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Fixed Bayonets put punk into pub rock

Posted by Scott McLennan  July 24, 2013 11:48 AM

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Fixed Bayonets combines punk honesty with a rock and soul sound. The band plays Friday at Church in Boston.

A haircut and a presidential debate had a lot to do with Fixed Bayonets' arrival on the Boston music scene last year.

It all began when Mike O'Brien went for a trim and Matt Charette was the barber. At the time, O'Brien was winding down his tenure as the guitarist in Murder Mile, and Charette was wrapping up his work with the Scrapes.

"We talked about music and getting together to write some music," O'Brien recalls, mentioning that he and Charette hadn't played together in the past, but just knew each other in passing.

The two veterans of the local punk and hard-core circuit reached out to other musicians and the band formed with Glen Cancelleire on bass, Max Toste on drums, Isaac Sussman on keys, and Zach Uncles on pedal steel guitar joining O'Brien and Charette.

As the instrumentation itself suggests, the band was looking beyond the compact dynamics of punk rock. But the songs this group is making still use the raw and blunt language of punk rock, and the band sounds more passionate than pretty on the first batch of tunes it recorded.

"We want to connect honestly with people," O'Brien says. "I feel bad for kids today who listen to all that auto-tuned music."

Naming the new band was at first proving a problem.

"All of the names we thought of were taken when we checked them out," O'Brien says.

Then during one of the debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama during last year's presidential campaign, inspiration struck O'Brien when the two candidates began sparring over defense spending.

"Obama had that line about there being a lot less bayonets today, and I immediately texted the guys. Bayonets was taken as a band name, but we searched around and found 'Fixed Bayonets,' a 1950s movie with James Dean," O'Brien explains (it was actually Dean's first film appearance) .

The songs that Fixed Bayonets recorded thus far show the band tapping soul and country influences for a concoction it is calling pub rock 'n' roll. Sussman's keyboard and organ work is prominent in the mix, giving Fixed Bayonets a distinct, rich sound,

"For Mom" is a blanket apology to all mothers, while "21 Guns" is a rebellious, rollicking anthem, and "Beginning of the End" is full of misfit ache. The songs are fleshed out and demand some listening attention, not just some mosh action.

"I think this is just a natural progression for me and Matt having come up through punk rock and wanting to keep some of that in the music," O'Brien says. "By accident, we can play our instruments a little better now,"

Fixed Bayonets is playing best it can on Friday, July 26, at Church, 69 Kilmarnock St., Boston. The show begins at 8 p.m. and features Goddamn Draculas, Never Got Caught, Cradle to the Grave, and Dumptruck.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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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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