There's no shortage of scholarly indie/post-punk bands whose songs about the pain and struggle of our cruel, desolate world impede their ability to lighten the fuck up. But despite the tortured-artist genius of bands such as Protomartyr and the Walkmen that informs the sound of Long Beach quartet Bundy, they've never been ones to wallow for too long without attempting to crack a smile over some ridiculous joke—such as the origins of their name. Though most are quick to associate it with the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, it was actually spawned from a heinous douche of a different sort.
You may remember Bud Bundy from Married . . . With Children. But do you recall when David Faustino, the actor who played Al Bundy's son, took a cringe-worthy detour into the music world, picking up the rap name D' Lil? Even if you don't (consider yourself lucky), lead vocalist/guitarist Nani Serna says he was inspired when their former guitarist introduced him to D' Lil's infamously bad video for the track "I Told Ya."
"It was super-terrible, and we were all kinda laughing at it," Serna says. "And one of us said we should call ourselves Bundy. We thought about it and were trying to come up with serious names, but everything serious just sounded like we were too much up our own asses."
The band turn heads not only with the many different pop-culture connotations stemming from their name, but also with their explosive sound and string-snapping tirades about lost love and the disillusionment of young adulthood.
Taking cues from bands such as Built to Spill and Pinback, the band temper their dark lyrical content with melodic breaks and pop-forward arrangements, letting audiences come up for air once in a while as they bob their heads to a dancey four-on-the-floor beat. On songs such as this year's single "Holy Vultures," Serna's floating guitar and David Byrne-reminiscent vocals nestle well with the rhythms of bassist Kelsey Hoover, drummer Derek Cookmeyer's sturdy pulse and guitarist Johnny Lim's vibrant energy.
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Though they've only been around for a couple of years, Bundy has put out a few EPs and singles and are currently working on the full-length album Bastard Performer, to be released early next year. "It's definitely been a lot of work on this one," Serna says, who wrangled a horn section and various side players to the band's recording roster. "When we first started, we weren't really sure where we were going, and now we have a pretty solid idea of what we want the sound to be. So when we ask someone to come in and do horns or add a guitar part, I already have in my mind what I want."
They've also snagged high-profile gigs such as Buskerfest and a residency at Long Beach bar 4th St. Vine. Although the occasional compliments and jokes about their name tend to make him smile, he's still inspired to write tortured songs such as "Bastard Performer."
"It's about feeling how we're doing all this work to be artists and so many people don't care. So I'm questioning why people do art and why do I care so much and why don't I stop?" he says. "There're days when I can't get out of bed because I'm like, 'Why am I spending all this time and money and effort?' And then there's days when I get to practice and it's beautiful. That's why I like to say I'm mad because I'm constantly on one or the other."
Bundy perform with RMB, Synth Punk and One High Five at the Prospector, 2400 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 438-3839; www.prospectorlongbeach.com. Thurs., Aug. 31, 9 p.m. $5. 21+.