Bad kids make punk good again

Putos help redefine Calgary hardcore

I find it absolutely impossible to speak or write about punk and hardcore from Calgary without first launching into a long-winded digression about the past or at least my particular experience of the past.

The strongest image in my mind of hardcore in Calgary during the 2000s is one of nothingness. It did not exist. Instead of being handed a steaming hot plate of meat-and-potatoes HC as a seething hormone-filled teenager I was served something more closely resembling cold dog shit and cold dog shit anointed in the name of Jesus Christ at that. Cold dog shit that despite being shit was devoid of any scent. It made me feel nothing except a basic and primitive revulsion.

Basically “hardcore” in Calgary was monopolized by Christ-cult worshippers using it to their own ends. This noise did not resemble those bands I had come to hold so dear. Nowhere were the Bad Brains or SSDs or Die Kreuzens and nowhere was anything that could be misconstrued as one of their contemporaries.

On the other hand the aging bar scene did nothing to make me feel anything resembling raw power thought it claimed to hold much stake in that realm where the kids would have their say. (Dry Fisted and The Motherfuckers are the exceptions here.) I couldn’t handle it. Where was I supposed to go to have a real cool time? Nowhere. As far as I could tell hardcore in Calgary meant being a hateful Christian jock-hybrid mongrel who regularly threatened the lives of kids at least a few years younger than you and playing a style of music that I would under no circumstances mistake as being affiliated with punk or hardcore. Either that or you were just too old and I couldn’t relate to you or the music you were playing. Sorry.

I graduated high school and left town in July of 2008. “Fuck Calgary” I thought. A lot of people I know had similar thoughts and similar experiences. Some of them also moved west unafraid of the massive earthquakes and wretched nouveau hippies. Others stayed put here in Alberta unable to suppress their hate for the mellow vibes of the West Coast.

In the almost six years that I took leave of Wild Rose Country a renaissance has taken place where punk and hardcore are concerned. The likes of Flaccid and Skin Colour took up the cause of truly frustrated bad vibrations and under perhaps less “intentional” circumstances so have Putos.

Beginning as a sort of joke and after several augmentations of the lineup the bad children of Putos seem to have solidified themselves — through the abuse of alcohol the pursuit of petty crime and simple LSD mind-expansion techniques — as purveyors of pure anti-social hardcore punk. This is simple straight-ahead hardcore which lends itself to dancing that is nowhere near reminiscent of the spastic combative abominations one may be expecting when attending a “hardcore” show in Calgary. A sort of dance where you recklessly drag your knuckles across the floor like an animal. A dance you see in films like Suburbia .

Their formidable 10-minute cassette debut was recorded mixed and mastered by guitarist Luis Ergon who has become somewhat of a “house” engineer for this new wave of Calgary hardcore handling the recording mixing and mastering duties for many others including PMMA Skin Colour and his other band Sperm. The 10-minute tape has been released through Stu Ghanam’s burgeoning Mind Control Records.

“It’s almost a year old and we’re finally releasing it and we’re sick of it” says Putos frontman Ryan Loyer with a hint of caustic dejection. “We used to jam a lot at the start like twice a week but then we just fizzled out and became shitty people.”

Guitarist Dustin Fleming who rounds out the lineup with bassist Zach Sigouin and drummer Mark Licuanan reassures me of their rigorous commitment to their craft. “We jam like once a month now. We’ll jam like two days before a show” he admits.

Shaky sentiments perhaps but Ergon quickly puts my mind at ease saying that they plan to have an entirely new tape released sometime in the spring of 2014. Let’s hope these half-wits continue to abuse their bodies and plumb the depths of their psyches with mind-altering drugs lest they leave our midst all too soon.

In the meantime however you can catch Putos on Saturday November 30 at Tubby Dog supporting gloomy Edmonton punks Strangled along with Intercoarse and Hag Face. I can guess that it’s probably better than whatever crummy time you had planned already. Long live the new wave of Calgary punk. Forget and erase the past as soon as possible.