Devoted readers (and c’mon, there are scads of you, I just know it) will no doubt be aware that I’m super into emo and pop punk and all of those genres’ many offshoots and subgenres. This is tough for a Santa Fean, however, since the chances to see such things live have been minimal (with a hat-tip to the folks at Meow Wolf for that great Waxahatchee show a couple weeks ago that also introduced me to the Maryland band Snail Mail, whom I now love all hard), but the upcoming appearance from Scotland’s The Murderburgers at The Underground might just fix all that … for a minute, anyway.
Here's five great reasons you should be excited, too:
I sent the video for the song "The Waves" to a friend of mine who said, "Love it. Reminded me of my youth." Indeed, it's the fast-paced and upbeat sound of pop-punk you knew and loved 15-plus years ago, but Murderburgers front man and main songwriter Fraser (just Fraser, like Cher) sidesteps blink-182 schmaltz for more of a smart and raw Fat Wreck sound. Google that if you don't know it, and be amazed. "I think it's been getting better," Fraser tells me of the reception to the band. "When we first started out, it was difficult to get 10 people out to a show, but we just played Glasgow and there were a couple hundred people there."
The 12 Habits of Highly Defective People, the band's 2016 album, features members of another fantastic contemporary pop-punk act: Wisconsin's Masked Intruder. And though the mysterious masked members of that particular band lean pretty hard into adorable songs of love and loneliness, it's mostly the musical aesthetic that wound up in the Murderburgers stuff. "We had Red on drums and Yellow on bass … it was half of Masked Intruder on the album," Fraser says. "It all just fell into place accidentally; the drumming on the demo was pretty different from the way Red plays the drums, and it changed things a bit, but I preferred the way he did it."
The San Jose-area label is run out of founder Mike Park's mom's garage, as it has been since its inception in the '90s. If having your mom pick up your mail and employing exactly one person while forever changing the course of punk rock, pop punk, ska and beyond isn't the most punk thing you hear today, you're leading cooler lives than we are, that's for damn sure. "I've always been a fan of the label—since I started getting into punk music," Fraser explains. "We played with Joyce Manor, who used to be on Asian Man, and Barry [Johnson] said he was gonna pitch us to Asian Man. … I thought there was no way [Mike Park] was going to go for it, I felt like he took this restless Scottish band that people hadn't heard of, and it's been going pretty well because of it."
Fraser has stated in interviews that albums prior to 2016's 12 Habits were just kind of thrown together, whereas their most recent offering was produced by Chicago-based Matt Allison, a guy who's worked with the likes of Alkaline Trio, The Broadways, Smoking Popes and many, many more. "We never really had that experience of recording in a professional studio with someone who'd worked with similar bands and on records that I'm a big fan of," Fraser recalls. "It's definitely worth it, it's one of the best recording experiences I've ever had and I'm really happy with how it turned out."
Fraser tells me that after this tour, he'll head back to Scotland and spend some time working on non-band things, demoing new stuff and working with non-Murderburgers musicians. And even though 12 Habits only came out last October, he's raring to go on the next album and currently working on demos and is in the planning stages of a split with Israeli punk act Not on Tour plus some other splits which haven't been nailed down just yet. "Once we're not touring, I feel like I'll have more time to focus on recording stuff," he says. "I'd like to get a new record out next year."
The Murderburgers with City Mouse and Alien Space Kitchen
9 pm Friday, Sept. 1. $5.
200 W San Francisco St.