Tub Thumping

Hey! A whole new genre! Dirt-pop tractor rock!

Brandon Trca and Micah Peterson, the big guns behind Tub, are indiscriminately blasting away, leaving nothing but bloody, throbbing carnage in their wake.

POP, POP, POP! About a flaky old drummer of theirs who spent valuable rehearsal time banging his girlfriend instead of his kit: "He'd call up and cancel practice, so he's not in the band anymore."

Buh-ROOM! About a CD manufacturer who screwed up the order of their EP, White Over Purple: "We printed 1,200 discs. I get them back, grab one, put it on the stereo, and it's got classical music on it."

RAT-TAT-TAT! About indifferent OC crowds: "A lot of people seem to have that 'You better impress me, or I'm just gonna sit here' attitude."

The thing that really chaps their cheeks, though, is certain unnamed local bands (well, they'll name them to me) who think they're rock stars. "There are bands and musicians around here who won't play if they can't go on second, like [Insert name of band here]," laments Peterson. "Gimme a break."

BANG!

Trca's even more pissed about the lack of love and the rude attitude some bands give off. "I hate it when I talk to bands who say: 'Oh, sure, we'll play with you. Just give this guy a call, and then he'll get back to us.' I go: 'Hey, you're the band. Do you want to play the show or not?'"

They didn't do things like that back in Trca's hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa, where there was a small but supportive local scene. "I miss that unity. In the Midwest, friends would drive 200 miles to see you play in the middle of a cornfield."

"Then, criminy, why doesn't this bellyaching hick just go back to where he came from?" you ask.

Actually, Trca would probably like to. But a return to his roots would mean going back to a place that holds some terror for him: while on a 1994 tour with his old band, Fist Puppet, his bass player was murdered.

"He went into a head shop to buy a pipe," Trca remembers. "There were these guys robbing the place, and he got shot in the back of the head. It could have been any of us."

Fist Puppet slowly disintegrated. They were set to do some recording for renowned Minneapolis indie label Twin/Tone, but the drummer suffered a nervous breakdown directly tied to the shooting. Trca visited him just a few months ago; he's still in treatment.

"That's why all this band stuff really isn't that important in the whole realm of things," he says.

But music still mattered enough to Trca that the shooting trauma didn't make him want to just quit altogether. He escaped to Huntington Beach in 1995, collected his senses, got a job working the retail grind at South Coast Plaza, and hooked up with Peterson, who plays bass. They hammered out a bunch of songs right off the bat, recorded a demo in a Long Beach garage, and eventually settled on the name Tub from looking around Peterson's house for a handle that wouldn't distract from the music too much (as opposed to something really stupid, like, oh . . . the Big Bad Zit-Poppin' Poo-Poo Daddies. Or Third Eye Blind).

The name thing doesn't matter, since it's impossible to ignore what Trca and Peterson call their "dirt-pop tractor rock" sound (and they aren't ashamed to call themselves a rock band, either, instead of some lame trendoid tag like "emocore"). Tub craft superb, raspy tunes that remind you of the Replacements' more reckless moments, or even Soul Asylum, back when they weren't the sick, sad, pathetic joke they are now (no wonder Twin/Tone got a stiffy over Trca's ideas, since both of those bands started out on the label).

Spin a copy of White Over Purple, and you'll hear astoundingly catchy songs like "When I'm Down"; so-sugary-it'll-rot-your-eardrums power pop like "Don't Touch There"; a groovy guitar-riff orgy called "Red Room-Red Room"; and the glorious "Coffee & Pills" closer, which you can call their arty piece, with its spoken bits lifted from the old '40s flick Rebecca and its oh-so-rock-&-roll tag line "Up and down/Throwin' shit around."

Purple was released on their Red Heffer label, which they hope gets big enough to sign and record other bands. For now, though, they're gearing up for the October release of Our Blue-Collar Commitment, their first full-length CD. They plan another self-booked national tour to support it (with new drummer Greg Crane, who'll start playing shows with them next month), similar to a 20-show trek they did earlier this year, which took them all the way to Florida.

Obviously, Tub and their D.I.Y. approach aren't about to sit around waiting for David Geffen to come banging on their door. Still, they've had some intriguing talks with industry vermin. Some months back, a management firm took them out to dinner and told Trca and Peterson that they were the next Hootie and the Blowfish (strike one), that they should start singing national anthems at baseball games (strike two), and that they should play a free party for KIIS-FM (strike three-yer outta here!).

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