Live fast die old: Grown-Ups stop caring

Grown-Ups’ debut LP an exercise in witty furious punk rock

Call Grown-Ups the musical equivalent of the honey badger: They just don’t care. This is a band which despite carrying the buzz-band tag sold one 7-inch on a recent U.S. tour with Deranged Records act B-Lines. Its married songwriting duo Sara and Josiah Hughes moved to Calgary in 2008 — instead of say a star-making town like Montreal — and initially worked soul-crushing oil industry jobs. And with all members in their mid-20s Grown-Ups play an unapologetically bombastic brand of punk rock a genre alternately obsessed with youth and straight-faced seriousness.

But the ever-unflappable couple — on this day meeting for drinks at the Milk Tiger — are unconcerned about scene credibility or music-industry trendspotting. They care so little for it in fact that they titled Grown-Ups’ forthcoming LP Stopped Caring.

“We’re supposed to be grown-ups but we’re not” says drummer Sara pausing to take a sip of Negroni. “Our lyrics are about TV shows and how broke we are all the time like ‘Actually Bankrupt.’ We did an ET -based EP with Scotch Tapes which is so bad for a film student [as she was]. But I love Spielberg!”

“This band is a vacation from my day job. I butter up bands I think are stupid all the time” adds guitarist Josiah whose music writing appears in Exclaim! XLR8R and uh Fast Forward Weekly . “We stopped caring about whether we get bad reviews or whether people are into us. If you stop worrying about if you’re getting Best New Music on Pitchfork it’ll be more fun.”

“That’s how everyone should look at their band — not as a business venture but as an escape from paying bills and working.”

Still don’t confuse Grown-Ups with the stuff of post-adolescent hobbyists. Esthetically Stopped Caring set for release via Modern Documents is a modern-punk rarity: While Josiah’s sing-speak might pique the ears of Revolution Summer fetishists and its mid-fi call-and-response tendencies might recall Angry Samoans musical comparisons don’t come easily. Nor is Grown-Ups content to recycle tired punk-rock tropes. (“There’s nothing worse than a 20-minute punk album that sounds 90 minutes long” quips Josiah.)

“I never think ‘Let’s try to write a song that sounds like No Age’” says Sara. “If it sounds sweet I try to find a drumbeat we can do — we don’t write songs with a style in mind.”

To further complicate matters Grown-Ups released a tape preview of Stopped Caring mixing originals with Blink-182 covers. Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll is pissed. Josiah for his part is non-plussed. “Gateway bands are so fascinating” says Josiah. “ Dude Ranch is an amazing gateway record and it’s tons of fun — it’s partly a reaction to [posturing] where everyone all of a sudden only listens to like Bauhaus. It’s like no you don’t. Come on.”

Those are the types of lifestyle observations that populate the Hughes’ music: Like Pissed Jeans Hard Skin or End of a Year Grown-Ups’ standout quality is its self-awareness. At that Stopped Caring is a fearless — and hilarious — survey of genre conventions music scene posturing and the existential minefield that comes with new-minted adulthood.

“I don’t want to be so ironically detached that there’s no seriousness to it” says Josiah. “But I’ve never been the kind of guy who takes punk that seriously…. If I was a dumbass with a Food Not Bombs patch I don’t think I’d be able to age gracefully at all. You’d have to be playing devil sticks at the folk fest or something.”

So cross that off Grown-Ups’ summer calendar. But the band’s schedule is busy enough: Following its Sled Island LP release Grown-Ups will perform at Total Fest in Missoula Mont. followed by an August tour that will take it as far south as Long Beach Cal. To add Sara — also an emerging filmmaker — is preparing a documentary about Calgary restaurant Tubby Dog also set for an August release.

As an escape from “paying bills and working” that sure beats devil sticks in the park.