PMMA add synths pop and Palm Bay to their punk music

It’s a Monday afternoon and the members of the Calgary punk quartet PMMA (whose name has nothing to do with “positive mental attitude” and everything to do with para-Methoxy-N-Methylamphetamine a drug that’s occasionally taken in place of ecstasy) are taking a break from band practice to sip on some Palm Bay coolers and talk shit in synth player Dutch ’s southwest Calgary living room.

“I offered him $100 cash but we told him there needed to be photographic proof and that’s when he backed out” says guitarist Garth. He’s describing the time they nearly convinced drummer Dilly to fellate Dutch ’s dog Clyde an English bulldog who has since been neutered. Dilly he was only joking but the consensus is that he just needs more money. “Let’s do a benefit show for it and try to raise some money” adds Garth.

Rounded out by bassist Milk Boy who shares vocal duties with Dutch the members of PMMA have an old familiarity that lends itself to lengthy meandering conversations of a phallic nature. It helps that they’ve played in bands together for years. Dutch and Garth were members of the beloved Calgary hardcore punk act Point Break. Later they collaborated with Milk Boy in his Descendents cover band the better of the city’s two known as Mikeage.

While Point Break was one of the city’s most explosive hardcore acts the members’ time playing more melodic fare as a Descendents act made them want to keep collaborating. It helped that the members were also obsessing over the fist-pumping punk anthems of The Spits.

After some early drum machine experiments the band started practising with Dilly previously of Topanga and the Flatspots Painted Bird and Bitter Pricks among others. It helped that thanks to the explosion of activity in the now-legendary block of houses on Sixth Street southwest they were hanging out at shows living nearby and practising together nearly every day. “I’d say Sixth Street is a major part of why we’re all doing bands” says Milk Boy.

Maybe it was the regular practices or the members’ pedigree in other bands but PMMA arrived as a fully formed sonically unique group with a sound that’s hard to pinpoint. Yes The Spits are a sonic touchstone as are The Damned and The Misfits (“ Milk Boy ’s voice is fucking beautiful” says Dutch calling him “young Danzig”) but the melodies are met with a dark brooding aggression and Dutch still utilizes the gruff snarling vocal delivery he used in Point Break (and subsequently Skaabis and Intercoarse).

Much of the band’s identity comes from the addition of synthesizers though Dutch quickly admits that he’s not a gear head. “I didn’t know shit about synths I just bought one that was cheap. In the future I kind of want to get into it and learn about it. I don’t have time to sit there and read about it…. I took piano when I was young so I know piano pretty good.”

“’Hot Cross Buns’ was our first song” adds Garth laughing. He agrees that this band is the easiest to write songs for. Where previous aggressive hardcore projects had him getting “stuck in a fucking rut” this one’s panning out nicely. Between the four of them they write a new song each week at practice. “I think it works out well because we’re used to writing songs on a guitar but then when I play the keyboard it’s random notes that no one usually plays” says Dutch .

After releasing their demo cassette last year PMMA’s songs made their way through a circle of punk-minded friends before winding up in the hands of Imminent Destruction Records a widely distributed record label that specializes in crust d-beat and other strains of hardcore. The label released the band’s fantastic debut 7-inch All She Wanted earlier this month.

While the sounds of PMMA are already being celebrated by punks the world over (a recent Japanese record review correctly described them as “brain-melting space punk”) the band is also finding fans outside of their niche. “I’ve definitely talked to people I’ve never talked to about my bands before” says Garth. “My mom and aunt are coming to our release show.”

“My mom is too” adds Milk Boy excitedly.

“It’s a lot easier to get into than our other bands’” says Dutch . “My girlfriend’s a teacher and one of her colleagues heard our band and is really into it. And he’s a fucking teacher.”