June date of the residency is dedicated to Brit rock, with the Interrobang tackling Radiohead, the Deep North covering the Smiths, and Southern Lust Club working up some David Bowie).

The band will also be part of the Steve Katsos Show's fourth anniversary celebration happening at the Regent Theater in Arlington on June 23 (Greenwood is the TV show's music producer) and will be touring along the East Coast in August. To keep atop the band's schedule, following along at

"We don't buy into the old idea about playing out too much and worrying about check marks at the door. We want to play," Greenwood says. "There are no bad gigs, only public rehearsals if no one shows up."

For a sample of what to expect Saturday, here's "Zirconia" off the new CD (beware of a little rough language in the song if tender ears are around):

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About the author

Scott McLennan is a Boston Globe music correspondent and previously wrote a music and entertainment column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for 15 years. After seeing the band Boston in the Boston Garden as a teenager he never looked back and eventually figured out how to be a professional fan. Scott is very good at writing in the dark. This blog is an ongoing discussion about music happening in and around Boston. Scott will be leading the trek across genres looking for new releases and hot shows as well as just checking in with the people who make Boston such a great place to listen. More »
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